Tips & Advice

6 Ways Fathers Influence Their Children

6 Ways Fathers Influence Their Children

Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

A child’s self esteem is formed through consistent messages and interactions by the adults in their life. If the majority of these messages are encouraging and approving then a healthy, positive self-esteem will be developed. If the majority is negative and critical then a child will develop doubts and insecurities, and essentially develop a low self-esteem.

Confidence is formed in a similar way. If a child knows what they are good at and knows what they can rely on they will grow confidence in their abilities and their safety. This only occurs if they have someone who acknowledges their achievements (even small ones). This starts from the very first moments children are born, where we congratulate them on burping, or saying ‘please’, but continues through adolescence where we can give them more complex affirmations, such as “I thought that tackle you made after half time was very brave!”

Sexuality, Masculinity, Personal Identity

Social pressure and developing identity give fathers a major role in exemplifying masculinity and setting the standards of behaviour. How fathers perceive themselves as men, and how they interact with their wives or significant others are all part of what a child begins to understand as ‘normal’. Positive/negative comments on how people look begin to show children how men perceive the body so it is important to set clear positive messages about body image, and gender. A good example of this is saying “Your smile is beautiful”, where a lot of people say “your dress is beautiful”. Giving positive affirmation about gender – like commenting to your daughter that she is very strong – or commenting to your son that his haircut looks cool, are ways to demonstrate ‘masculinity’ as a way of uplifting other people. If we want our children to do this for themselves, they also need to see it demonstrated between adults in their life.

“My father never told me what to do, he just lived his life and let me watch him do it” – Unknown

Relationships & Marriage

Few people realise that marriage is one of the most challenging commitments that we make in our lives. Few people have acquired or decided to acquire the necessary skills to translate an initial romantic love into a successful, long-lasting marriage, in which the partners work together to surmount the inevitable problems that arise and grow in ever-deepening commitment and love. Whether we’re happily married or miserably attached is often a reflection of the type of bond that our parents had nurtured. When we get married, we tend to fall into the patterns of behaviour that we observed and learnt from our parents. What he does or does not do around the house becomes imprinted in us as the template of a man or husband. Positive or negative, our father is the man setting the standard against which all other men will be measured.

Personal and Professional Achievement

It can be difficult as fathers to place a healthy amount of effort and emphasis on achievement, both personally and for our children. Understanding our own values of  success are critical if we want to be able to understand how we are encouraging or pressuring our children. It can be easy to expect our children to act in adult ways because we value that for ourselves, but these expectations only set our children up to fall short of an adult standard, and feel a sense of failure. 

If we want our children to develop a healthy understanding of success which feeds into their self-esteem we need to tailor these efforts to their age. If your 5 year old can make their bed, then foster that as an achievement. However, for your 15 year old it is more appropriate that making their bed is an expectation. Do not over complicate, but it is equally important not to over simplify.

Being a Parent

There is no manual for becoming a father. But we can learn how to become a good father by taking time to think about what we are doing, and being willing to change our approach so our children have a response that benefits us both.

Values & Beliefs

The values and beliefs that we live by and the world view we develop form and direct our lives. They determine our goals, influence our behaviour, shape our relationships, sustain us through hard times and determine our level of involvement in the community. Fathers who have close relationships with their children and demonstrate deep, moral behaviour, have a powerful influence on instilling our ethics and values. This helps us children to develop an internal moral compass, our own inner sense of ‘right and wrong’ that will guide them in their future decisions and actions.