Influence of Fathers on a Child’s Life


Families are crucial elements that constitute every society. Parents have an ethical and societal obligation of providing for their children (Ronald, 2001). Although a mother and a father have numerous parenting roles to fulfill, studies have established that the father holds a distinguished position a child’s life. Various experts have tried to defend the position of men as the head of their houses and as influential figures in the lives of their children.

Studies have established that most men dream of being like their fathers when they grow up and start a family (Ronald, 2001). Children that have responsible, trustworthy, hardworking, and honest fathers, tend to grow up as morally upright individuals. However, some fathers are quite irresponsible and end up not committing themselves in influencing their children’s development.

Experts argue that cases of fathers neglecting their parental duties are quite common, especially in situations where the child is not biologically theirs (Cook, 2007). Children that have uncommitted fathers tend to lack some crucial life skills such as being responsible. Although mothers can comfortably raise children on their own, it is important to understand that fathers have a huge role to play, as their absence and lack of commitment can easily wreck a child’s life forever.

Role of fathers

According to Dr. David Popenoe, a Professor of sociology at Rutgers University, fathers have a unique impact on a child’s life and ought to be responsible enough in terms of meeting their parental obligations (Pappas, 2013). Mothers and fathers have different parenting styles that are equally important in a child’s life.

He argues that on top of being role models, fathers provide a lot for their children in terms of economic and safety needs. Experts argue that the unique parenting style of fathers helps to give children a different and much wider perspective about life (Pappas, 2013).

Since fathers have more diverse social experiences compared to mothers, their absence can easily wreck a child’s life because they will have limited skills needed in dealing with numerous life challenges. Studies have also established that fathers play a crucial role of instilling discipline and focus in their children lives (Ronald, 2001).

Fathers are perceived as the center of authority in every family, thus children tend to adhere to their rules more than they do with those given by mothers. Fathers have the responsibility of instilling objectivity, ethical values, and responsibility in their children. Psychologists argue that the good relationship and cooperation between both parents helps fathers to have a greater influence on a child’s life (Pappas, 2013).

Mothers are good at giving security to their children when faced with challenges while fathers perform better at making them competitive and independent minded (Ronald, 2001). In recent studies, it has been established that emotional and personality development of a child is highly dependent on the influence of a father compared to that of the mother. This notion is highly emphasized in the three commonly used styles of parenting, namely authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved (Cook, 2007).

The three styles denote different types of fathers and the nature of influence they have towards the development of their children. They represent the varied behavioral patterns that are showcased by fathers towards meeting their parental obligations (Pappas, 2013). Experts argue that the three parenting styles, influences the emotional and psychological development of children differently.

Authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved fathers

The first parenting style is authoritarian, which involves parents who set rules and regulations that their children ought to follow all the time (Lamb, 2010). Fathers that use this style often remind their children of the consequences if they break any of the rules. Authoritarian parenting is also characterized by the inability of children to question their parents’ authority.

Psychologists and parenting experts highly criticize this style of parenting because of it is not productive in terms of building the personality of a child. They argue that parents who use this style fail to explain to their children reasons as they have rules, and their importance (Lamb, 2010).

Authoritarian fathers fail a lot because they do not take into account the feelings of their children when they have to do something they probably feel uncomfortable about. Experts argue that rules and punishments associated with this style of parenting affect the emotional and social development of a child negatively.

Such children do not learn essential skills such as adventure and creativity because they grow with numerous limitations (Cook, 2007). Children also tend to have esteem and confidence issues because their parents demand a lot from them in terms of obedience and discipline. Authoritarian fathers are good at raising obedient and proficient children. However, such children are often less happy and struggle accepting themselves socially (Kyle, 2000).

Permissive fathers have some differences compared to the authoritarian parents. This parenting approach is better because children are granted the freedom to do things without following any rules (David, 2007). Permissive fathers are less strict in terms of punishing their children when they do something wrong. Instead, they believe in the power of having strong communication with their children and constantly talking to them on the need to have self control.

Permissive fathers show the trust they have with their children in regard to making the right decisions and staying out of trouble. Such parents expect the children to pay back the trust by remaining obedient and responsible (David, 2007). This parenting style is characterized by constant communication between parents and their children. Experts argue that permissive parents give their children a chance to be creative, adventurous, and outgoing (Lamb, 2010).

However, the long-term impact that permissive fathers have on their children is generally negative. Children raised by a permissive father often lack self-regulation, general happiness, and good academic grades. They are also likely to get in trouble because their fathers fail to do enough in terms of showing them boundaries and the consequences of doing the wrong (Lamb, 2010).

The other parenting style entails uninvolved parents. This style involves parents who do not contribute anything towards the growth and development of their child. Studies have established that fathers are the most in this category of parents. Uninvolved fathers basically let their children decide the path they wish to take in life without offering any guidance or support (Cook, 2007). The responsibility level of uninvolved fathers is often very low, as there is minimal communication with their children.

The most important contribution that such fathers make towards their children’s lives is offering basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. Mostly, uninvolved parents do not know the people their children socialize with, the content they get from the media and the internet, as well as their dreams (David, 2007). These are the worst kind of fathers that children can ever have.

One of the factors that lead to fathers being uninvolved in their children’s lives is busy work schedules. Work related commitments leave most parents with little time to spend with their children. According to experts, communication between parents and their children is the most crucial aspect for effective growth and development (Shaffer, 2008). Parents need to create time to play with their children, bond with them, and also get to know things happening in the life.

Children tend to feel loved when their parents ask them about their friends, schoolwork, and dreams (Kyle, 2000). Studies have established that children raised by uninvolved fathers tend to perform poorly in most aspect in life because they lack direction, motivation, and a sense of responsibility. Such children suffer from esteem and confidence issues, as well as a general lack of competitiveness (David, 2007).

Impact of fathers with unhealthy habits to their children

Children look up to their parents for guidance and support. Therefore, it is important for parents to ensure that they uphold high standards of morality around their children. Experts argue that children have a tendency of mirroring the behaviors of their parents from a tender age. These include the manner of talking, choice of words, tone, style of communication, as well as good and bad habits (David, 2007). Studies have established that children tend to pick after the habits of their fathers more than those of their mothers.

Many fathers have some of the unhealthiest habits such as smoking and alcoholism (Apple, 2010). Experts argue that fathers with such habits should be responsible enough and keep their children from experiencing them. In a study conducted to establish the manner in which fathers influence habits in their children, many smokers attested to the fact that they picked the habit from their parents (Shaffer, 2008).

However, most of them do not know the effects that smoking can have on their children. Health conditions such as obesity, asthma, and retarded growth in children are highly associated with smoking (Apple, 2010). Children tend to believe that anything done by their parents is good and worth doing.

From a medical perspective, unhealthy habits such as smoking can lead to children having birth complications that influence their life in numerous ways. According to experts, it is unfortunate that cigarette manufacturers only warn smokers against the danger of suffering from cancer, while they ignore the possibility of having children with defects (Kyle, 2000).

Although there is very minimal research available on this health care challenge, experts warn men against excessive smoking. Other unhealthy habits such as alcoholism also have a huge impact on a child. First, alcoholism affects the ability of men to sire healthy children because of conditions such as low sperm count (Apple, 2010).

Secondly, children born in families where the father is an alcoholic often tend to have numerous problems ranging from lack of basic needs and social challenges such as quarrelling parents. A peaceful family is very important for the development of a child. Parents who keep fighting and quarreling because of habits such as smoking and alcoholism often predispose their children to the danger of becoming violent as they grow (Kyle, 2000).

The reason for this is that the children will grow knowing such strategies as being right in regard to solving issues. Children consider their fathers as role models and thus they ought to behave in a manner to denote the right way of doing things. All fathers have an ethical responsibility to teach good behavior to their children by understanding and managing their addictions in the right manner (Apple, 2010).

Influence of fathers on disabled children

Experts describe parenting as a choice that entails numerous sacrifices and a lot of commitment. People that decide to start a family often deliberate on numerous issues in order to ensure that they are both ready for the responsibilities that come with parenthood (Pappas, 2013). One such huge responsibility is raising a child with a disability. Studies have established that there are many children born with performance difficulties as a consequence of physical or mental unfitness (Shaffer, 2008).

Such children require special care throughout their lives or for the most part of their childhood. Studies have established that fathers and mothers have different reactions when their child is diagnosed with any form of disability (Lamb, 2010). They usually show a lot of concern about their future in terms of having a social life and being economically productive.

Fathers often suffer the most effects and take a longer time to accept the situation of a disabled child. Experts argue that the situation is more intense if the parents of a child diagnosed with a disability are separated (Kyle, 2000). Fathers rely a lot on their partners for support when it comes to issues regarding parenting. However, since fathers are considered as the support pillars of a family, they are left with no other option apart from being strong for their partners and children (Pappas, 2013).

Fathers have a hugely pivotal role to play in helping their disabled child to grow with confidence, self belief, and a feeling that they are not different (Ronald, 2001). Fathers should strive to make a disabled child feel loved, treasured, and have a positive attitude towards life (Shaffer, 2008).

Experts argue that fathers with a disabled child often deal with, great pressure because it’s hard for them to allow the feelings of defeat, overcome them at a time when they need to be strong enough to handle the challenge (Lamb, 2010). Studies have established that disabled children are more likely to suffer depression and develop a feeling of self hatred if they have an uninvolved or authoritarian father.

Raising a child with special needs requires both parents to give their input in terms of spending quality time around them and enrolling for therapy sessions. Fathers can influence the life of their disabled children by being more involved in raising them and encouraging them in regard to life issues (Pappas, 2013). Fathers with low income can influence on their child’s life by improving the economic situation of the house so that there is no scarcity of basic needs.

Reports indicate that most of them tend to engage in more income generating activities that keep them away from their child for longer periods. Some of them start working extra hours while others leave home for work sooner than they did before (Ronald, 2001). However, other fathers turn to habits such as alcoholism in order to relieve the stress associated with such a daunting challenge. This often affects the life of such a child in the long run.

Influence of fathers on adolescents

Fathers have a lot of influence on their adolescent children, especially in regard to discipline issues. Studies have established that the behavior of adolescents depends a lot on the level of influence their fathers had from an early age (Raeburn, 2014). Children who had authoritarian fathers tend to have a highly rebellious adolescent years compared to those that had a permissive father.

In addition, children that had an uninvolved father tend to have a difficult adolescent time characterized by an identity crisis, lack of responsibility, and high rebellion (Raeburn, 2014). However, experts believe that fathers can still make a huge impact on their teenage children, regardless of the way they performed during the formative years.

In the contemporary world of social media and television programs with a lot of sexual content, fathers should take the chance of having a positive impact on the lives of their teenage sons and daughters (Raeburn, 2014). Most children start changing when they reach adolescence by being rebellious and trying out on adult stuff such as sex.

Experts believe that teenagers who have fully committed fathers benefit a lot from their teenage years because they have someone to guide them and stop them from engaging in destructive activities (Shaffer, 2008).

Studies have established that children raised by single mothers tend to have a rough adolescence, as their mothers cannot provide the kind of influence and authority that young people at that stage require in order to be responsible (Raeburn, 2014). This is mainly manifested in the success rates among teenagers with committed fathers and those with no fathers in their lives. Fathers help to build a sense of security in their children (Shaffer, 2008).

Parenting challenges faced by fathers

Parenting has its own fair challenges that parents, especially fathers deal with on a regular basis. Everyone in a family looks up to the father for security, guidance, as well as moral and financial support (Philby, 2010). As part of their parenting duties, fathers tend to deal with more pressure from raising their children compared to the mothers. Fathers have more parenting challenges in situations where they are the sole parent.

Although the number of single fathers is much lower compared to that of single mothers, children raised by the latter often grow differently from the rest (Philby, 2010). Children raised by single fathers often lack the motherly love that is very essential for their emotional development. Some of the challenges that single fathers have with their children include lack of enough time for bonding, managing household chores, keeping track of their social life, and regular queries about their mother (Philby, 2010).


Parenting is a lifetime commitment that entails numerous sacrifices from both the mother and the father. Over the years, the role of the father in parenting has been overlooked, as many people believe their role is primarily heading the house and being the provider. There are three major categories of fathers, namely authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved fathers. Children raised by these parents have different characters and often experience numerous challenges due to shortfalls resulting from the parenting style used on them.

Children consider their fathers as role models. Therefore, every father has an obligation to ensure that they guide their children in the right manner and make a positive impact in their lives. Experts believe that lack of commitment and unavailability by fathers towards their children affects their emotional development in a negative way because they can easily develop feelings of self hatred and incapacitation. Fathers are irreplaceable when it comes to raising responsible and confident children.


Apple, L. (2010). Dad’s Unhealthy Habits Can Harm their Future Kids. Web.

Cook, D. C. (2007). Fathers of Influence: Inspiring Stories of Men who made a Difference in their Children and Their World. New Jersey: CENGAGE.

David, P. (2007). Life Without Father. New York: The Free Press.

Kyle, D. P. (2000). Father Need: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child. New York: The Free Press.

Lamb, M. E. (2010). The Role of the Father in Child Development. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Pappas, S. (2013). The Science of Dad: Engaged Fathers Help Kids Flourish. Web.

Philby, C. (2010). Going Solo: Single Fathers Reveal What It’s Like to be a Lone Parent. Web.

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Ronald, P. R. (2001). The importance of father love: History and contemporary evidence. Review of General Psychology, 5(4), 382-405.

Shaffer, D. (2008). Social and Personality Development. New York: Cengage Learning.

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