There has almost always been a strong emphasis on mother-child relationship on the child’s overall development and growth in interpersonal relationships. This is because most of the early research was focused on the bond between mother and child. It was also based on the concept that women have the genetic gift for providing maternal love and care and everything the child needs for a healthy growth and development. It cannot be denied that women have rightfully been seen to be the major contributor to a child’s development. However, assigning the role fully to the mother is a sign of incomplete understanding of the psychological needs of a child.
Fatherhood too has an important role to play in the growth and development of a child. Here we will explore the importance of both fatherhood and motherhood and why the emphasis shouldn’t be tilted so heavily in one’s favor.
Significance of Motherhood
Motherhood has rightly been seen as the more important of the two aspects of parenthood. Women have both the physical and emotional endowment to bring life into this world and to ensure the overall well-being of the child. Her contribution to parenting cannot be removed from her gender. It is certainly due to her femininity that a woman contributes something better and richer to her child. The vast amount of evidence related to the psychological requirements for bringing up a child show how significant motherhood is in the lives of children. Her importance cannot be replaced by anything, including fathers.
Significance of Fatherhood
Motherhood may contribute in a bigger way to the development of a child, but that doesn’t mean that fatherhood can be eliminated from the overall development phase of a child. There is a lot of similarity between fatherhood and motherhood in terms of the shared human nature between man and woman. However, these similarities don’t negate the big differences. When the objective is to have fully-developed and healthy children, both mothers and fathers should be part of a child’s growth process.
The influence of fatherhood on children at the psychological level has been found to be distinctive and irreplaceable. In fact, as the importance of fatherhood was realized at a progressive rate over time, its concept has undergone shifts at different levels. There was the strictly patriarchal system, followed by breadwinner concept to the friendly playmate to eventually the co-parent concept.
In fact, the scientific community, before 1960s, believed that fatherhood was comparatively unimportant to the overall development of the child. Modern behavioral scientists, when they began studying the role of fatherhood, found that fathers could be as capable as mothers when it comes to being an effectively nurturing caregiver. It was also found that the bond between father and child can be almost as strong and influencing as between mother and child, at the emotional level.
Importance of Father’s Love
Father’s love influences a child’s development at a much deeper level than it has been believed to in the general perception. In fact, lack of it has been found to cause a wide range of developmental and psychological problems in children. This includes behavioral problems, adjustment problems, cognitive abilities, and even gender-role realization. Modern scientists have come to the conclusion that there are two aspects of fatherhood that have the biggest involvement in the child’s overall development. The first one is the warmth of the father-child relation and the second aspect is how involved the father is.
The level of involvement from the father includes factors like how much time he spends with the child, how much they make themselves available, and how much of the responsibility they take over themselves in the welfare and care of the child. All these factors contribute to the overall quality of fatherhood. This quality of the relationship between the father and the child is what makes the biggest difference.
Relation between Lack of Father’s Love and Psychological Well Being
Many studies comparing fatherhood and motherhood have found that father love has a bigger impact on the child’s psychological well being. It has been found that there is a deeper negative impact, often leading to aggression against peers, when there is lack of warmth from the father. Studies have also shown that depressed or offending young individuals were affected more deeply when they felt rejected by the father than their mother. Even important emotional and psychological consequences like distress, satisfaction with life and happiness was found to have higher impact from father-child closeness than from mother-child closeness. This was found both in the case of male and female children.
The level of impact fatherhood plays in a child’s life has been found to be much deeper than ever thought before. Studies show that the impact of father-child relationship warmth is so deep that it has big influence on a teenager’s perception and response towards some of the most important social aspects of life including roles of sex, marriage, and divorce. In fact, the impact of father’s warmth is also significant on childbearing in teenage years.
One reason scientists believe why father’s love and care contributes in a unique way is that they can engage in multi-faced interactions with their child compared to mothers. They are also more likely to inspire the child to become competitive, independent and open to risk taking.
Even today there is a strong belief that motherhood plays the most important role in the development of a child. The fact is that both motherhood and fatherhood are crucial to the proper development of the child. If the modern studies by scientists are to be believed, any lack in father’s love and contribution to the parent-child relation can have more serious consequences than similar shortages in the mother-child relationship.
If anyone wants to bring up healthy child who is developed in all aspects of social, emotional and psychological factors, equal emphasis should be laid on quality fatherhood and motherhood. The influence of father’s love and care is independent of the child’s gender. The importance of father-child relationship is equally important to both sons and daughters.
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