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Fathers: We Impact the Future for Our Sons & Daughters

By Dr. Matt Horne, Elementary School Principal

 

There are many different approaches to being a man in 2024, and many different ways to be a father.  Some of us men follow traditional models of masculinity that we learned, such as endorsing risky behavior and asserting dominance.  Others of us follow more progressive approaches, such as communicating about feelings and promoting equality.  Still others of us learned and live in diverse backgrounds or family structures with unique values of our own.

Recent research confirms the critical influence of fathers on the development of our children: our sons copy the way we portray our own masculinity (1) and healthy relationships with our daughters prevent depression and anxiety while building self-confidence and resilience (2).  

Here are 3 powerful ways we fathers can do our best, together:

 

1 – Educate ourselves and make our role a priority

No father is completely prepared for everything we will face as a parent and there is always more to learn about being the kind of present role model that will best support our children.  I invite you to search on your news app or your social media feed for articles about parenting, being a good father, or healthy masculinity: if you search for those key terms in your apps a few times, the algorithms will pick up on your interest and start feeding you more, similar articles to read and continue growing your skills.

 

2 – Express our feelings and model positive relationships

The research is clear that a father’s love and involvement increase self-esteem, confidence and ability to handle stress while decreasing the risk for depression and anxiety (2).  There are lots of ways to show love, but some of the most powerful include sharing our feelings and dedicating time to things that are important to our children.  Similarly, the way we show love and affection to others serves as the role model for our sons and daughters as they, one day, approach their own romantic relationships (1).  

 

3 – Spend time connecting and talking about important topics

Fathers hold a special power to influence the decisions of our sons and daughters.  By building strong and supportive relationships with our sons and daughters, we can help them make healthy choices and avoid harmful behaviors.  If we make emotional connections with our children and then we are brave enough to talk openly and non-judgmentally with them about issues such as substance abuse, sexual activity, and other risky behaviors, research proves that we have a profoundly positive impact on their future decision making (2).

 

Being a father who is willing to learn and grow is both noble and courageous: ours is a difficult job that requires a unique blend of bravery and humility.  If we rise and accept the challenge of striving to be the best version of ourselves, the rewards will last for generations.  Congratulations on taking up the challenge; let’s lean on each other and remember we’re not alone.  Reach out to me anytime.  Godspeed.

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  (1) Perales, Francisco & Kuskoff, Ella & Flood, Michael & King, Tania. (2023). Like Father, Like Son: Empirical Insights into the Intergenerational Continuity of Masculinity Ideology. Sex Roles. 88. 1-14. 10.1007/s11199-023-01364-y. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/369823128_Like_Father_Like_Son_Empirical_Insights_into_the_Intergenerational_Continuity_of_Masculinity_Ideology

 (2) Mak HW, Fosco GM, Lanza ST. Dynamic Associations of Parent-Adolescent Closeness and Friend Support With Adolescent Depressive Symptoms Across Ages 12-19. J Res Adolesc. 2021 Jun;31(2):299-316. doi: 10.1111/jora.12597. Epub 2020 Nov 26. PMID: 33241902; PMCID: PMC8127347. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8127347/

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