Post written by guest author, Cassandra Spaeth, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Coordinator
This week we celebrate our fathers and recognize the influence they are in our lives. In an article titled “The Importance of Fathers: Is Father’s Day Real?” Dr. Ditta M. Oliker explains that until recently a father’s influence was “seen as minor, even negligible, and his importance was defined by how well he provided for the family.” Too often father’s still see themselves primarily as financial backers. While providing for a family can be an important responsibility, it does not define the entire relationship. Fathers are Leaders, Teachers, and Nurturers.
Fathers are leaders of their families as they care for and demonstrate commitment to family members. Fathers as leaders set expectations for their children, help children take on age appropriate responsibilities, and guide children as they make choices. Fathers are role models in their families and inspire their children to reach their own potential. They bring out the best in their children by setting boundaries and providing them with opportunities.
Fathers can teach their children a myriad of things from how to ride a bike to how to treat other people. Most importantly fathers teach their children values. Children are keen observers and notice what their fathers do as well as what they say. Fathers are teaching as they help with homework, help coach their children in sports and other hobbies, or give them advice about friends. Fathers are constantly teaching their children about values even while doing seemingly ordinary things.
I asked a group of fathers what they think of when they hear the word “nurture.” An immediate response came from a father I know well. “Mother.” The ironic thing is that I have personally seen this father interact with and nurture his children quite openly and with so much love and affection, yet in ways different from his wife. There are distinct differences in how mothers and fathers nurture. Both are important. So how do fathers nurture their children? To nurture a child is to care about them and then act upon those feelings. A nurturing father responds to their children’s needs for help with empathy and support. Nurturing often happens simultaneously with leading and teaching, but is also very prevalent while playing. Fathers nurture their children in various aspects of their lives.
As we celebrate our dads this Father’s Day, may we each think of specific ways they are leaders, teachers, and nurturers. If you are a father yourself, think about how you lead, teach, and nurture. The roles of fathers are significant and irreplaceable in the lives of children from the time they are infants and throughout their lives. Let’s celebrate these important men not only this week, but always. Happy Father’s Day!