Men’s Health Week is celebrated each year in throughout June 13-19, leading up to and including Father’s Day on June 19.
There’s no question that parents’ healthy involvement impacts a kid’s well-being. But it’s often motherhood, rather than fatherhood, that dominates parenting studies.
This leaves the question:
“How important are our fathers in a child’s life?”
So far, we know that kids who grow up with a present, engaged dad are less likely to drop out of school or end up in jail than children with absent fathers. When children have close relationships with father figures, they tend to avoid high-risk behaviors, and they’re less likely to have sex at a young age. They’re more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy, stable relationships when they grow up. They also tend to have higher IQ test scores and bear fewer psychological problems throughout their lives.
Father’s Day, celebrated on June 19th, is considered extremely important as it helps acknowledge the contribution of fathers to individual families and societies.
Yet the United States favored culture does not emphasize fathers enough. In the United States, Mother’s Day has been celebrated since President Woodrow Wilson’s administration in 1914, but Father’s Day has been celebrated only since President Richard Nixon’s administration in 1972.
My father is my compass.
Children absorb the moral values which support adult decisions from how they see their fathers engaging in the world. A present dad exhibits pro-social behavior and installs a reliable moral compass in his children.
I am the youngest child in the family. I always knew how to push the limits on rules with my parents, which my older sisters were unable to. Being the youngest child has given me fewer responsibilities and more freedom than my sisters had. I always knew how to get away with more when it came to my dad.
My parent’s marriage wasn’t a happy one, but they both tried their best to remain dedicated parents to me and my sisters, even though they weren’t happy as a couple: they were in a high conflict relationship. It made no sense why they decided to have me in their late forties.
My father never compared me to my sisters as my mother did; he always had a way of making me feel meaningful and was respectful of my differences. I was the “artist” in the family, “the rebel,” and sometimes even the “outcast.”
The truth is that my sisters were often upset because our father provided me with more opportunities, more toys, more vacations, more patience, more “pocket money,” and more understanding concerning my poor math grades than he had given my sisters. Not because he loved me that much more, but because he was nearly 50 years old and had less energy to get upset with trivial things, and he could financially provide my sisters and me with more experiences due to his financial situation becoming stable.
See, before I was born, my father lived in Yugoslavia, and my sisters were born during the Balkan wars. Therefore his options were limited, but he did the best he could, and as soon as he was able to — he moved away. He was determined to provide us with a better life, and he did.
Isn’t that what good fathers do?
I left my father and moved abroad in 2018. This experience has enabled me to see his long-term influence, which came through in the most unexpected ways. I asked myself questions such as:
“What would my father say or/and do in this particular situation?”
He became my compass, helping me choose the right thing. It is his influence and his parenting that helped me become the person that I am. It is my father who taught me to be brave and never to accept mistreatment.
My father taught me that choosing the right words and saying them at the right time is more important than what I want to say. He is the diplomat, the prankster, the most prominent supporter, a good friend, a good opponent (in chess and tennis), the best friend, the confidant, but most of all, the Dad.
He knew when to step back and make me make my own mistakes. He taught me always to leave an excellent lasting impression. The amount of personal growth I’ve achieved in the last years being away from my father has been astonishing.
My father taught me to:
- Honor me and my own needs and wishes.
- To value and cherish me too.
- To agree only when I want to and to disagree with grace.
- To not give much thought to what other people think of me because their opinions don’t define me.
The Bond Between a Father and a Daughter.
I’ve realized that the bond between a father and a daughter is unique.
A girl’s relationship with her father shapes her childhood and determines her behavior. Fathers teach us the importance of family and values that are non-negotiable. It’s fathers who always urge us to lead and not to follow.
Whether it was when I was learning to ski; when I was encouraged to enter tennis competitions; when I won and when I have lost; when I have re-applied for the positions and was rejected; when I wrote my first story; when I lost my mother or when I moved away and when I came back — my father was there to support me.
He was there for me, no matter the time, the distance, or the cost. He has taught me many life lessons. He knows me far more than I can imagine and all that he has ever wished for is that someday I have the wisdom and knowledge to do better and choose better.
He dreams that one day I will become better than he is: fulfilled and happy. He did all he could to provide me with the tools to accomplish that. Moving away from torn-down Yugoslavia was one of the steps my father took to accomplish his goal of making his children more successful in life than himself.
The most significant gift he gave me is to love myself unconditionally and prepare me to be the best version of a parent I can be to myself and my future children.
As Carl Jung said: “Every father is given the opportunity to corrupt his daughter’s nature, and the educator, husband, or psychiatrist then has to face the music. For what has been spoiled by the father can only be made good by a father, just as what has been spoiled by the mother can only be repaired by a mother.”
This disastrous repetition of the family pattern could be described as a psychological original sin. Our parent’s actions can impact the lives of the children and us as adults, condemning our children to repeat their parent’s sins.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama had no father figure in his life and stated: “I didn’t really know my father — he left my mother and me when I was two years old. I had to figure out how to be a man on my own.”
My dad is no saint, he has his flaws and strengths. And I accept him just as he is, the same way he accepts me.
If you are lucky to have a present, caring, devoted father in your life, express your affection on June 19th, Father’s Day.
But if you can, I would urge you to express it every day. Our lives are unpredictable, and those of us who have had the happiness of having a healthy father figure in our lives can always find a few minutes to say:
“I love you for being there for me, Dad.”
To acknowledge the awareness of men’s health week and Father’s day, please support the Men’s Health Month, a non-profit educational organization specifically focused on improving the health and wellbeing of men, boys, and their families.