A Brief overview
- Parents are children’s first and primary teachers.
- Every parent has a unique way of caring for and interacting with his/her/their child, with mothers and fathers typically interacting with their children in different ways.
- Male family members and father figures serve key roles in the healthy development of children and youth.
- Fathers and father figures can experience barriers in supporting their children, including the myth that there are no barriers.
- Resources are available to support fathers and father figures on their parenting journey.
Parents are children’s first and primary teachers. Every parent has their own way of caring for and interacting with his/her/their child, with mothers and fathers typically interacting with their children in different ways.
Who are fathers and father figures?
Fathers and father figures play an important role in supporting a child’s growth and development across the lifespan. The term “father figure” is sometimes used broadly to describe males who are important in the life of a child. Father figures can include adoptive fathers, foster fathers, loving male relatives, godfathers, uncles, legal guardians, even mentors and older friends.
Research has shown in the early years, fathers support school readiness and the overall well-being of the family.
What are some barriers fathers have to full involvement with their children?
In addition to the many challenges families of children with disabilities face when navigating education and healthcare, there are additional obstacles which may include:
- Complex legal systems that historically demonstrated bias against males.
- Lack of confidence in parenting.
- Conflicts in cultural values that may view caregiving as the role of the mother.
- Systems that may favor or support mothers’ involvement as a priority.
- Overall lack of adequate resources to support fathering.
- Challenges in communication when parents are parenting apart.
The lack of support is often connected to the myth that fathers and father figures are not in need of specialized assistance. When fathers and father figures are seen, supported, and engaged with their children, the child and the whole community benefits. There are many resources available to schools, community organizations, and agencies who are serving or interested in supporting strong fathers and families.