As Father’s day nears, Sakshi Sharma examines how time spent with the paternal unit can impact the lives of children
While the role of a mother is celebrated and feted in popular culture, that of the father often does not often inspire poetry or prose. However, research does not concur with the idea. A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, New York, reveals that both types of involvement — caregiving versus play and the timing, workday versus non-workday can have an impact on the quality of the early father-child relationship.
Father’s day is the right time to try and get a deeper insight into the relationship between a parent and a child and how it is likely to impact the duo. “There is no other important influence than a parent for a growing child. It’s the comfort, security, affection, attention that you get from your parents that shapes your personality,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare. He further adds that the paternal relationship governs how you feel about yourself, your confidence and self-image. The relationship a child’s parents share between them is also exceptionally important. The core to a child’s personality is reciprocal relationship with his/her parents. On long-term relationship with a child, he says, “It brings positivity and stability in your life. The healthier it is, the better you live.”
Dr Anuneet Sabharwal, a psychiatrist, who runs The Happy Tree, says, “The most important thing in a father-child relationship is the establishment of boundaries and a sense of security in the mindset of the child to differentiate between what is family and what is not.” He lays emphasis on distinction between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. With respect to physical growth and personality of the child, he says, a lot of times when parents are not around, children often indulge in substance abuse, which leads to personality disorders including violence against peers and others. “Males often emulate their fathers as role models. With women, I think it’s different, they end up looking for their father figure in the partners they choose. It translates into what you desire in a relationship. It does affect your perception of what do you want as a partner in a relationship.”
According to Dr Deepak Raheja, psychiatrist, Hope Care, says, “Father is representative of the authority parental figure as he plays a huge role in shaping up the personality of the children. The time spent with the children results in more resilient bond, which lays the foundation of a person who can deal with conflicts later in life with adequate preparedness.” At a time when mental health issues are at their peak, he feels, when children are faced with interpersonal conflict as adults, depending on the foundation that is encrypted in their mind, they find a more resilient, conflict busting mechanism which enables them to lead a more meaningful life.
Laying emphasis on the cycle of life he says, “There is a stage where the child wants to reach out to you and you are not available. And as the cycle of life goes on, there is a stage where you want to reach out to the child and s/he is unavailable. The cycle continues to be dysfunctional.” The time spent with children nurtures and cements the relationship in a manner that the child has trust and ability to rely on the father.
Dr Raheja feels that at a sensitive stage, where the small nuances of life like watching films and taking for meals bolster the confidence and self-esteem of children in a manner that they are able to become more responsible and confident humans later in life. “If the old adage of life is being able to have a positive self image then nothing does it better than the quality and quantity of time spent by the parents with the children, primarily, the father figure.”
Dr. Jitender Nagpal, consultant and head of Pediatrics, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science & Research, says, “In modern times, the relationship of the father with the child is continuously evolving and has emerged as a mutually fulfilling relationship.” He stresses on how the father too grows as a person while interacting and learning with the child. Regarding the long-term benefits, the child looks up to the father in terms of defining the ideal behaviour. When the child is passing through various stages of life, s/he looks up to his father for guidance and setting benchmarks.
So, don’t confine the hugs to this Sunday. Extend the love and time beyond it.