Why are fathers so important?

Why are fathers so important?

By Miranda Lightstone

Here’s the thing: Mothers take center stage when it comes to childbirth and rearing a baby. And while that’s physiologically OK, socially and emotionally, it’s not.
Fathers play just as large a roll in a new baby’s life as mothers. And before you shake your head and disagree with me, consider this:

It Takes Two

I know, I know; how high school of me. But listen: It really does take two to make a baby, and the fact of the matter is that little being that just emerged from your body (via C-Section or natural childbirth) came from both of you. Both of your DNA is contained in that tiny, pink, writhing, crying little creature. So embrace it. Know that you BOTH did that. You each had a hand in putting that human being together, and you both get to celebrate it.

I think one of the things I hated most about being pregnant and approaching the
delivery date was when people asked me what my then-husband was going to get me as a push gift.

Um, what?

Childbirth is a natural process. Animals do it every day and they don’t get diamonds or an iPad or a shopping spree. They get a healthy baby. And they get the next generation.

Is that not enough?

When I was asked what I wanted as a “push gift” I always said: A healthy baby. And I was usually met with jeers and laughs. But, here’s the thing: The baby was going to be a gift for us BOTH.

Fathers Struggle to Feel Needed

Think about it: When the baby first comes into this world he/she needs one thing only: mom. Mom provides food, guidance, and warmth. And now think about how dad must feel. In the animal kingdom, when animals co-parent, the father is generally responsible for providing food and sustenance for the mother and child.

This can be translated to the human world.

When my son was born I breastfed. This is not for everyone and isn’t necessary, but I was able to do it. This is a highly intimate time for mother and baby, and I realize now how excluded dad must have felt. However, he also made it a point to ensure that I had all the sustenance I needed. While I was feeding he would bring me food, water, blankets, etc. He kept himself involved in the process. This was so important.
And both baby and I appreciated him being there, even though he couldn’t help with the actual feeding. 

Fathers and Mothers need to be Equal

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. I also quickly realize that I did not want to take an entire year off work. And for those of you who don’t know, the
year of maternity leave isn’t actually a full year for the mother. The last 4 months (at east in Canada) are considered parental leave. That means either the mother or the father can take them.

Part of my decision to not take those last four months was based on my own selfish career motivations, and the other half was based on the knowledge and
understanding that fathers rarely get that time with their children when they are so young.

So my then-husband and I agreed that he would take the last 4 months at home with our son.

And here’s the thing: It was amazing. Sure, I still played drill sergeant and sent him lists and timelines and routines to follow daily for our little boy. But the bottom line is this: He got to spend 4 months with our newborn baby and bond with him in a way that most fathers don’t. And for that, I am forever grateful, and I believe our son will be too.

On this Father’s Day

So, on this Father’s Day, let’s all remember that a child’s father is just as important an integral to a child’s upbringing as a mother. Fathers are the strength, the wisdom, the funny streak, the play buddy, and the fix-it-all. Fathers are the go-to when things are tough; fathers are the guardians of wisdom and wise words (while mothers hold the kisses and the well-being). Fathers are there to guide and help us grow in a way that mothers just can’t (and that’s not a bad thing).

Mothers tend to get all the glory for the pregnancy and the birth and the
breastfeeding and the overall mothering; but we cannot ignore the good, present
fathers of the world because they make ALL the difference in raising the good,
decent, loving humans in the world today.

So, for all you fathers out there who might feel a little neglected or forgotten as your family and friends fawn over your new baby and mom, remember this: You’re dad. You did this too. You are part of this family. You are SO important. And you will help that little human grow into the incredible person they are meant to be. Teach that little baby pride, courage, understanding, empathy, and hope. Teach them respect and love and acceptance. And teach them about family. Even if it’s a broken family, teach that child that no matter what, you love your parents and your family (a topic for another blog, but so very, very important).

So, here’s to you dads everywhere.

Thank you for all you do,

– Moms everywhere


Photo by Josh Willink