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The Importance of Father's Time
By Seth Metcalf
Take a look around. If you really want to, you can pick up the phone and call China. If you want a package from Germany tomorrow, you need only click a mouse or, at most, make a phone call. Technology's ascension has changed not only business, but the family as well. Most children no longer play in the park and hunt frogs, but rather watch television and surf the Internet. With the resources like these available today, it seems that much of the developing influence previously reserved for parents lies in the media. Consequentially, our children are receiving their values from media moguls who are inspired by the dollar instead of the heart. We cannot allow society to corrupt the minds of the future. As fathers, we have a responsibility to do something to save our children, to rescue them from the values portrayed in video games and on television. Much of what is available now in the media will only contribute to the downslide of society into a state of moral apathy.
To reverse this process, we need to look at the problem on the most basic level. 'Parental involvement' has come to mean that Mom helps with the homework and activities. Finding the necessary time to spend with our children is, indeed, more and more difficult because of the ever-increasing demands of a competitive marketplace; but as society slips away into a moral state of numbness, our greatest trump card as fathers may just be ourselves. An increased amount of father-child involvement has proven to increase a child's social stability, educational achievement, and even their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult.
When fathers take an active role in their children's lives, it not only helps them to develop healthy friendships and achieve good grades, but it will play a major role in their success as adults. Those adults who say their fathers where highly involved in their lives attend more schooling and have a higher average salary than those with lower father involvement (Peters 106). It is apparent that a father's interest in his child carries over to the child's own ambition to succeed. What then are we to do to assure that our children achieve the success noted in these studies?
Another opportunity for fathers, especially when their children are young, is bedtime. Hopefully, the night has calmed down and there is an opportunity to have quality time alone with the children. Simple things such as reading a book or recounting the day's events have the potential to make a child feel more secure while deepening the father-child relationship. When children learn to respect and love their parents, they are more willing to communicate and accept the guidance they will receive later in life. Parents, in turn, respect their children for their social maturity.
Mutual respect promotes sensitivity and understanding toward others and plays a crucial role in how well our children are able to work together with others in all aspects of their lives. Some of the fondest memories I have from my childhood are those spent working with my father. It's true that I wasn't always excited to go work in the yard, but once into it, I enjoyed the time it afforded me to get to know my father on a more mature level. Working together gives you time to talk without having to 'have a talk.' It was through working side by side with my father that I really developed a respect for him and his experiences in life. Because of these times together, I am willing to turn to him for counsel. By nurturing our relationship, my father prepared me to deal with others generously on a personal level. His influence wasn't only effective because of the wisdom that he possessed, but more so because I knew that he really cared. His concern motivates me to extend that same level of caring to those around me.
The world is demanding. As fathers, we don't hold all of the answers to repairing society. Despite all your attempts as a father, your children may still have unresolved social issues; there is no cure-all in fatherhood. As a father, you hold some of the keys to unlocking the hopes and dreams within your children. When they are grown, you hope that they look back on you as their hero, someone who shaped their life for good. John Gottman, a family researcher, indicated why it is that fathers have such a deciding effect on their children's lives. He states, 'We believe the reason fathers have this extreme influence on their children is because the father-child relationship evokes such powerful emotions in kids'. Spending quality time with your children can unleash this huge potential to guide them to happy, healthy development.