Recently I had to do some research for a new keynote address called, “Bringing up Positive, Happy, Healthy, Well Adjusted Children in a Negative World.”
In the process, I realized how different parenting is in 2014 when I grew up in the ’50s and when I brought my kids up in the ’70s. I think the most interesting thing I learned was how very important the role of daddy is and how it has changed over the years.
What really made me take notice were stories I heard in a meeting this morning at my church. We were asked what positive trait did we take from our childhood and what happened in our childhood that was negative. In nearly every case, it was the father who negatively impacted these 50-something adults. One told of an abusive dad, another an alcoholic dad, an absent dad, a dad who never showed affection. It got me thinking how extremely powerful fathers are and what how vastly different the role of daddy is in 2014.
My father was a great man, one I respected, looked up to and loved. However he never tied my shoes; he never combed my hair and I doubt he ever knew my favorite color or favorite flavor of ice cream. Today, most fathers not only know these things, but they are involved. Fathers today know the names of their children’s friends; they carpool and they know which one of their kids like granola bars and which one will only eat green apples. In many cases, today’s dad will turn down a great job opportunity because it will take him away from home too much, something a man in 1955 would not have even considered.
So how has this shift in fatherhood affected our children? Well I don’t know. I think we have to wait a decade or two and see if our future adults are any better at solving problems, showing affection, overcoming adversity then we were. What I do know is that today’s father has a great deal of influence over the children in our lives. Whether it is good or bad influence depends on daddy.
I thought of my father as someone who could do no wrong, the perfect father. However, when I think of how little he actually interacted with my childhood, I see that it was my mother who truly brought me up. I’m not faulting him. I think that was just the way it was. Today, fathers are an intricate part of a child’s day. They are part of the homework, bath time, bedtime ritual. They go to parent teacher meetings and birthday parties, they talk to their kids about bullying, and shyness and honesty and trust.
Our kids look at the way fathers respond to difficulties. They watch how they interact with mommy. They listen to what daddy says about diversity and acceptance and even on their political views. All these observances build or bruise the character of our kids.
When your son or daughter inherits their dad’s positive qualities, i.e. sense of humor, integrity, ability to play sports or sing and dance, fathers are overjoyed. I’ve witnessed dad’s encouraging their child and helping them to feel successful in areas they feel were inherited from them. However, when your son or daughter shouts back at you or shows signs he has your hot temper or inability to control his temper, your own unhappy emotions affect your judgement. You may be frustrated and may feel guilty that your kids got the same problems you have and it can anger you. How a father reacts to this situation makes a world of difference in the child’s ability to communicate better in the future.
Here is an excerpt from an article on parenting from Redbook Magazine:
Mary Collins of Dallas has a 6-year-old who can’t communicate when he’s angry. “Jacob balls up his hands, squishes up his face, and turns beet red. He wont tell me what the problem is,” she says. Where does he get that from? His father Chad. So Collins had a heart-to-heart with her husband about how his behavior affects their son. He agreed that he needs to change and that he has to help Jacob change too. Now he is reading books about how to get a handle on anger and working with Jacob. If your husband won’t help, find another male role model who will.
Fathers have an awesome responsibility to be amazing role models for their children. Gone are the days when bringing home the bacon, mowing the lawn and fixing the car were the only jobs a man had. Today, every thing a father says, every attitude he carries, every decision he makes and every action he takes is being watched by his sons and daughters. How important is Daddy? He has the ability to change the future generation. That’s a pretty important job, I’d say.
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