We all fully recognize the importance of a mom in a child’s life. Indeed, no one can surpass the love, compassion, caring, empathy, and tenderness of a mother. Dads sometimes can demonstrate those traits, but usually not on par with their female counterparts and, one could argue; that’s not what dads are for anyway. It seems clear that when God devised the family, He delineated very special and specific roles for each member that divinely complement one other to provide a child all that’s necessary to grow in a healthy and well-rounded way.
The Purpose of This Post
This post is an open letter to all fathers out there. Please share it with your husband or any male for that matter; to the dads who read these posts: I hope you find it informative. In any case, there are a few things dads need to know, and I aim to tell them. So, here it goes:
I’m not sure you realize just how important you are in your child’s life. You may think your wife picks up the slack, among other things, and that moms are the true nurturing force, and you may be right about that. However, your role is invaluable and irreplaceable.
In fact, your presence in your child’s life makes all the difference in the world for your child. For example, did you know that your engagement in your kid’s life results in your child being more engaged in school (almost 50% more likely to earn better grades and the same percentage less likely to repeat a grade; 60% less likely to get in trouble at school or drop-out, and twice as likely to go to college), are more likely to stay out of trouble (80% less likely to spend time in jail!!!), avoid high-risk behaviors, and to hold off intimacy with the opposite sex (75% less likely to have a teen birth!!).
As if that’s not powerful enough, it goes even further: your presence and attention results in your child having a much greater chance of becoming a successful adult with a better-paying job and healthier relationships. Incredibly, with you being in your child’s life, your kiddo is more likely to have a higher IQ and be emotionally more stable than otherwise. You probably didn’t know that infants with involved fathers have been found to have higher cognitive scores by one year of age than those without their father’s involvement.
What if You Don’t Live in The Same Home as Your Child?
That’s not optimal, but clearly, it’s surmountable. Stay engaged with phone calls, letters (the old-fashion handwritten kind), emails, texts, attending games, regular visitation, and balanced custody arrangements. A child simply knowing their dad cares is huge and is super impactful. However, you gotta realize that there is no substitute for your presence; buying gifts simply won’t cut it, and likely will make the situation worse. It’s very simple; your child wants and needs YOU, not stuff.
Your child likely has a mom, and that’s immeasurably important, but you bring some special things to the table. Think about it: without you, how is your son going to know how a man is supposed to act? In the absence of watching how you treat her mother, how will your daughter know how she should be treated by her husband? Yeah, I know, this may sound stereotyped, but is it untrue? Without you, how will a boy learn to be tough and masculine and, at the same time, a gentleman? Of course, kids without fathers figure it out, but it’s not an easy path and doesn’t come as naturally.
What about my daughter, you ask? Well, you’re no less important to her. There is a general sense that a father’s presence is equally important for son and daughter till puberty; thereafter, your presence helps immeasurably to keep your daughter from being sexually active. Girls with dads in their lives have less of an internal drive to act out sexually, have more self-control, and are generally less inclined to become sexually active at an early age. Daughters with attentive dads learn lots of important things including that they don’t need to be sexual to deserve a male’s attention.
Moreover, your daughter sees you respecting her mother and learns how a woman is supposed to be treated in relationships. Your kids learn, directly from you, about dependability, work ethic, how a man is supposed to handle anger and emotions, and how to care for a family. You also have a profound impact on your child’s spiritual life. You are called to reflect God’s fatherhood for your child; and to be a model of strength, leadership, love, faithfulness, grace, and mercy. Moreover, your child will follow your spiritual lead in that respect, which further shows the importance of your influence.
Your role, or your mission if you will, is more important than a CEO, Manager, or President.
Your job as ‘father’ and ‘dad’ is the best and most challenging of positions. It can be daunting, may seem impossible, and you may feel like you’re failing at times, but staying in the game and ‘being there’ is how you win, and how your child wins.
Okay, so what if you’ve been out of your child’s life? That is a difficult situation. Re-engaging with your child is a worthy pursuit, but rebuilding trust is usually a process and there may be multiple barriers to overcome including some legalities. The process usually begins with writing letters, which can be effective. Remember: it’s very comforting for a child to know that their father cares, even if they don’t have contact. However, there are some situations where re-engagement can be counterproductive and even harmful; it’s important to be sensitive to the history between you and your child. If you’re not sure if or how to proceed, feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss the particulars at DrCarosso@aol.com.
I hope you find this letter to be heartening and inspiring. As a dad myself, I find it important to be reminded of our God-given role and place within the family, our paramount importance for our kids, and the need to strive to be our very best. I commend you for doing the same, and I wish you the best and Godspeed in your effort