How to become a friend to your child?

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Anyone can father a child, but to truly be one is a humongous task. A father plays a pivotal role in the emotional well-being, security and overall self-esteem of a child. It is complex, taxing, unnerving, frustrating but also extremely fulfilling job.

I have a friend who is a single father to a 6-year-old daughter. I think he could put a lot of mothers to shame with his dedication to parenting. Not only is he doing a phenomenal job at raising her, but he is so adept in running the entire household.

Times have surely changed, no longer are fathers simply the bread earners of the family with little contribution to a child’s upbringing. Nowadays there is a huge shift in roles, fathers are hands-on and very involved in all aspects of bringing up their children.

Previously, mothers were viewed as the sole emotional anchor for the child but it isn’t so anymore. Perceptions have to change and more and more people should give credit to fathers who are equally of not more involved with their kids.

Marian Bakersman-kranenberg of Vrije University Amsterdam, who is conducting studies on new fathers and family relations, says “Half of parents are fathers, yet 99% of the research on parenting focuses on mothers”.

One of the complicated question I have observed is distinguishing whether to be a guide or a friend to your child. Especially where dads are concerned, they find his shift a bit tedious and confusing.

Dad, a guide and disciplinarian:

A father’s role is no less or different from a mothers’. He’s there to love, provide comfort and guide his children just like the mother.

There has always been a conflict between should you be a father-father or a friend. Some of the opinion that a dad should stick to the role of the father as if you become too friendly then the child will not be disciplined.

Others feel you should be a friend.

So what should a dad be?

A dad was perceived as someone who imposes rules and is strict. When a child is young, it is important for a dad, along with providing love and support, should impose rules and ensure that kids adhere to them. it establishes a sense of responsibility and respect for self, others and their surroundings.

As a child is nearing 12 years old or sometimes even younger, it becomes essential for a dad to gradually adopt the role of a friend. It has been observed that kids with fathers who in their language is “chilled out”, tend to be emotionally stable and be more responsible for their own actions.

Keep in mind that the rules are similar for a daughter and a son. It should not be “open-minded” for the son and conservative for the daughter. Being a friend means to sometimes be a sounding board, listening, and giving advise without lecturing. If a child can come and discuss their personal life with his/her father, it says a lot about the father’s effort.

Son and Father:

Since an early age, a son tries to make his dad proud of him. He seeks for approval and acceptance and the opinion of his father counts immensely.

A son will emulate from his dad. The father sets a path which a son may or may not follow, but it does establish the basis on which a son will learn how to treat others. He will learn how to treat women by what he observes in his father. Although this may be subjective, an abusive dad’s son may not be like him and vice versa. But a father is able to instill a lot of values in his son by being the best example.

Hence, it is important for a father to not demean his son or make him feel worthless. A son who is motivated by his father will grow to be confident. A supportive and involved father enhances a child’s cognitive skills and overall confidence. 

Daughter and Father:

Daughters look up to their dads as a role model. The daughter looks for similar qualities in her man when she’s looking for a partner. She will relate closely to other men depending on what she has seen in her father. A strong, kind and loving father will help her choose a person of similar attributes. Yet again, it is subjective as it may differ in some instances.

Being friends is a concept that needs to be adopted at the right time. To be able to laugh with your child and discuss relationships can actually be beneficial as sometimes you may be able to guide them discreetly and always be clued in to what kind of friends or partners they choose. Ultimately, keep in mind that once kids are adults we are here to guide them not force them or make them do something against their wishes. Even if you feel they are making a blunder, unfortunately they will only learn from their own mistakes, just like we learnt!

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