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Pakistan: Sharing responsibility: All I want is my Dad.

Pakistan, June 27 -- Recently, while sitting in a park with some friends, I saw a man who had brought his young kids to the park and was pushing them on the swings. 'Don't those kids have a mother?' I overheard one of the women sitting nearby remark.

The comment made me laugh, but unfortunately it addresses a much deeper issue. Nobody questions a mother's role in raising kids. However, when it comes to fathers, their role is less clearly defined, and regrettably, as a result, is greatly diminished.

Traditionally, fathers are considered the primary breadwinners who go to work during the day and by the time they get home the kids are either asleep, or they themselves settle in front of the TV, exhausted after work. During the day, whenever the mother has to discipline the children she takes the support of the father by saying things like: 'Just wait till your father gets home!', etc. On TV we see the stereotypical father, sitting at the head of the dining table, reading the paper while occasionally glancing up to furrow his brow when the kids make too much noise. Nowadays, fathers are often abroad due to work or are busy jet-setting to meetings all over the world earning money to sustain a better life for their kids.

Therefore, their role in family life is restricted. Seeing a father change a diaper, push a stroller through the park, tell a poem, dance to a nursery rhyme, or play an active part in his child's school life is an anomaly. My friend, a mother of two toddlers, described her frustration one day. 'I kept telling my husband to spend time with the kids, but he simply didn't know how. He just wasn't programmed that way. I had to literally put papers and crayons on the floor and tell him to begin by just colouring with them.'

Whether the father's participation in his children's upbringing is an issue or not is disputed. But research strongly indicates the importanceof father's role in the psychological, social and even cognitive development of a child. Fathers should not just be considered as second adults at home as they bring positive benefits to their children that no other person can.

Fathers often express their love by buying expensive toys for the children and consider it sufficient for a child, but a child, whether a toddler or a teenager, needs his/her father's attention, participation, understanding and friendship more than anything in the world. A father opens new doors for his children by helping them to develop a skill and boost their confidence.

The manner in which fathers and mothers interact with their children is very different. While mothers are nurturing and tender, fathers tend to be more boisterous and fun-loving. For example, little games such as holding a toy out of reach or wrestling with their father are exciting for toddlers and help in healthy development.

A father's influence on the child's emotional development also comes through direct teaching and daily interaction. Discussing the day's activities over the dinning table as well as one-on-one conversation with one's father can sow deep seeds of trust and create a strong bond. Many of us may remember things our fathers said to us which have always stayed in our minds. Fathers have a major influence on helping their children build strong social relationships during childhood as well as in the future.

Adolescence is often a time of increased conflict between children and their parents. Teenagers rely more upon their fathers for conversation, advice, and just 'being there'. Despite their loud protests, teens actually do want their parents in their lives. This is an important time for talking; fathers can encourage their children to confide in them about their hopes and dreams, as well as help them to set goals for their future and take decisions in their daily lives. They can also try doing things together which involve close interaction, such as a picnic lunch outside or a board game, instead of going to the cinema.

Importantly, the relationship between the mother and the father is of paramount importance in a child's life. When a child sees his parents being caring, affectionate and respectful towards each other, it lays a strong base for his relationships in the future. It also creates a sense of security. Discipline at home should be teamwork; parents should back each other's decisions and never involve the children in their disputes.

While pressures at the workplace and financial obligations limit interaction with children, it is important to remember who you are actually earning that money for. One teenager, I know, responded to his father's request for a birthday gift list as: 'All I want for my birthday is a hug from you'

Published by HT Syndication with permission from The Friday Times. For more information on news feed please contact Sarabjit Jagirdar at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

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Publication:The Friday Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 27, 2010
Words:831
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