How Important is a Dad?

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By Jami Keller

The true value of a Father, imperfections and all, is becoming more and more apparent in our society and our world. Research now tells us that the influence of a Dad (whether present or absent) has as great an impact as the Mother; and the way that either parent feels about the child is paramount.

Since 1995, when Marla and I first started coaching couples in their relationships, we always have stressed how important it is to be “together-together.” From our work, we just knew from the very beginning that this partnership was vital to the well-being of children, no matter what the status of the relationships. It turns out that we have been proven right, and then some.

Being connected and mindful of your partner and the goals you share makes all the difference in life, especially when it comes to child rearing. The good news is that no matter the issues, IT IS VIABLE! We believe this is due to the way the Mother feels about the Father, but time will tell as better studies are done.

This article explains how a baby’s time in the womb is vital, and has the greatest influence on the role of a Father in his child’s life. We know that the dynamic between parents greatly affects a child’s attitude and behavior. Nearly every time a couple comes to us for their relationship and starts using the tools we provide, they report that their children are also happier and behaving better.

Here is more background on the impact that parents (especially the Dads) have on their children from conception to infancy! And, I would add that this influence continues to have a high impact on children through adulthood, as I have seen with my 24 and 25-year old daughters.

One thing that people ask us about is whether or not it’s too late to fix things. Mothers especially feel unnecessary guilt about the things done, and not done. I say “unnecessary” because we all do the best we can, even very sick parents we have worked with have tried to do well by their children. Nearly everything is fixable! So Dad, you really can change things around, even if your kids are thirty!

Here is our list of things to do and say this Father’s Day (no matter what the current relationship looks like), in order to take full advantage of the role you play and its influence on your family:

1)  Accept any appreciation with a big smile and a “thank you!” Let the family know you were there as much as possible. Even if your choices could have been better, you did the best you could have at the time. Don’t let hindsight rob you of your contributions, even when you made mistakes.

2)  Let the children know you wanted them! This is a foundational issue for all of us. For me, being adopted by my Dad at the age of two meant enough to me to get past most of the “difficult stuff” – because he chose me! And, because he didn’t have to. No matter the biology, parenting happens. If there is “another Dad” in the picture, let that be true as well. It is far better to be graceful, even when there are conflicts.

3)  Give Mom the credit she deserves. At the very least, she carried those babies. And guys, we all know how much more difficult it could have been without her. If possible, show the family what is most important by valuing her – being connected and loving. This means listening and meeting her needs even if that means helping her ask for them.

4)  Be Present! Turn off the phone and television, and look into your family’s eyes and really let the moment grow your connection.

5)  Say the words, “I LOVE YOU and I AM PROUD OF YOU!” We have yet to work with someone who does not value these words from their Father. It can be the greatest gift at any age!

So, go ahead and do the “Dad stuff” on Father’s Day. Accept the cards or calls with a listening ear. Be open to the lives that you have contributed to, even if some of that contribution has been painful. Some of our greatest gifts come from our greatest pain, especially when our Dads come back into the picture and are present with a grateful heart.