What Makes Dad Indispensable?
by Joseph Cohen, President and co-founder, Empowered Fathers in Action (EFA) Foundation
The influence of outspoken women from the entertainment industry to the corporate world during the past few generations has been a catalyst for a shift in conventional parenting roles.
In an era where it’s common for women to have children outside of marriage and adequately fill the role of breadwinner, dads seem to be dispensable.
While many dynamic women are no longer settling on a man just to have a child, a growing number of scholars and writers have been grappling with the question: are dads dispensable?
“What this view overlooks,” says W. Bradford Wilcox, author of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives, “is a growing body of research suggesting that men bring much more to the parenting enterprise than money, especially today, when many fathers are highly involved in the warp and woof of child rearing.”
Distinctions of a Positive Father-Son Relationship
“In their approach to child rearing,” wrote Mr. Wilcox in The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad – How Fathers Contribute to their Kids’ Lives for The Atlantic, “fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, embrace challenges, and be independent, whereas mothers are more likely to focus on their children’s safety and emotional well being.”
Although safety and emotional well-being are critical for helping a child feel secure and self-confident, attributes such as taking risks, embracing challenges, and being independent must be modeled and nurtured from an early age to help develop a prosperity mindset.
Risk taking is vital for accomplishing new things and the precursor for embracing a new challenge, and personal development would be impossible without surmounting new challenges.
Taking Risks and Accepting Challenges
The combination of feeling self-confident and secure with risk taking empowers children, and according to psychologist Daniel Paquette, “it teaches them to be braver in unfamiliar situations, as well as to stand up for themselves.”
In his review of scholarly research, Mr. Paquette noted that scholars generally find that dads are more likely to have their kids talk to strangers, to overcome obstacles, and even to have their toddlers put out into the deep during swim lessons.
The swim lesson study found that “fathers tend to stand behind their children so the children face their environment, whereas mothers tend to position themselves in front of their children, seeking to establish visual contact with the children.”
In facing their environment children are being taught to welcome and confront new situations, which fosters risk taking and accepting challenges. The more a teenager or young adult is willing to take a risk and accept a challenge, the more independent they will become. Having a sense of independence will foster the desire to build skills and contribute to society.
Developing a prosperity mindset is an awareness that one is capable of providing value to others while making a difference in the world, and is the foundation for someone to enjoy sustainable success over a lifetime.
Sustainable Success is the theme of Christopher Salem’s weekly internet radio show where I was recently interviewed to discuss Write Father, Write Son : A Bond-Building Journey which I co-authored with my son, Jared. We discussed communication, empowerment, leading by example, wellness first, and developing a prosperity mindset from a young age.
Developing a Prosperity Mindset
During the segment on developing a prosperity mindset, I was asked: what were some of the achievements that resulted from helping Jared develop the persistence to overcome rejection?
I replied by reading an excerpt from the book in the form of a letter Jared that wrote to me at age twenty while living in San Diego, CA with a women whom he had met while in college.
2 September 2011
I want to start by thanking you for all of your support.
Whatever I desire to accomplish, you are one step behind me
with a pillow and a set of fireworks; a pillow to soften my fall,
and fireworks to sing me with praise.
I just found out that I won’t be attending Concordia
University this coming semester, as I was not accepted into
the Creative Writing Department. I was a little shocked at
first; I thought I had a pretty wide-ranging portfolio, and I
sure as hell wrote a powerful essay. But for whatever reason,
the constituents at Concordia’s writing program found my
application below par, and I find myself back where I started.
This does not discourage me. In fact, I’m glad I had
the opportunity to apply, to write that essay, and to tweak
and edit my portfolio as best I could. I got accepted into the
Philosophy Department, but that’s not my passion, and I
won’t give up a double major for a degree in Philosophy.
Rejection is a strong part of living in a capitalist society.
Everyone is always trying to be the best, the strongest, the
most successful, and sometimes people fall short. But does
this mean that I’m done writing? Am I going to hang up my
towel and retire my jersey? No. I’m going to keep writing,
keep editing, keep improving and growing. I understand
in myself that I’m capable and worthwhile. My writing
has always been for myself, and no professor sitting in an
armchair a million miles away can take that from me.
I remember not making the Olympic Development team,
year after year, and understanding that I just needed to
practice harder, get stronger, get tougher. I didn’t let rejection
impede me, only fuel me. It all came together when I walked onto
Wheaton College’s soccer team.
A million people will tell you that you can’t do it, but it’s
only that one voice in your head that matters.
Joseph Cohen is a former New York city public school teacher and journalist who recently published Write Father, Write Son : A Bond-Building Journey.