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Although parents or caregivers, regardless of whether it is one's mother, father or otherwise, have been said to play important roles in a child's life, each type of parent or caregiver can provide distinctive, significant contributions to a child's development. Each parent or caregiver can provide a child with love and nurturance, but different types of parent or caregiver influence the child's development differently. It is often debated on, whether these differences in parenting roles are due to biological differences, cultural stereotypes or perhaps a combination of both (How Do Fathers, n.d.). However, studies have shown that these parenting role differences bring about different parenting styles and different benefits to a child's development (How Do Fathers). Therefore, the roles complement one another and are both equally important as well as necessary for optimal child development. In this essay, the author will discuss the role of fatherhood and its effects on a child's development.
In a family, a child can benefit more from having both parents involved in their lives rather than just one parent. This is because the child receives more love and care as well as is exposed to an assortment of loving and caring styles.
Parents provide children with access to a wide network of family members, friends, members of a community, school teachers and friends, religious communities, and work colleagues. Parents provide children with access to the outside world, thus helping them gain personal life experiences.
In the past, psychological research has focused almost exclusively on the relationship between mother and child. However, lately, research has acknowledged the importance and distinctiveness of fatherhood on a child's development. In fact, fathers seem to become additionally responsible for a child's academic and social development as the child enters early childhood.
Both parents encourage their babies to explore the world by manoeuvring objects and just generally having a physical interaction with things around them. However, both parents do so in different ways. Fathers usually provide the infant with oral and physical stimulation by communicating with sudden bursts of sounds as well as patting and carrying the infant (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Therefore, infants tend to favour interacting with their fathers as they grow a little older as fathers tend to provide more fun and exciting stimulation. Such stimulation is especially essential in enhancing mental, social, and emotional development of the infant by stimulating the brain (How Do Fathers).
As infants grow into young children, parents are presented with additional challenges. These challenges include encouraging the child's investigation of the world around them as well as setting suitable restrictions to their exploration so as to keep them safe from harm. In this aspect, fathers are significantly better at overcoming these challenges successfully (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Through a father's interaction with a young child, the child is more likely to develop problem solving and social interaction skills (Parke, & Buriel, 1998). Although in total, fathers spend less time with their children compared to mothers, fathers actually spend more time playing with their children compared to mothers (Collins, & Russell, 1991). Fathers' lively and exciting playtimes with their children provide unique, significant quality time. When fathers play with their children, they are providing a fun yet challenging environment for the child (How Do Fathers). This stimulates the child's mind and enables the child to learn the skills needed to interact with the world around them. Fathers urge the child to try novel experiences, learn how they affect the world around them and discover their own capabilities (How Do Fathers). The young child has to think and analyse situations in order to achieve certain goals during playtime, such as how to win a playful wrestling match with the father (How Do Fathers). This stimulates their problem solving abilities.
Research shows that children with involved fathers tend to have higher scores in both thinking ability and brain development (Nugent, 1991).
It is believed that fathers impact children's confidence levels more significantly than mothers (How Do Fathers, n.d.). As children's confidence levels are dependent on whether they feel that they are able to achieve objectives and successfully learn new skills, their confidence levels can be heightened through the accomplishment of tasks. In this aspect, fathers seem to have an significant role. Fathers shape their children's self esteem and competence levels as they are the ones who set up challenging environments for their children during playtime (How Do Fathers). This encourages the child to try novel experiences and enables the child to become more self sufficient, thus increasing the child's confidence level. Besides that, fathers are able to effectively instil a sense of responsibility in a child by being a role model for the child (How Do Fathers). As Bandura's observational learning theory states, learning can occur by a mere observation of the behaviour being carried out by someone else. This is especially applicable to children, who very susceptible to imitating adults. When fathers portray responsibility, their children would imitate them and learn to take responsibility for successes and failures (How Do Fathers). This would then lead to a sense of competence if any form of success is achieved.
Fathers are more influential in affecting a child's academic performance as compared to mothers (How Do Fathers, n.d.). There are two theories as to why this is so. First, as fathers are the main financial providers of a family, fathers can provide more financial assistance if they are concerned about their children's education (How Do Fathers). This would provide the child with better access to educational resources and facilities as well as better opportunities to gain knowledge. The other reason is that fathers tend to assist their children in their school work more than mothers (How Do Fathers). This assistance would then improve the child's performance in school when the assistance is provided on a regular basis.
Research showed that children who had fathers who were more involved in their children's studies, later on, grew up to be more successful individuals (Snarey, 1993). Another research also proved that there was a positive relationship between duration of time a father spends with his child and mathematical ability (Snarey).
Fathers have been found to impact young children's emotional development, which then leads to improved social interaction with others. On the other hand, mothers are less influential in this area (How Do Fathers, n.d.). As children go through a hard time when they first begin to attend school, fathers can heighten their children's adaptive abilities by showing warmth and support (Browne, & Rife, 1991). When a father plays, communicates or even directly educates a child about emotions, the learning on how to identify and express their emotions aptly, control the expression of their negative emotions, identify the causes of emotions, and recognise the different emotions felt by others, is facilitated (How Do Fathers). As higher emotional intelligence leads to more effective social interaction, emotionally intelligent children tend to interact better with their peers and have better relationships with others. Besides that, higher emotional intelligence would also enable a child to have better adaptive skills. The child would then be able to adapt the new experiences and environments, including starting to attend school (How Do Fathers).
Research shows that when fathers are warm and supportive, their children tend to get along better with their siblings (Volling, & Belsky, 1992). Research also showed that children with emotionally involved fathers score higher on emotional intelligence tests (Koestner, Franz, & Weinbeger, 1990). Besides that, they also tend to get along better with their peers and are less likely to engage in aggressive behaviours (Koestner et al.). These effects are long term, in that, they last throughout adulthood as well (Koestner et al.).
The relationship between parents inadvertently affects the mother-child and father-child relationship. If one's mother has support from one's father in terms of maintaining the cleanliness and tidiness of the house, caring for the children, providing financial support and making future plans, one's mother is likely to have better mental health, thus leading to more successful and proficient parenting. One's mother will also be more responsive towards one's needs (How Do Fathers, n.d.). This positive effect is especially prominent if one's mother is married to one's father as this type of commitment will provide her with a sense of security (Lamb, 1997). Besides that, the relationship between the parents affects a child's development through the child's observation of their relationship. This is because such observation will affect the child's ideas and beliefs about marriage as well as the child's ability to form healthy relationships in the future.
In today's contemporary world, many families have both the mother and father earning a living. However, the father usually earns a higher income and is expected to provide for a greater share of the financial responsibilities.
Studies have shown that in a majority of households, the father is either the solitary breadwinner or at least earns more than the mother (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Furthermore, even when both parents earn a living, a father's income is more significantly linked to a child's development compared to a mother's income (Burghes, Clarke, & Cronin, 1997).
Based on the attachment theory, babies are inclined to be more attached to their parents compared to any other adult in their lives (How Do Fathers, n.d.). They require regular, immediate attention from their parents when they cry, smile, or show other signals and cues. This encourages more secure attachments towards their parents, thus enabling them to grow up into successful, confident, well adapted adults in the future (De Wolff, & van Ijzendoorn, 1997).
Research found that primary school children had higher empathy scores if they had secure attachments towards their fathers (Biller, & Trotter, 1994). This means that the children were more able to understand how people around them felt and are able to take steps to comfort these people.
Fathers have a significant impact on a child's moral development (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Children, whose fathers were more concerned about their children's lives, tend to be more morally conscious and tend to adopt socially responsible behaviours. This may occur due to the provision of advice and guidance from the father. Besides that, fathers also act as a role model for their children to follow, thus providing a good example for their children to follow. These positive influences on a child's moral development are long lasting and continue to persist throughout adulthood (How Do Fathers).
Although adolescents usually spend less time with their parents, they still rely on their parents for guidance (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Fathers have been found to have an influential role in providing advice, and helping in making plans for the future, especially for adolescent females (How Do Fathers).
Research has found that adolescents who had strong relationships with their fathers tend to have fewer quarrels with their peers (Lieberman, Doyle, & Markiewica, 1999).
On the other hand, if a father is too restrictive or controlling, this would negatively affect the child (How Do Fathers, n.d.). Fathers might behave as for various reasons, such as to try to protect their children, out of lack of tolerance towards their children or out of lack of trust and belief in their children. However, it is important that fathers realise that such behaviours would impede the learning process and negatively affect the child's emotional, mental, and social development.
On almost all outcomes, including academic achievement, adaptive behaviours, moral development, and confidence level, children in intact families scored better than those in non intact families. This is partly due to the economic difficulties and family instability present in non intact families. However, the most significant negative affect of having one's father absent in one's life would be the lack of love and nurturance. This is because the father is not there to provide direction and assistance in the child's life due to factors such as physical distance between father and child and lack of commitment felt by the father.
In conclusion, fathers have very important roles in a child's thinking and problem solving ability,