“Children really do learn what they live. Not having the perspective of older people, they consider whatever their family is like as their “normal.” From infancy, girls draw conclusions about what men are like from the men in their life. If there is a father (or a male in her life who takes a father role), that man becomes her guidepost for what to expect of men and what to expect of men’s attitude toward women. His relationship to her mother or his significant other is her template for what her relationship with a man will be when she grows up.”
Marie Hartwell-Walker, ED.D
A father is also the first male role model for a son on his road to manhood. Studies have shown that involvement of a father, or a positive male role model, in the lives of children has profound effects on them and their future. Warren Farrell, author of “Why Men Are the Way They Are” suggests that children of divorce (who lack regular contact with their fathers) tend to struggle with the five D’s: depression, drugs, drinking, discipline and delinquency. However, some may argue that no role model is better than a bad father role model, which may indeed be true.
But, with nearly a quarter of America’s children living in single mother families, many children go without seeing their father because he just isn’t there. These children live with a woman and more than likely, they are taught by a woman at school. So where do they see and interact with positive male role models? This may take some effort by the mother to seek out, but may be well worth it for the betterment of their child’s development.
- Extended family – Arrange to spend more time with your brothers, father or male friends.
- Sport Coaches – Enroll your child into a sport or activity where the leader is a positive male role model.
- Mannies are becoming all the rage, where young men are taking on the nanny/babysitter position instead of the traditional female.
- Don’t be shy to request a male teacher (if he is reputed to be good) to be the teacher for your child, when moving into an upper grade.
- The Boys & Girls Clubs here on Maui have great male role models ‘manning’ the stations as do the lifeguards at the beaches if your child is going to get into surfing.
- There are also some great single dads out there, and fathers who enjoy play dates too.
The positive influence a good male role model can have on a child can also be turned on it’s head, in that, a father benefits positively from staying involved with their children. A scientific research at the Oregon Social Learning Center, led an 18-month study of 230 divorced fathers with kids ages 4 to 11. Fathers who stayed involved with their children had better health, drank less and had lower substance use (although it could be argued that these facts were the reason they did stay involved). Other findings also suggest that fatherhood makes a man less self-centered, more giving and more empowered to love… Positive attachments and strong relationships are also linked with better mental health, for everyone involved, so rock on good male role models, thanks for being there!
Image Credit: Happy-Bandits