The following excerpt from one of the stories in God Gave Us Wings provides a wonderful example of the importance of a positive father figure in a child’s life.
As this true story reveals, fathers are crucial to their children’s emotional well-being because children base their foundational ideas about how to relate to others and what to consider acceptable and loving in future relationships on this primary relationship.
Interestingly, girls like Donna demonstrate how young women with good relationships with their fathers tend to do better in school. In comparison, a father-son bond is an important first step in a child’s social growth and has shown to reduce the frequency of behavioral problems in boys, to mention just a few.
Not surprisingly, one of Donna’s fondest childhood memories is staying up late with her beloved father to watch television, which included Friday night wrestling matches. She knew all the wrestlers’ names by heart. It was not necessarily something the rest of the family enjoyed, but it gave Donna and her dad quality time together. Donna says her father was “a brilliant man and initially wanted to be a doctor; however, his father died while he was in high school, forcing him to work to help support his mother.” Nevertheless, her dad instilled in Donna a love of education and a belief in the importance of getting a college degree, though this was not typical for women of her era, especially in Houston’s Italian community.
Donna loved school and was ranked number one in her eighth-grade class; she graduated from high school 16th in a class of 174 and was one of the few girls in her high school to attend college
Donna earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Houston, where she made the dean’s list. This humble woman, who appreciates her loving family and the values they’ve inspired in her, says she is “glad my dad raised the bar for me to strive to do better than other women of the time. My father would say, ‘Women who don’t have morals like yours…make it harder for women who have morals like yours.’”
In contrast with Donna’s experience, according to an article in The Huffington Post, “only 20 percent of American households consist of married couples with children. Filling the gap are family structures of all kinds, with dads stepping up to the plate and taking on a myriad of roles. When they are engaged, fathers can make a difference. He may be classically married, single, divorced, widowed, gay, straight, adoptive, step-father, a stay-at-home dad, or the primary family provider. What is important is that he is involved.”
There are certainly ways fathers can remain bonded with their children even if they are separated through divorce or other life experiences, as Dr. Gail Gross shares in her article “Tips to Help Children through Divorce.” (Drgailgross.com) The bottom line is that fathers are essential to children’s development, and they need the presence and guidance of fathers in their families.
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