Celebrating Father Figures

During the month of June we celebrate Fathers Day, and if there are fathers and grandfathers in your life, let them know how important they are to you. Most men will tell you that becoming a father was a life changing experience that helped them understand what it means to love, protect, and be responsible for a child. However, if your father is no longer alive, spend some time reflecting on what he meant to you as a child.

Due to life circumstances, financial burdens, or emotional limitations, some children grow up without having fathers in their lives. Most will experience a lifetime longing for that relationship, even if they never knew their dads. There are children who are fortunate enough to have wonderful stepfathers, or men in their lives who care for them, like uncles, teachers, big brothers, mentors, or other father figures. These role models give attention, love, and guidance, providing children with the support to grow up confident and hopeful.

If you know a child who doesn’t have a father or has lost a father, think about what kind of attention you can provide. Here are ideas that might resonate with you:

  • When you’re with children tell them what you like about them. Focus on their strengths, not on their challenges. Give specific encouragement like “I noticed how you helped your little sister with her homework, she’s really lucky to have you around.”
  • Stay connected with children through letters, e-mail, phone calls, or even texting. Communicate that you’re thinking of them in simple ways.
  • Listen! Make the time and space to hear what children are thinking and feeling. Take a walk, go for a drive, or have a lunch date.  It’s a gift for children to be heard and seen, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to have meaningful connections.
  • It’s important to have fun, but also to provide stability. Offer help with homework, studying, and other challenging tasks.
  • Participate with a local school as a mentor. Your one-on-one attention for a child could make the difference between passing or failing.

The time and attention adults spend with children will influence them for a lifetime. Your loving words and actions can help children grow into caring and compassionate adults. Research shows that a key ingredient to children’s resiliency is knowing that there’s an adult who believes in them, and the adult does not have to be a biological parent. And for women who are raising a child without a father figure, you can provide the love and attention that your child needs, especially if you have a “village” for support and resources.

By Rona Renner, RN. For information and inspiration, go to http://www.childhoodmatters.org and tune into “Childhood Matters,” on Sundays at 7am on 98.1 Kiss FM or listen anytime on line. Also, join us on Facebook and Twitter.