Defending Dads!

 I love to laugh, especially at imaginative and funny TV commercials. However lately, I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the ones that poke fun at men and fathers as if they were congenital dunces!  In fact, this actually worries me! Okay… I get it! Women, as statistical facts indicate, are the major decision makers in most households so these TV ads are aimed at women not necessarily to denigrate men, but to play on women’s emotions in hopes that they’ll slice the family savings account for products and services.  One has to wonder though, when the subliminal types of messages with their disparaging facial expressions, belittling body language or overt condescending language toward men become part of our everyday thinking.  Are women and girls being beguiled to disvalue boys and men?  I certainly hope not; because eventually these girls and boys will marry, and they must know how to respect and honor each other for their nuptials to have a chance, and to set a high-quality example for their own kids.

Over the last few decades, women’s roles have grown exponentially outside of the home yet they have also maintained their domestic role and maternal inclinations of child rearing.  For this they deserve immense respect.  In fairness to men, their growth also deserves respect.  I am pleased to see many movements where men embrace their vital role as parent, express detachment from their traditional role of “breadwinner” and share domestic responsibilities.  So why, when so many men are trying so hard, is there a culture that mocks them?  Why do the TV media, extreme feminists, and Hollywood starlets purposely choosing single parenthood, perpetuating trends that advocate the “I don’t need a man mentality?  I’m all for the independence of any given individual but when it comes to rearing children, both a mother and a father are ideal.

Research supports my belief that men, generally speaking, deserve to be respected (even if a woman can do their job) and fathers deserve to be heartily defended for their roles, which frankly, women cannot replicate!

Psychologist John Gottman outlines research stating that even though mothers generally spent more time with kids than fathers, that the quality of interaction provided by fathers was a more powerful predictor of the child’s later success or failure with school and friends.   It was believed that fathers have this extreme influence on their children because their particular type of bonding evoked powerful emotions in kids.   It is important to note, however, that a physically present dad didn’t create this research finding, but that the emotionally present dad did!  So kudos to dads who choose to be present in this manner!

This is further supported by the following research based facts listed at the National Fatherhood Initiative.

  • The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that when fathers are involved in their children's education, the kids were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.
  • Kids with engaged fathers demonstrate "a greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control."
  • When these boys grew up, they were more likely to be good dads themselves.

But when fathers are devalued, here's the result:

  • Their children have a higher rate of asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.
  • Teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use, and suicide
  • Adolescent girls are 3 times more likely to engage in sexual relations by the time they turn 15 and 5 times more likely to become a teen mother.

Here’s more:  In 1996, Duncan, et. al. found that “For predicting a child’s self esteem, it is sustained contact with the father that matters for sons, but physical affection from fathers that matters for daughters.”

The list proving a father’s worth goes on and on so I felt it was important enough to write about.  And the timing seems right since Father’s Day is fast approaching.

In fairness to the moms (remember that I’m one too) you bet you matter by leaps and bounds!  But we have to realize it isn’t a race about who’s a better person or parent.  Each of us has a vital role to play in the lives of children and sometimes, circumstances create it so that a dad just can’t be present.  If your child’s dad is missing in action because of necessary travel, divorce, death, or simply detachment, then you are my hero for doing the job solo.  However, when Dad is around and doing his job, try not to let those derogatory TV commercials subtly get to you.   Value your children’s Dad and remember to thank him.  And know that your kids are watching your every move.  If you treat men respectfully, they will learn to do the same.

Please don’t treat Dad like the babysitter with a list of instructional do’s and don’ts.  Allow his personality to shine in his own unique way.  You might just find that the man will surprise you when he’s allowed to think and act for himself.  After all, what’s more important?  A father feeling good about spending time with kids, or worrying about “mom” reaming him out because little tikes ears weren’t cleaned well enough?  Mom needs to be Dad’s partner, not his gatekeeper.

So on this upcoming Father’s Day, I’d like to thank not only my husband who is a fantastic Dad, but all the men, who give of themselves not just physically, but emotionally, to nurture their kids into happy, successful citizens of our world.  Good job Dads!  Keep up the great work!  Our future generations depend on it!

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