Written by: Selena DiGiovanni
This week, Obama gave his annual State of the Union Address. He carefully presented a plan to help this country grow and change. But one of the most underrated statements which President Obama made was about strong families and the importance of fathers.
“…And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples and do more to encourage fatherhood, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, it’s having the courage to raise one,” said Obama.
We have always known that fathers are important in our children’s lives, but our presidents have never made it a priority to call fathers back to their children. We have never been told by our president that fathers need to form stronger bonds with our children. That is because, until recently, we have not known the true extent of the importance of fathers.
In the past, several studies have been published which acknowledge that living in a strong home as a child leads to stronger lives in general. However, recent studies have gone into more depth, saying that, in order to have a strong foundation, both parents should be present in a child’s day to day life.
While it may seen like a minor difference, having a father in the home makes a tremendous difference to a child’s life. Studies conducted in Sweden have shown that children, both male and female, who have an active relationship with their father are likely to reap the benefits of that relationship. Benefits include fewer behavioral problems, as well as better social relationships with both genders.
“Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical well-being at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16,” said Dr. Anna Sarkadi of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University in Sweden.
In 2011, 27% of children (ages 0-17) in the US were living in one parent households. Of that 27%, approximately 75% of children were living in single mother households. That means that about 20.25% of children in the US are living without a father figure in their life. This number is higher than it has ever been, and in such stressful and tumultuous times, the benefits of having a loving father has never been more important.
While the mere presence of a father is not enough, building a strong relationship between children and their fathers is incredibly simple. Children simply require a loving bond with their father in order to form a lasting relationship. Fathers are strongly encouraged to engage their children emotionally and emotional moments as a time for learning on both sides. What you do in the short term can mean a world of difference for your children.
The men in our nation have been called upon to show courage. If you have the courage, love your children.