Dec 4th, 2019, 04:57 PM

The Impact of a Father's Relationship

By Nicole Pyo
“Baby feet with father and mother”. Credit: Pexel image
Dear fathers, I just wanted to let you know, you are important.

 

Who here hasn’t heard a dad joke in their life? Is there anything more humorous and touching than a dad joke that’s shared between fathers and their children?

Come on… they’re punny.

I wonder if I appreciate dad jokes more in life now that I’m older, especially since this particular brand of jokes were lacking in my life growing up. My father was never really the type to stick around and invest in relationships with his children, and by default, my mother mostly raised my sister and I. Looking back, I often reflect on how my parents’ divorce and his example, or lack of one, impacted me into adulthood. Though I no longer have any relationship with my father, it’s been my belief that the role, in general, is important to the impact he has on daughters in particular, based on my own experience.

Father figures all around the world, from families with a mother and father, single fathers, or two father families, matter. I truly believe that the positive male role model in a girl’s life is one that can hugely impact her in a good way. I also believe that this is a message that has not been communicated enough to men all over the world. The stereotype of an inactive father who goes to work in the morning and comes home at night and leaves the child-rearing to the mother is outdated. It’s also harmful in that it leaves fathers with less time to spend with their children, and fosters gender inequality in the workplace and society.

There still exists the misconception that fathers mean less than mothers. Father’s Day is marked in more than 70 countries worldwide on the third Sunday in June. An American invented celebration, Father’s Day was first officially recognized by the US government in 1972. Mother’s Day, on the other hand, was officially recognized nearly 60 years earlier in 1913. More emphasis and gift spending tends to be placed on the day that celebrates all mothers in contrast to the day in June that celebrates all fathers.

Father’s Day seems to generate less attention and if this is the case, I wonder if fathers realize the impact they have on their children, especially on their daughters. Speaking from the perspective of a woman who was raised by a strong, caring, and independent mother, the subject of father-daughter relationships remains near to my heart. I strongly believe that fathers and positive male role models have the ability to influence girls in ways that affect their self-esteem, self-image, confidence, and opinions of men. It can mean the world when her father encourages her to be all that she can be, and she knows he believes in her.

When he actively participates in her life and shows interest in her hobbies, she can feel like she can take on the world knowing he has her back. If her father figure treated her, as well as his significant other and the other women in his life with love and respect, she will likely expect the same from the men in her life.

Growing up with an absentee father in a divorced home has taught me a lot about the world and how I view myself in it. Years later as an adult who has graduated college, travelled the world, and counts herself lucky to be surrounded by great people, I wouldn’t have changed any of it. My mother did a fantastic job of raising my sister and me by herself and she has been inspiring as a single, intelligent, and independent woman. Her example has helped make me into the person I am today. I still believe that the fact remains, however, that fathers matter and that they do make a difference.

The stereotype of the inactive father needs to change.

The role of fathers in the family and the important role they play to their children appears to be one that is overlooked. In the US for example, there are very few father-friendly parent programs available to men. In addition, the few programs that are available do not have evidence of improving fathering outcomes. The second-hand role fathers are seemingly relegated to when it comes to children is unfair to his partner the message it sends to the culture we live in. Without the means to transition into the role of a new father, the man is left without resources and he receives the message that he is not as important. How then do men realize the significance that they have on the kids in their lives?

It's not uncommon to hear of children growing up in fatherless homes. I stand with the kids who come from the seemingly new norm of divorced homes, and absentee fathers. I firmly believe that while fathers are not necessary to raise fully healthy, strong, intelligent, and independent adults, a positive role model does make a difference. I strongly believe that the culture surrounding a father’s role needs to change. His role is for life, and not just relegated to one day of the year in June. I’ve been lucky to have great male role models in my life that have kids of their own, and I am thankful for each of them.

Speaking from the perspective of a daughter, I would like to say thank you to those fathers that are single parents, trying their best, or coming from two father homes. Sometimes kids just want to spend time with their daddy and hear those jokes whether we realize it or not. After all, I’ve been told that “it’s inappropriate to make a ‘dad joke’ if you’re not a dad. It’s a faux pa.”