Q: I’m a young father of two. How can I form my children to live in our world today?
I surprised a friend recently when I asked him what type of activities he was doing now with his eight-year-old son that would shape him into the man he would like him to be. He looked at me in shock. He had never thought about this.
What character traits and virtues would you like to insert into the blanks? “I look forward to my little boy being a ___, ___, ___, man, or my little girl being a ___, ___, ___, woman.”
I hope this article today serves to guide fathers to view their role as a father as a co-creator, shaping and forming the gifts that their children are, into adults, noble citizens, just employers, loyal employees, future parents, children and servants of God.
Fathers, you are role models, moral guides and teachers. Children not only observe and listen to our spoken and unspoken messages, and non-verbal body language, they also imitate it. Fathers influence their children directly through their behaviour and the attitudes and messages they convey.
According to Michael E Lamb, Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, UK: “The research on fathering is indisputable: Fathers have a crucial role to play in the cognitive, social, and emotional development of their children. An involved father is one who is engaged, available, and responsible. … Children are much more socially and emotionally developed when their fathers are involved.”
They even have increased empathy, less sex-stereotyped beliefs, and a more internal locus of control.
Meaning that fathers who provide for their families and who play, interact lovingly with their children, who read and do fun things with and for them generally have children who are happier, who do better in school, sports, extra-curricular and have healthier relationships with peers and adults.
With this perception and understanding, I pray fathers will grow in confidence and seek the support they need to enhance their parenting skills.
We were not handed a manual when we became parents and some of us had poor fathering or no father at all as role models. The resources available to us on how to better parent are at our fingertips.
We can start with learning our child’s Love Languages. Dr Gary Chapman supports us in improving all our relationships with his wonderful series of books about the five ‘Love Languages’.
How one child or person feels loved is NOT the same as how another child or person feels loved. When you understand that one of your children feels loved when you play outdoors with him and the other child feels loved when you read stories to them and another when you spend alone time with them, then you are speaking their specific love language and meeting their deepest psycho-emotional needs.
All children however need to feel important, respected, listened to and managed with loving, firm boundaries. Ignoring our children or anyone close to us for that matter is demotivating. The unspoken message is “you don’t matter”. This is destructive to any relationship. It’s never too late to say sorry and change our ways.
If this Father’s Day, fathers are not feeling honoured maybe some self-examination is in order to see where our shortfall lies and to make amends.
Our most loving Heavenly Father is there for us, offering us Himself in the Holy Spirit to inspire us and give us the fruits of the Spirit of courage and wisdom, patience and self-control to change.
Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED. Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant.
Send your parenting questions to email@example.com