The Role of a Father in nurturing a Child.

men's day, mental health concerns, parenting counsellor, psychiatrist counsellor, men's mental health, parent counselling

“My father thrashes me with a belt when I am mischievous”, said Ashish (name changed). His mother spoke of how Ashish would become quiet and sit in front of his books like a studious child as soon as his father returns from the office. But his behavior in the school was a different story altogether. Hardly a day went by without him getting reprimanded for disturbing others, bullying younger children and fighting with his classmates. His day-to-day needs were taken care of by his mother. His only interaction with his father was either when there were serious complaints about his behavior or when any special permission was sought. The rest of the times, he tried to be practically invisible when his father was at home. Ashish’s father was like many other fathers of his generation who believed that fatherhood means providing financial support and disciplining the children when needed. Anything more than that was the mother’s domain.

This International Men’s Day, let’s emphasize the importance of a father’s role in the upbringing of his children. A father’s role in a child’s life has become more diverse and pivotal. Recent research has shown that the involvement of both parents in raising the child leads to better outcomes. In fact, the father’s good or bad parenting style has been shown to be as favorable or adverse for the child’s mental health and development, as the mother’s parenting style. Children who are loved and cared for adequately by their fathers are less likely to display mental health concerns or develop behavioral or substance abuse problems. Babies with emotionally engaged fathers show better mental development, as toddlers.

Society is also evolving with the times. Paternity leaves are now as commonplace as maternity leaves. These days, a working woman expects her husband to share the household chores as well as be actively involved in parenting. The gender lines in parenting are increasingly being blurred. In healthy and well-adjusted families, both parents are flexible and are able to take up the same responsibilities, while supporting each other as parents and partners.

Parent Counselling is an avenue that helps parents to better understand how to deal with their child’s emotional and mental wellbeing. A parenting counsellor typically gauges the environment that the parents are creating at home for their child and helps the parents to improve the environment by making it more conducive to the child’s mental development and growth. Traditionally, disciplining a child used to be the father’s role and it used to be synonymous with corporal punishment. However, corporal punishment oftentimes leads to an adverse impact on the child’s growth and it can create mental health concerns that would need to be addressed by a parenting counsellor. All children need guidance and discipline in their lives so that they can grow up to be responsible adults. But the method in which the discipline is taught by parents may be the core cause of indiscipline in other facets of the child’s life- such as bullying others or fighting in school. A parenting counsellor would go a long way in helping the parents by defining when and how to discipline their children.

A good father needs to know how to reward good behavior and what to do when rules are broken. Words of praise and loving touches like hugs or high-fives help in encouraging children to repeat good behavior. Bad behavior can be punished by expressing disappointment, asking for an apology, or by taking away a privilege. Above all, the child needs to be clearly explained which behavior is being rewarded or punished, so that he learns the lesson.

Often it happens that a father talks to the child only when something is wrong. If a child quivers when he is told that the father wants to talk to his/her, then the father is never going to be seen as someone who is approachable in tough situations. It is necessary to spend time with the kids and be a part of their daily lives so that they know their father is always there for them. Shared activities like meals and games improve bonding and attachment. Hugging a child makes him feel loved and wanted, but many fathers find it uncomfortable to show affection to children. Men often feel that a display of affection is the role of a mother, however, this International Men’s Day, let’s smash such stereotypes and bring about a positive change in the way we approach parenting and disciplining.

A good father knows that he is a role model for the child. Children who see their parents treating each other with courtesy and respect, feel accepted and secure in the family, are less likely to display mental health concerns and grow into well-adjusted adults. A daughter who grows up with an affectionate father knows that she deserves respect from the boys and what to look for in a life-partner. A son may invariably grow up to be like his father. A father’s role in nurturing a child cannot be over-emphasized.

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If you want help in improving your relationship with your child, seek parenting consultation.

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