The importance of being Dad

By Eugene Clark
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 16, 2013
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 [By Zhai Haijun/]

 [By Zhai Haijun/]

Compared to its counterpart, Mother's Day, Father's Day is not celebrated as much in China, but I think it should be. Of all the titles that I have been privileged and honoured to enjoy in my life, including "Dr," "Professor" and 'Pro Vice-Chancellor', none has been as important and joyful to me as "Dad." I still take note of it whenever my daughters address me and it never loses its special meaning.

There is no question that fathers play an important role in the family. A considerable body of scientific literature points to the fact that children whose fathers are involved in their lives tend to be more advanced linguistically, perform better in school and are better adjusted psychologically. Fathers are important role models for their children. Boys especially benefit greatly from having a male role model. Boys and girls benefit tremendously from the example provided by a loving and caring mother and father. A mother who enjoys a good relationship with her husband is happier and this in turn helps her to be a better mother. No doubt, both parents benefit from being able to share the burdens of raising a family. This is even truer today at a time when fathers are more likely to play an active part in household activities and child rearing.

Parents, and especially fathers, help to equip us for life. Fathers tend to be more outwardly focused and stress task achievement, whereas mothers tend to be more involved with personal relationships and internal development. Perhaps the greatest contribution fathers make is the example they set, rather than the discipline or lectures they provide.

The best fathers play a key role in giving their children two vitally important things: Roots and wings. Roots provide a solid foundation which enables the child to be resilient, feel protected and safe and thus able to focus on exploring the world, learning about whom they are, what their special talents are and what they want to do with their lives. Wings provide a child with the ability to "fly" as high and far as their wings, talents and drive are able to carry them.

Chinese children are especially fortunate in that they not only have mothers and fathers in their lives, but in many cases grandparents as well. In the U.S. there is also a trend for the baby boomer generation who are now grandparents to want to live close by and be actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren. I think this is a very positive development. In my early years (0-7) I was fortunate to live in the same city as my grandparents and the time spent with them remains among my most vivid and nurturing childhood memories.

Fathers are undoubtedly good for children and being a dad is also a great learning experience for a father. The poet William Wordsworth noted that "the child is father of the man." In a very real sense, in being a father I also learned a great deal about myself, about life and the world. Fatherhood provided an invaluable window to my own past through which I was able to gain a better view of my own upbringing, sense of identity and perspective on the present. Being a father also provides one with a valuable "future" perspective. Fathers are concerned about the world that their children will inherit. Fathers want to make and leave a legacy of a better world than they themselves experienced.

So, here's to celebrating Father's Day! My children's birthdays remain two of the happiest days of my life. I am a better person because of my children and very blessed to have them in my life and to be in theirs.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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