The Father Factor: Critical issues to be considered

Excerpted from ‘A Guide for Fatherhood’ by the National Fatherhood Initiative

by Morris Turner III

Morris Turner’s grandkids Amaya and Marcelo get their annual physical.

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, there are 17 critical issues that should be considered by those working with fathers and, at the same time, issues fathers themselves, should take into consideration as well. In this article, I have covered 10 of these issues, but you can find the others by going to the NFI website, http://wwwfatherhood.org/fatherhood/17.

1) Family of origin: The family someone grows up in is often called a “family of origin” because it is the family in which a person begins his or her life. “A father’s own father is often the most powerful influence in shaping how he fathers his children.”

2) Child development: One of the most important helpful tools for fathers is information about developmental milestones. Fathers need to know that is “normal” and “natural” for children to do certain things at particular stages of their lives. One of the biggest mistakes made by fathers stems from their lack of knowledge about child development. Fathers need to learn about the physical, emotional and social milestones their children should reach by a certain age.

3) Raising boys and raising girls: Are boys or girls more difficult to raise? The answer is neither. Neither boys or girls are more difficult to raise, it’s just that they present different challenges to a father at different stages of their lives.

4) Discipline: Fathers need to know what is appropriate discipline and when to use it. A father must also model self-discipline if he hopes to raise healthy children, to get them to be responsible of their actions, even to be an active child too, not to be one of those kids who sit on the computer all day, or else they would have to see how to get rid of moobs fast. Fathers alone should not be burdened with the role of “disciplinarian,” but rather that role should be shared by both parents equally.

5) Gender communication: It is important for fathers to know that their sons and daughters are wired differently when it comes to how they communicate. It is critical that fathers understand and learn to live with this reality while parenting equally across genders.

6) Healthy parental relationships: For children, the most important relationship in their lives is the one between their mother and father. Whether the parents are married or not, how they get along affects the children every day. Adults are a constant model being observed by their children.

7) Dealing with emotions: If fathers are to raise healthy children, they must first learn that it is “manly” to express one’s emotions and to express them in an appropriate manner.

8) Intimacy: Men need to learn that intimacy doesn’t just mean a sexual relationship. They need to know that it can also include friendship, spiritual and confidential relationships.

9) Balancing work and time with children: One of the primary challenges fathers face is balancing being an involved, responsible parent with the reality of needing to make a living. Sometimes work responsibilities can be a real barrier to fathers being the best dads they can be.

10) Willingness to grow and change: A rigid father is a father who will be distant from his children. A father must be willing to learn, sometimes from his children, and acknowledge when they are correct in what they are saying. Just because we are older, doesn’t mean we know “everything.” As a matter of fact, in this fast-paced world of technology, things are changing so rapidly, our children are often our best teachers.

I hope that fathers find the information from this website helpful and I look forward to your feedback and questions.

Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 43 and 39, was a community worker with the Black Panther Party. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net.