The role of parents in the lives of children has changed over the past two centuries. Two hundred years ago, mothers cared for children on a daily basis, and parents were the main parenting figure, imparting discipline, teaching, and providing direction on a moral level. In the 19th century, fathers became the primary breadwinner of the family while mothers assumed the role of primary parenting. Today, fathers and mothers are likely to share roles and both are involved in all aspects of raising their children.
Involved parents have a fundamental role in the development of their children. Children whose parents are positively involved in their lives are less aggressive and perform better in school. Parents are more likely to play with their children than mothers, especially when it comes to rough play. In addition, parents give them more freedom to explore their children. All of this helps children learn to be more independent, get along with others and defend themselves.
It has been estimated that 36% of children in the country live apart from their biological father. These children are most likely to live in poverty. More than 65% of children whose mothers never married live below the poverty line. In addition, these children are more likely to be abused, to break the law, to become pregnant during adolescence, to drop out of school, to consume drugs and alcohol, and to engage in crime and violence.
According to the United States National Statistics and Census Bureau, the number of parents staying at home to care for their children is increasing. In 2002, 105,000 married parents of working women stayed at home to care for their families. For 2006, this number increased to 159,000. This number does not include parents with part-time jobs or who are advisors in addition to being the main caretakers of their children. If these men are included, the number of parents staying at home increases to almost two million.
Fathers & Daughters
According to psychologists, daughters need five things from their parents: First, they need comfort when they are sad or disappointed. Parents should listen to their daughters, allow them to express themselves and then respond with empathy. Second, daughters need the guidance of their parents when making important decisions in life. Third, daughters need encouragement in order for their self-esteem to be high. Fourth, daughters need vision to pursue their dreams. Finally, daughters need to be protected from physical, moral, and social dangers.
Fathers & Sons
Parents teach boys to be good parents and husbands. In addition, sons who have affectionate parents have higher cognitive abilities and analytical skills. According to psychologists, sons need their parents to help them develop a plan for their lives and set the example for them. Sons also need their parents to control their behaviour and make them responsible for their actions, and to provide them with moral and spiritual standards. Finally, sons need their parents to show them how to be caring men.
With so many single-parent families in today’s society, sometimes a single parent must play both the role of the father and the mother, but in the case where the two are present, each one usually takes responsibilities that are crucial for the development of the children. Although each family is different, many parents in different cultures share duties when it comes to being parents.
One of the roles parents often take is to be the provider of the family earning income. If the mother does not work, it is only up to the father to be the provider for the family to have basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. However, as a provider and with the income obtained, the parent will also save for things like childcare, health care and insurance.
The role most associated with the mother is to be the educator. This means looking after the emotional well-being of the child and teaching him the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Mothers often give affection and guidance, and observe the children’s mood and behaviour so that, in case there is a problem, the father can detect it and help solve it. Although parents can also educate and provide help to their children, mothers often spend more time with their children, allowing them to identify changes as children grow and give them the love and counsel they need. In many families, the roles of mother and father are interchangeable, and as long as the child is healthy and happy, either parent can take the role for the child’s development.
Kingsley Felix is a Blogger and Webmaster for Healthable, An Award-Winning Health and Wellness blog in Nigeria.