News & Blogs
June 16 2020

The Impact of a Father on a Child’s Mental Health

A child’s upbringing plays a huge role in what kind of adult he/she turns into. Children who grow up in a healthy family environment will experience positive psychological effects that will reflect well throughout all stages of their life. Unfortunately, not all kids have this privilege due to various complications.
Single mothers must be regarded as heroes for raising their children by themselves, but it is also hard to ignore the impact that a father can have on a child’s mental health. Fathers act as a source of mental nourishment and guidance, so if he is absent during a youngster’s developmental years, the child may manifest behavioral problems over time.
Research shows that father absenteeism can make a child twice as likely to suffer obesity and drop out of school. Keeping outcomes such as these in mind, it’s clear that becoming more involved parents paves the way for positive child growth and keeps issues at bay. To raise them in the best way possible, understanding the roles of a modern-day father should be the first step.
Roles of the Modern-Day Father
In the past, people typically think of fathers as the breadwinner and strong man of the household. But, due to the evolution of social norms, this is no longer the case. Nowadays, the modern-day father can come in many different forms.
Other than losing a father when he passes away, there are also other different reasons why a child may grow up without the presence of one. Regardless of the circumstance, there are many ways men can still be an involved father to their children.
  • Stay-at-home dads or househusbands
Men are always faced with the stigma surrounding masculinity. Fortunately, stay-at-home fathers of today are not afraid to take on nurturing roles that are considered feminine in the past. In the case of househusbands, being affectionate and regularly attending to their children’s needs are the best way to fulfill their role.
  • Non-residential dads
Dads not living in the same house as their children are at high risk of being distant from their kids. Since they are not always physically with them, regularly communicating with their spouses and family members helps them influence their child’s growth and maintain a good relationship.
  • Divorced or separated fathers and stepdads
For divorced or separated dads, maintaining the same familial dynamics can be very challenging. If a child regularly transfers between two households, he/she may get confused as to which rules to follow. In this case, having a healthy relationship with their ex-spouse and agreeing on certain rules help divorced parents raise their children properly.
For stepdads, they may face the challenge of earning their stepchildren’s trust. While they may not be the biological father, giving the child time to adjust eventually allows them to build a valuable relationship.
  • Same sex fathers
In the past, many people have fallen into the false notion that letting a child grow up with two male parents would cause psychological dysfunction. But, with the growing number of families with two dads in society and research finding otherwise, male parents are shown to be just as capable of providing the same supportive environment that heterosexual couples do.
Setting prejudices aside, fathers can adequately raise a child with the right mindset and guidance.

How to Become a More Involved Father
Raising children to become mentally-healthy adults starts by being present in the moment. Regardless of one’s familial setup, there are many different ways fathers can be more involved in their children’s lives.

1. Accept the role of a father and take full responsibility
Fathers are no longer accountable for themselves alone but also for the kind of person their children turn out to be. Recognizing and accepting the duties that come along with paternity is the first step to becoming an excellent father.

2. Spend time with the family
The easiest way to show kids that they are loved is through family time. Whether it is solving a puzzle or watching a movie together, being complete allows family members to establish deeper bonds with one another.

3. Involve the child in your hobbies
Fathers who involve children in their hobbies have an easier time nourishing their relationship.  For example, artist fathers who teach their children how to sketch can establish a common interest. Musician parents who let their kids experience the wonders of music gain an avenue to bond.

4. Show support in their extracurricular activities
When a child develops a particular interest in something, showing support goes a long way for their self-esteem.
For example, if they show passion for a sport, a father who is present during their wins and losses gains the opportunity to guide the kids through emotional moments. In case a child discovers a love for singing, he/she will greatly appreciate the presence of their parents during a recital.

5. Improve your ability to listen
Most children cannot communicate their emotions and needs as well as adults can. With this in mind, parents should make an effort to improve their listening skills. If a parent can read non-verbal cues, it will lead to a significantly improved parent-child dynamic.

6. Have a deeper understanding of your child
It’s no secret that children can sometimes be difficult to understand. While this could get the best of some parents, understand that their brains are still developing. When parents learn how to understand how their children feel or think, it will be easier for them to extend their patience and show their appreciation.

7. Discipline with love and positive guidance
Other than being a source of love and affection, fathers must also know how to take charge of their children's behavior. Parents are also teachers, and knowing how to discipline with love and positive guidance will help a child have a good sense of what is right and wrong.
Once the right amount of discipline is instilled in them, they are less likely to commit harmful acts and will be able to deal with issues such as teenage drug abuse as they age.

8. Respect your partner
Children copy the behavior of their parents. If a child sees that their parents consistently show love, respect, and appreciation to each other, it will be easier for them to maintain that same attitude with others. At the same time, couples who have a healthy relationship give their children a better sense of security within the household.

Embrace the Joys of Fatherhood
There is no perfect recipe in becoming a perfect father, but there are many ways to be a good one. As men embrace the joys of paternity, taking note of the insights provided by this guide can help bring out the best in their children. 
In the unfortunate event that your child is showing signs of mental health issues, you should immediately consult with a psychiatrist for proper diagnosis. If you’re looking for a medical care partner with the right child and adolescent treatment specialties, do know that Makati Medical Center is here for all your health-related needs.

Contact us today to learn more.