During the South East Asian Games last year, a total of 1,327 medals were awarded to athletes who outperformed the rest. These medals serve as a form of recognition for their remarkable sporting achievements. However, have we ever considered that fathers should be given their own medals too? Most of them will never be a star athlete, but many deserve to be recognized for their invaluable contribution as life’s first coach.
Sadly, there seems to be a tendency for fathers to be underappreciated as compared to mothers. As a case in point, data from the United States of America shows that spending on Mother's Day has been higher that of Father's Day for the past ten years - an average of 43% more! The same would likely be true in Singapore. Why is this so? Some would say that fathers prefer items that are more expensive which children can't yet afford, or fathers don't treasure gifts as much as mothers do. Whatever the reason, fathers need to know that they are valued. In fact, fathers are irreplaceable.
The Importance of a Father's Role
Though there are exceptions, most traditional Asian fathers seldom display physical or verbal affection to their children. However, they show their love in many different ways, like in the sacrifices they make that go unnoticed. The long hours put in at work in order to support the family; the sleep forsaken in order to send their children to school early in the morning; the times they could have taken a much-needed rest but decided to bring their children to the park. This is not to say that mothers don’t do the same, but for some reason, we sometimes notice these things less when it comes to fathers.
Fathers should also be appreciated for the special role they bring to parenting. The Fathering Project (2013) by the University of Western Australia highlighted close to 90 studies published in the last decade that point to the importance of fathers. Taken together, these studies indicate that fathers contribute uniquely and significantly toward the social, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being of children.
For example, mothers tend to keep their babies calm, whereas fathers tend to get the babies excited and laughing. Fathers' teasing, tickling and wrestling have been shown to teach kids to whine less and be more independent. Fathers also have protective effects on children during the challenging transition into adolescence, and youths who spend more one-on-one time with fathers tend to have higher general self-worth.
Finally, fathers have an important role of leading by example. When a father prioritizes family over work, his children learn that family is important. When he resolves conflict with reason and calmness, his children discover that it is best to do likewise. Most of all, when a father treats his wife and daughters with respect, his son learns how to do the same for the ladies in his life, and his daughter learns the proper way men should treat her.
A Father's Role Never Ends
So fathers, if you ever doubt the importance of your role, don't. Work gives satisfaction and a sense of achievement, but truth be told, you are not indispensable when it comes to your job. Anyone could replace you, and be even better than you at fulfilling your job description. However, once you become a father, you always remain a father; it is a lifetime job, and such a crucial one at that. Gregory Slayton, author and father of four children, says it best, "No other man will ever love your children as much as you do… And no other man is likely to be as committed to helping your kids build a successful future as you are. For them, you are, quite literally, irreplaceable."
Fathers, we appreciate you. May you continue making the difference in our families that only fathers can make!
Copyright © 2015. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.
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