What is the role of a Father?
In Victorian times fathers were rarely seen figures whose responsibilities were largely confined to being the family’s ‘law giver’. By the middle of the twentieth century this situation had changed and the role of a father was then seen as being much more the family’s ‘wise breadwinner’.
Things then began to move backwards and the arrival of the 1960s and 1970s saw fathers once again being relegated and being viewed by many as little more than ‘sperm donors’. At the start of the twenty-first century it is difficult to define a father’s role and it’s very much a case of ‘ask six people and you will probably get seven opinions’.
In trying to define the role of a father today we probably need we have to return to basics and ask a number of questions such as “what effect does the presence (or absence) of a father have on the family?” and “what do children gain from having a father?”
These and other similar questions are however extremely difficult to answer. Nevertheless, most studies do agree on one thing and that is that children do not normally do as well without a father and that such things as poor results in schools, drug abuse, violence and criminal behavior are more often found in children who are raised in homes without a father. But why should this be?
Again, it is very difficult to answer this question in simple terms as there is no single cause and a complex combination of financial, psychological and other factors are clearly involved. Nonetheless, whatever the cause, it seems that children need a father to ensure that they get the best start in life.
Aside from their traditional role as the breadwinner and provider of such necessities as food and shelter, fathers undoubtedly provide a number of other important things such as protection for their daughters and a role model for their sons. However, many people feel that this last part, providing protection and guidance for his children, as the main role of a father. As one half of the parental partnership it is possibly his most important contribution to the family unit.
Children are influenced by everything that they see and hear and observing the roles of their parents interacting with one another and working together children learn a great deal. The manner in which matters are discussed and decisions made and the way in which responsibilities are shared between mom and dad provides the children with a parenting model and teaches them various skills.
This, together with a host of other common experiences in a two parent unit, assists in shaping a child’s view of the adult world.
While we could develop this discussion and examine just how the interaction of two parents influences the children in greater detail, things start to get a bit complicated when we begin to take into account such things as the personalities involved and the strength or otherwise of the relationship between the parents.
In the light of this, perhaps the easiest way to answer the question of what a father’s role is today is simply to say that the role of a father is important and that, in most cases, a child will fare better with a father than without one.