Fathers and father figures: The need for male role models

Over
the years Father’s Day has become a day to not only honour your father, but all
men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and adult
male friends are all honoured on Father’s Day. So, even if you are not a
biological Dad, if you make some special contribution to someone’s life, don’t
be surprised if they wish you a Happy Father’s Day.

Irrefutable
research shows that mothers are typically nurturing, soft, gentle, comforting,
protective and emotional. Fathers tend to be challenging, prodding, loud,
playful, physical, and encourage risk taking. Children need a balance of
protection and reasonable risk taking. If a positive male role model is not
present in the life of a child there is a void in this area. Studies have shown
that involvement of a father or a positive male role model in the lives of children
has profound effects on them. Father-child interaction promotes a child’s
physical well being, perceptual ability and competency in relating to others.
These children also demonstrate greater ability to take initiative and they
evidence self-control.

Child
and teen development expert Dr. Robyn Silverman describes seven characteristics
of a positive role model that remain constant.

Model positive choice-making

Eyes
are watching and ears are listening! When it comes to being a role model, you
must be aware that the choices you make not only impact you but also the
children who regard you as their superhero.

•Think
out loud

When
you have a tough choice to make, allow the children to see how you work through
the problem, weigh the pros and cons, and come to a decision. The process of
making a good decision is a skill and one your children will learn through
example.

Apologise and admit mistakes

Nobody’s
perfect! When you make a bad choice, let those who are watching and learning
from you know that you made a mistake and how you plan to correct it.

Follow through

We
all want children to stick with their commitments and follow through with their
promises. However, as adults, we get busy, distracted, and sometimes a bit
lazy. So, if you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do.

Show respect

You
may be driven, successful, and smart (but whether you choose to show respect or
not speaks volumes about the type of attitude it takes to make it in life.)

Be well-rounded

While
we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, it’s important to show children
that we can be more than just one thing. Great role models aren’t just parents
or teachers. They’re great teachers and challenge themselves to get out of
their comfort zones.

Demonstrate confidence

Whatever
you choose to do with your life, be proud of the person you’ve become and
continue to become. Psychologist Albert Bandura believed that much of learning
comes from observational learning and instruction rather than from obvious,
trial-and-error behaviour. Imitation of a model’s behaviour when the model is
no longer present is a powerful learning skill. The critical features of
imitation are that the child need not produce the behaviour right away, and the
model need not be reinforced in order for the observer to learn. Social
learning theorists believe that personality is learned and that new behaviours
can be acquired by simply watching a model.

The effects of modelling on
behaviour are:

Teaches
new behaviours.     

Influences
the frequency of previously learned behaviours.

May
encourage previously forbidden behaviours.

Increases
the frequency of similar behaviours.

Keep
in mind that children are like sponges. They soak up everything they see and
hear. Why no let them soak up the positive? Today one can find many different
kinds of fathers. Some are what we would think of as a traditional father,
others are long-distance dads, step-dads, grandfathers, uncles or simply role
models. No matter what kind of father he is, he impacts the life of his child.

To schedule a confidential
appointment with The Employee Assistance Programme, contact 949-9559, or
www.eap.ky

Fathers

Father figures needn’t be blood relatives and are vital role models in society.
Photo: File

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