Father’s Day: – The Importance Of Fathers In A Child’s Life

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and with it comes the annual scramble to find the perfect gift for Dad. “What are we going to get him this year?” we wonder. Another pair of socks? A book he might never read? A new set of pens even though he hasn’t written anything since he last balanced his chequebook in the ’90s? Amidst this flurry of gift-giving, I’ve often pondered, “How did Father’s Day come to be?”

Did it start as a ploy by greeting card companies? Did the dads get jealous of Mother’s Day and demand their own holiday? Interestingly enough, Father’s Day has only been a nationwide holiday in the U.S. since 1972. Yes, you read that right. It’s younger than many of our dads and granddads. Meanwhile, Mother’s Day has been around since 1914, giving moms a solid 58-year head start .

Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day

Men’s Health Week is celebrated annually from June 13–19, leading up to and including Father’s Day. There’s no question that parents’ healthy involvement impacts a child’s well-being. But it’s often motherhood, rather than fatherhood, that dominates parenting studies. This brings us to the crux of the matter: How important are fathers in a child’s life?

 As Carl Jung said: “Every father is given the opportunity to corrupt his daughter’s nature, and the educator, husband, or psychiatrist then has to face the music. For what has been spoiled by the father can only be made good by a father, just as what has been spoiled by the mother can only be repaired by a mother.”

The Role of Fathers: Beyond the Title

Being a father is not just a title; it’s a calling, a responsibility, and a journey that transforms us in ways we never imagined. We often question ourselves: Am I doing enough for my children? Am I the role model they need? Will they understand the sacrifices I make for them? These doubts, these whispers of uncertainty, are the “little voice” inside every father’s heart.

The world may not always understand the depth of a father’s love. It may not see the countless hours we spend working to provide for our families, the sleepless nights we endure to soothe our child’s fears, or the silent prayers we whisper for their happiness and success. Yet, despite this, fathers play a crucial role in shaping the lives of their children.

Research on Fathers: Unveiling the Impact

While both parents are crucial to the development of a child, research on the father’s role has only recently gained traction. Historically, studies focused primarily on the mother’s role, often considering fathers as the “other parent.” However, more recent research has shed light on the unique and vital role that fathers play.

In the early 1980s, Sheila Brachfeld-Child studied parent-child interactions and found distinct differences in how mothers and fathers played with their children. Fathers tended to engage in more active play, while mothers focused on teaching activities and fine motor skills. Similarly, Michael Lamb’s research found that children turned to fathers for play and to mothers for comfort when stressed or upset.

 Child Development: The Father’s Role

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children with involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in exploring their surroundings, and socially connected. Additionally, these children tend to have higher educational achievements.

The importance of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. An active and nurturing fathering style is linked with better intellectual functioning, verbal skills, and academic achievement among adolescents.

The Emotional Anchor

Fathers are often seen as the emotional anchors in a family. From an early age, children look to their fathers for strength and security. An involved father can significantly boost a child’s emotional development. Studies show that children with actively involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident, and better able to handle stress.

The Role Model

Fathers serve as role models for their children. Sons learn from their fathers how to navigate the world of men – how to treat others, how to face challenges, and how to be responsible and caring individuals. Daughters, on the other hand, often base their expectations of men on their relationships with their fathers. A loving and respectful father-daughter relationship can set the foundation for healthy relationships in the future.

The Playmate

One of the unique roles fathers often play is that of the playmate. Research by Sheila Brachfeld-Child and Michael Lamb shows that fathers tend to engage in more physical and stimulating play compared to mothers. This type of play is crucial for the development of motor skills, social skills, and cognitive abilities. It encourages children to take risks, solve problems, and develop a sense of independence.

The Teacher

Fathers also contribute significantly to the intellectual development of their children. Whether it’s helping with homework, teaching how to ride a bike, or discussing the complexities of life, fathers have a unique way of imparting knowledge and wisdom. Studies have found that children with involved fathers perform better academically and have higher IQs.

The Protector

Fathers are often seen as the protectors of the family. They provide a sense of safety and security that is essential for a child’s well-being. This protective nature helps children feel secure enough to explore their surroundings and take on new challenges.

The Disciplinarian

While discipline can come from either parent, fathers often take on this role in many families. This doesn’t mean being harsh or authoritarian; rather, it involves setting boundaries and teaching right from wrong. Effective discipline from a father helps children develop self-control and respect for others.

The Nurturer

Fatherhood isn’t just about being a provider or disciplinarian; it’s also about nurturing. Fathers who are affectionate and supportive help foster their children’s social and emotional development. This nurturing relationship helps children develop empathy, social skills, and strong emotional bonds.

The Broader Impact of Fatherhood

Fatherhood isn’t just about biological ties. Non-biological father figures, such as stepfathers and godfathers, also have a significant impact. While being a biological dad is important, the emotional and nurturing support from all father figures is invaluable.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama had no father figure in his life and stated: “I didn’t really know my father — he left my mother and me when I was two years old. I had to figure out how to be a man on my own.”

Challenges and Realities of Fatherhood

Being a dad is tough. It requires constant self-improvement and emotional work. My son often gives me honest feedback, which helps me grow. As a father, I’ve faced many challenges and learned that it’s important to work on myself so I can be there for my child in the best way possible. They remind me to be patient and communicate effectively, even when it’s hard.

 Resources for Fathers

  • Books:-
  1. King Me: What Every Son Wants and Needs from His Father by Steven Farrar
  2. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
  3. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker, M.D.
  4. Dad on Purpose: The Busy Dad’s Playbook for Loving Better, Doing More, and Breathing Easier by Tim Dunn
  5. Parenting with Temperament in Mind: Navigating the Challenges and Celebrating Your Child’s Strengths by Liliana J. Lengua and Maria Amy Gartstein (Publication Date: August 2024)
  • Articles:
  1. How Therapy Helped Me Become a Better Dad, According to 10 Men by Lizzy Francis:
  2. The Importance of Fathers for Child Development by Jennifer E. Lansford, Ph.D.:


Fatherhood is a complex and important role that has a huge impact on children’s lives. During Fatherhood Awareness Month, and beyond, let’s appreciate and highlight the critical roles fathers and father figures play. Being a parent is tough, but with support, resources, and constant self-improvement, we can strive to be the best versions of ourselves for our children.

So this Father’s Day, let’s not just celebrate with gifts, but also acknowledge the profound influence fathers have on our lives. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, stepdads, and father figures out there!

Dr. Shailesh


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