The Importance of Dads

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Except from Chapter Five of Thicker Than Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World

I was impressed with the depth of teens’ need for their fathers when I researched my first book on teen suicide. I interviewed thirty teens and found that twenty-seven of them had poor relationships with their fathers. They wanted a good relationship, but they didn’t have it. It seemed that just as they entered their teen years and needed their fathers, they were abandoned by them.

For some decades, psychologists have emphasized the mother’s role in the child’s life, but fathers are now being studied more. Two-career families demand more child care of fathers, and peer pressure to spend time with their children also positively influences them. This will, no doubt, result in emotionally healthier children as researchers find that fathers contribute greatly to a child’s emotional stability. According to some studies,[i] adoptive fathers are emotionally closer to their children than non-adoptive fathers—an assertion that needs more study to try to determine what aspect of fathering adoptive fathers emphasize. Some aspects of fathering seem to be of particular importance for adoptees. Mothers and others influence children as well, but this section of the book is all about Dad.

I understand the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Dad’s matter. And not just on Father’s Day. They are needed as a loving support, but also as a role model and a reliable wall of security and protection.  I’ve seen a child filing in with his class for a presentation, scanning the audience, checking to see if Dad has arrived. Love matters. Dad’s matter. Society has greater expectations of father’s emotional maturity today than it did in the past and fathers now need to show care and concern for their children as well as provide for them financially.  Perhaps because adoptive fathers must attend parenting classes, examine their reasons for wanting to be a father and discuss all this with their partners and the social workers, they may be better prepared to be parents than fathers who have not had those experiences. If you asked children, all dads are important. We all want our dad to have a strong bond with us. Adoptive dads seem to have a head start.

[i]  Rosa Rosnati and Caniela Barni, “Being a Father: A Comparison Between Adoptive and Non-Adoptive Families with School-Aged Children .” http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.557.8250&rep=rep1&type=pdf