I wrote a post about the role of a mother a year or so ago.
I really wanted to write one about fathers but perhaps because my father passed away some years ago or maybe for other reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I’ve asked some friends and family members to help me out.
Here’s what they’ve shared with me.
From a Caucasian, 60 year old, female in Watford.
I believe fathers have a huge influence, and how we relate is long-lasting. I was lucky with my father. He pushed for success but also was someone who I could negotiate with and disagree with as well.
My kids had a dad who, although not a good husband, was a good father who eventually had other children. He was needy himself, without a good role model, and my son growing up without the day-to-day relationship with a father, was essentially damaging (given my son’s lack of resilience and his personality).
It is interesting to now see my son-in-law’s approach to child rearing. He is very involved. He takes him to the nursery, gives him tea before his mum gets home (as most mums work whereas mine didn’t) and he is the more adventurous one. My daughter and I just hold our breath and trust him, but he definitely encourages more fun and danger in my grandson’s life than my children had!
From a Korean, 31 year old mother in the Midlands
I guess this encompasses many things and is multi faceted.
When I think back to the time before I settled down and what I was looking for in a husband I used to think about the qualities I saw in my own father. I think people generally see their father figure as someone who is fun but it’s not just about what they teach you. It’s so much more.
I didn’t realise it, but having watched my dad work so hard I guess I learnt to do the same. If I needed a telling off my dad was there to put me right. He disciplined me.
He taught me about morals and about responsibility.
He has always pushed me to be better and has been so encouraging.
If I have any problems or if I was upset he’s there to comfort me.
I saw all of these things I saw in the man who I married.
From an Indian, 39 year old father in Hillingdon
This question means so much to so many fathers.
To some fathers it means being there and seeing every special moment in their children’s lives, to some it means to protecting the family by bringing security to the children and providing for them, to other fathers it means being a part- time dad and mostly seeing their children when they’re asleep (i.e. in the morning when leave for work and in the evening when they return); with weekends being the main and sometimes only time to really spend with them.
To me… my girls mean everything to me. I have found a balance and ensure that I can be there for them a lot. I want to do the drops-offs and collect them from school, I want to be there at feeding times and be the distraction “clown” act whilst mummy feeds our 6 month old and then run around the home pretending to be an angered gorilla chasing my 5 year old.
I used to think that fatherhood was about providing material things, but in fact, whilst the kids are young, all they really want is time and attention. They want us to put our phones down, close our laptops and give them the full and unconditional love and attention that they give us.
I grew up with a father who worked all the time, and never really spent any time with us. It wasn’t because he was a career oriented work “junkie” but rather he had to do this to survive and provide for me, my brother and my sister. He made our future possible. Even as I write this, my eyes have started to well up, because it is because of him that we live where we live, have what we have and most of all, we are lucky and blessed to have the time with our children.
I often look at him when he spends time with my children and I feel so happy. The love that he has in his eyes for our children is pure and something that I never really saw when I was young.
In my opinion, it is so important that we spend the time with our children, explain things to them, sing with them, play with them, fight with them, debate point of view with them and walk in the park with them.
Someone said to me once… “children are on loan to us until they grow up and leave”. I never really understood this until I had my children and even now my heart aches knowing that one day my girls will one leave me to be with the one they love and want to be with for the rest of their lives.
Until then, I will be the best father I can be.
From a Indian, 32 year old, new mum in Harrow.
I feel that a fathers role is ever changing as it has to adapt to the age of the child.
As a father of a newborn I feel a father’s role is more to do with supporting the mother and protecting them both, right from the labour.
- the safe arrival of this precious creation
- providing a safe environment to develop, grow and learn
- to be the best person you can be
- to provide safety in terms of a place to speak freely about experiences, concerns and worries and also provide physical safety
His role should be to pass on words of wisdom!
To share thoughts that stick in your head which can become something to live by.
He should also be able to do the following:-
- express discipline
- play rough and tumble
- teach limits and boundaries
- show sons how to respect women and show daughters how they should be respected
- teach them by setting a good example
- to be consistent
- pass on knowledge, skills and experiences from his life
- create a caring and loving environment within the home and beyond it
- encourage hopes and dreams
Many aspects of being a father overlap with role of a mother.
From an East African, 42 year old, male in the Midlands
“Anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy.”
A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life.
He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline.
His work is endless and, often thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises.
These are few things I do with my son, which my Dad did with me:-
- Maintain good discipline
- Allowing my son to make mistakes and learn from them
- Being open minded
- Teaching him to appreciate things in life
- Spending quality time together
- NOT comparing my child with others
- My dad had shown me unconditional love and I hope I am doing same with mine
A Father will always protect his family at all costs
A 42 year old, Japanese father in America
Fathers often have an idea that they can mould their children like clay, into whatever shape they want. What I’ve learned is that’s not true at all.
The child will become whatever they want to become, and they already have a personality of their own regardless of what you do. So the best thing is to get out of their way and let them grow and be who they want to be.
But a father still has a role:
- It’s to inspire
- To be there
- To love, unconditionally
- To set an example
- To be accepting and see the child for who he is
I try to show my kids what life is like when you do what you love, when you endeavour to help people, live simply and put people and experiences over money and possessions and status.
I try to show them what it’s like to have a good heart, to make mistakes and learn to deal with them, to take risks, to do hard things, to deal with discomfort and uncertainty.
I fail at these things, but I think it’s not whether you succeed or fail, but whether you try.
Whether you show you care.
Whether you’re there.
A 25 year old, British, single man in Harrow
Role of a Father – in all phases of life
1) To be a great communicator
2) To have patience
3) To be able to explain in various formats to help children with different requirements
4) To emotionally understand and support the different phases of a child’s life
5) Specifically if coming from another country where your traditions have come from to understand the new environment you are in and how you can provide support suited to the new place of residence
6) Know where the balance is between traditions and modernisation
7) Follow advice himself that would be given out to children
8) Show actions to follow up on words used
9) Have good habits and behaviours which the children get to see, like, and even learn from. (e.g. Self control over anger)
10) Make time to have discussions
11) Make time for social activity that everyone can enjoy
12) Be a good teacher, where the importance of detachment, self-less, benevolent, compassion and peacefulness are taught
13) Show flexibility, not only earn money, but attempt or be able to cook, clean, help in chores
14) Show friendliness towards all, including your children’s friends
15) If you are physically and mentally able to, then do some work/ get a job/ help someone
By doing some of the above, can a father be some form of a role model
I appreciate my father goes to work and wants to earn some money.
We would have appreciated it even more, if he had patience and was a better communicator with family members.
It’s great to see my father likes things spotless and clean.
It would have been great if he helped out with some of the cleaning so we all see a better example.
It’s great to see that my father makes time for house shopping but likewise it would be good if he made time for social outdoor activities to help broaden the knowledge and experience of other family members.
From a British mother of two in London:-
A father teaches you basic skills like how to catch a ball, swim and ride a bike. The practical things.
He gives you an objective opinion of how to deal with situations (as opposed to an emotional one) and encourages children to do what they think they can’t achieve.
From a British, 45 year old male in Buckinghamshire
- finding the time to do all the things we need to do
- keeping everyone happy and
- hopefully finding some time for yourself!
Do these experiences and thoughts align with yours or do you have a different idea of how a father should be?