This is a guest post by Ashley Hardway
There is nothing quite like the love of a dad. Mom’s love is so comforting and nurturing and lets us know we are loved unconditionally. The two loves are hard to compare and are equal in their importance. So many times today we see children left with only one parent and generally it is the mom. The importance of dads and the benefit of having them in children’s lives cannot be replaced by any other love.
In no way am I trying to discount the position or importance of a mother in a child’s life. Mom cannot be replaced any more than dad. So many mothers today are trying to take over the role of mom and dad because of absentee fathers and that is an impossible thing. Women are just not able to be men no matter how hard they try. Dads give us a sense of security and of strength and safety that is so much needed in the world today.
In many cases dads just drop out of the picture but I have noticed that even when they do stick around their roles as dad are so often taken over by the mom. So many men today have grown up without a dad in their lives so when they become a dad they do not have a clue as how to fill that role. When this happens, often the mom steps in to take over both roles; which is understandable to be sure because they are concerned about the children. But it further diminishes the role of dad and turns into a vicious cycle that actually ends up hurting the children.
If more women would step back and let the dads take over, even when they are making mistakes, it would benefit the dad and the children. As long as the motives of the dad are out of love then the children will still feel safe and secure knowing that dad was doing his best. So many of us have been raised by strong mothers who produce men that never learn how to be men and it in turn teaches women to take over as dominant parent from a young age. It would take quite a bit of work for families to turn this situation around but it is possible. The most important part of this change is love and a strong desire to make our families better by allowing each parent to take on the proper role.
On the other hand if this is not all done in love it could cause even more damage. In my own family growing up the roles were very dominant as far as mom and dad. Perhaps too much so in that there was not really teamwork between our parents but more of a dictatorship. Dad was in complete control and everyone and everything was under his control. Mom was very much mom and was a wonderful nurturing, unconditional loving mother. But when dad was in the picture she had little control over what was said and done. As I look back I believe he did love us and his intentions were good but his authoritarian dictatorship was hard for all of us to bear. When he was not around mom would try to make amends and the three of us siblings ended up confused and resentful in the end.
Our dad was raised in a wealthy home with a dad that was always working and an overbearing mother who gave him what he wanted. He was badly spoiled and let go and so when dad had kids he was determined this would not happen to us. The trouble with this philosophy was that all children are not the same just as all adults are not the same. We all have different personalities and what works well for one person does not necessarily work well for another. Dad treated us all equally with verbal retorts and harsh punishments. I was an introvert who was almost unbearably shy and could not raise my hand to ask for help in school. We were not allowed to get help from mom either; we were to do it on our own. Apparently dad got a lot of help so we would not. When report cards came home if you got a C or less you were punished. I desperately needed help and was constantly in a state of punishment.
Looking back on my childhood I am thankful that our dad stayed with us and took very good care of us as far as a nice place to live, food, and clothing. He judged everything we did on what he had done in his lifetime; he always said he knew what we were thinking. He was never right about me and it was detrimental to my emotional growth when he suggested I had wrong motives. Many times it surprised me to find out what he thought was going on in my mind because it never even crossed my mind.
As fathers (and mothers) it is very important to not judge our children based on our lives. We need to be balanced with our kids even if we were not raised that way. It can be very hard to change the way you were brought up but it is not impossible. Love is the key in changing our thinking, putting our children’s well being above our own emotions. We need to work hard at changing the past to make the future a much better and brighter place for our kids.
Dads have the ability to give their boys and girls a strong character that will take them far in life. So many people today have no character, no moral excellence, nothing to set them apart from the rest of the world. A dad’s love gives boys their identities as a male and it also gives girls a moral compass on which to understand when they are being treated with respect by other men. It is virtually impossible for a mom to give their boys their male identities. And it is equally impossible for them to show their girls an example of how they should be treated by men. Moms can tell boys how they should act and think but they can not show them. Moms can also tell the girls what to expect in the way of respect from a man but they can not show them what it feels like. When the dad is not present physically or emotionally that pretty much says it all.
Being raised in a dominant male environment as my siblings and I were with way too much criticism and very little demonstrative love on the part of our dad made for a lot of emotional heartache. The boys ended up being pretty hard-hearted men and the one girl had a very low self-esteem which caused her to be taken advantage of by men. As boys they both tried hard to meet the expectations of their dad but I have seen it go both ways. Some men get very passive in submission.
Balance in parenting is important; the role of mom and dad should be split accordingly. Dad’s role can not be replaced by mom and vice versa. But I think in our society today the father’s role and importance has nearly diminished. The importance of a dad is very real and men today need to fight for their roles as dad. Dads need to fight to stay with the kids, and fight the uphill emotional battle to regain their rightful positions in today’s families. Your children will benefit more than you will ever know if you persist and overcome all obstacles in becoming the dad they need.
Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.