The Immeasurable Value of a Father
By Francesca Mullins
In 2011 it was recorded in the United States Census Bureau that 31% of girls do not have their father in the home (Families and Living Arrangements, 2011). I was lucky enough to be one of those 69% of girls with my father in my home. Much of the parenting focus is centered on moms. But it’s important to recognize the value a dad has in a child’s life. The year the census report came out was my last year at home before I ventured out into the “real world.” It wasn’t until I moved out that I came to understand the full impact of having my dad in my life.
My dad taught me what I could do with my body
“Go honey! Go! Run!” My dad made it to every sporting event of mine that he could. I knew I was a priority to him. And I always heard my dad’s cheering louder than anyone else’s.
He always supported me in my efforts to be active. My dad introduced me to active hobbies such as basketball and volleyball. We would go hiking together and play in the mountains. He taught me what I could do with my body by doing active things with me.
During an interview with Dr. Timothy Rarick, a professor at Brigham Young University, Idaho in Marriage, Family, & Child Development, he councils that a father should “Emphasize health and not body size. Doing this will help her feel secure in her own skin. There is no optimal size, just optimal health!” He goes on to say, “Get involved in her things! Enjoy the time more than the task!” (2016).
My dad taught me to like myself
My dad took the time to walk and talk with me. When I felt like I had been beaten by the “ugly stick,” he would help me see the beauty in myself. He encouraged me to acknowledge the good things about myself: my eyes, my hair, and my fun personality.
A study done at The University of St. Jerome’s College discovered that 31% of girls had a higher self-esteem with a fatherly affirmation and they had a lesser fear of intimacy (Scheffler & Naus, 1999).
In Rarick’s words, “A father has the power to destroy this girl or help her flourish…a father needs to be responsive to her needs.” He continues to say, “It’s really hard to like yourself when the most important people in your life are unresponsive to you” (Rarick, 2016).
Those walks and talks with my dad built a bridge of trust that we still utilize today. Because he did that, I still call my dad just to talk, even 10 years later.
My dad taught me what a healthy relationship looks like
I never saw my dad belittle my mom, hit her, or speak ill of her. She meant everything to him, and that meant everything to me.
My dad taught me that in relationships, it is okay to be different, as long as everyone works together. She grew up in the city; he grew up in the mountains. She loves salads; he loves beef.
I learned what I should look for in a healthy relationship: love, compassion, compromise and respect. Because of his example, it was clear to me what I wanted in a relationship.
My dad isn’t perfect. We did not always agree when I was an adolescent, but I always respected him because of what he taught me.
- My dad assumed his role as a father.
- He complimented me not just on looks but also on my intelligence.
- He was always there for me, cheering me on and encouraging me.
- He loved my mother.
The lessons learned in youth are precious and irreplaceable. This Father’s Day, let’s take the time to remember our dad’s for the positive impact they have had on our lives.
30 Days to a Stronger Child is an amazing tool to help parents educate themselves on how to strengthen their children. There are entire sections dedicated to building self-confidence in children, helping a child understand the purposes of their bodies and more! Build a stronger child. Build a stronger you.
Francesca Mullins works as an intern for Educate and Empower Kids. She will receive her bachelor’s degree in child development with a minor in psychology from Brigham Young University – Idaho in December of 2016. She has worked with children in many capacities: as a preschool teacher and a youth camp counselor. She was raised in Utah for the majority of her life, except for the year she spent in Europe as a teenager with her family. She currently lives in Texas with her husband.
Amato, P. R. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1269-1287.
Families and Living Arrangements. (2011). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2011.html
Rarick, T. (2016). Personal communication, May 3, 2016.
Scheffler, T. S., & Naus, P. J. (1999). The relationship between fatherly affirmation and a woman’s self-esteem, fear of intimacy, comfort with womanhood and comfort with sexuality. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8(1), 39-45. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.526.6009&rep=rep1&type=pdf