A Man As Father
Preparation for fatherhood has been sadly neglected. A young girl may pick up certain amount of experience from babysitting and later she may in enroll in a family living class. But no system is known to train fathers for their important role. Yet it is crucial that men develop an awareness of their vital role in the development of an emotionally healthy child.
During the time a young man dates and courts his bride-to-be, he maintains a certain amount of independence. Once they get married, he quickly learns to include his wife in his plans, but nevertheless, he still retains a measure of independence. After a baby comes along, he loses an even greater portion of his independence and finds that his wife depends on him more heavily than previous and need especially large doses of affection, security and encouragement. A man must recognize this need and give this kind of support. Then the security they find by working together will be transmitted to their child.
Although the mother usually spends the most time with a child, we should not underestimate the father’s role. Fathers make several contributions to a child’s growth that they alone can provide. The first and most important thing a father can do is to be a man. From his father a boy learns masculine traits that he will copy and that will become a part of his personality. From him a young man learns how a man’s man acts. If a father wants his son to develop a healthy attitude towards women, he must provide a model of respect, for a child will set his values by observing how Mom and Dad get along. If a son observes his father downgrading women, he will imitate this attitude. If his father is familiar with women friends of his wife, the boy will quickly pick this up and think, “This is the way for a man’s man to act with woman.”
Girls need a relationship with their fathers as much as boys do. A girl must learn the differences between the male and female roles, and her father helps her develop her own feminity. Fathers must realize that a growing girl needs her father to appreciate her. She needs to dress to please him and to act like a girl. One reason few adult women feel real closeness, comfort and understanding in their relationships with men is because their fathers never provided them with an opportunity to develop such feelings early in life.
The type of caring relationship a young girl establishes with her father critically affects her sexual functioning years down the line. Dr. Seymour Fisher investigated the difference between women with high and those with low sexual responsiveness. He discovered that a woman’s capacity for orgasm is very strongly tied to her perceptions and feelings concerning the dependability and trust that she has invested in people in general and men in particular.
Women high in orgasmic response had an emotionally healthy relationship with their father during the early years. They had learned that men were there to look for a woman’s best interests and to care what happened to her.
Women who had a low capacity for orgasm lacked this stabilizing factor. They felt that significant people in their lives would either go away or let them down, so therefore they couldn’t depend on them. They found it difficult to trust, to relax, and to abandon themselves in the arms of their husbands. Their apprehension robbed them of their ability to respond sexually.
The study stated: “The lower a woman’s orgasm capacity, the more likely she is to describe her father as having treated her ‘casually,’ without elaborate attempts to control or enforcing his will, as having been easygoing rather than expecting conformity to well-defined rules. To put it another way, the greater a woman’s orgasm capacity, the less permissive and the more controlling she perceives her father to be.”
Clearly the significant male in woman’s early years set the pattern and tone that will greatly influence her expectations during her married years. The girl whose father is involved and interested, who invests himself in her, learns very early that a man can really care what happens to her. A little girl needs to have a father who actively sets standards in her life.
The stabilizing role a father play goes far beyond financial support and providing for the comforts of the home. When a father is separated from his family, either by physical or emotional absence, children show serious deficiencies in their social and moral relationships with their mothers, peers and neighbors. The more direct role a father assumes in guiding and directing his family, then the more likely the family will be stable and the children will enjoy greater emotional stability.