By Professor Bruce Robinson
(Director of The Fathering Project)
Kids today are subject to far more destabilising influences than earlier generations – drugs, cyber-bullying and social media pressures to name a few.
At the same time, dads these days have more demands on their time, as they often feel they have to work longer hours and/or travel more to keep their career on track. This means that dads are often absent from home for long periods of time, or distracted by work issues when they are at home, and so most of the parenting falls on mum’s shoulders.
Even if they don’t do it consciously, kids notice this. They want to be accepted and valued by both parents – so if dad isn’t around or never seems to be paying attention, even if mum tries to pick up the slack, they can start to feel unloved. And such feelings can make them fall prey more easily to other people or activities that appear to offer them a sense of worth.
The best way for dads to ensure that their kids are equipped to withstand the outside pressures that can send them off the rails is simply to spend quality time with them – often. Talk to your kids; listen to them; be there for them in whatever they are going through; embrace and nurture their special qualities and tell them they are loved.
Children who feel worthwhile, and who know they are loved unconditionally, are much better equipped to resist peer pressure and make the right decisions on behaviour down the track. The evidence is compelling, the father or father figure has a critical role in guiding a child to adulthood.
So whether you want to or not, as a dad you have a huge influence on your kids. Dads everywhere need to recognise this, and to take the steps necessary to make sure this influence is positive and empowering for their children. We see all around us every day the evidence of what happens if we don’t.
The Father of the Year Award is recognition of the importance of the father. It is a celebration of the positive contributions of fathers, helping to raise awareness of the importance of the role of the father.