The Responsibilities of Fathers

Being responsible may not hold universal appeal because it refers to having obligations, being reliable, being dependable and having duties. Yet for those who are committed to being the best fathers they can be, responsibility is a must. Being responsible requires plenty of dedication, selflessness and patience but when these qualities are employed for the benefit of your child, they invariably become a pleasure; something natural.

Where are you?

The first responsibility of a father is actually being there for your son or daughter. If your relationship with the mother breaks down, it is unlikely that you will be able to fulfil this first responsibility in the fullest sense. Being there at the weekend, or being there on the end of a telephone, is just not the same. Although this is the reality for many millions of people today, this can’t be the ideal. Being a good husband or partner helps to ensure that you have the opportunity to remain a good Dad.

Provider

The second responsibility is to be a provider, though this comment might well provoke gasps of indignation from feminists. But there is nothing doctrinaire or patriarchal about this comment, it just means that this responsibility needs to be undertaken. As the ascendancy of the “house husband” or “new man” heralded so loudly in the 1990’s failed to materialise, the male still tends to occupy the bread winner role. A child needs a stable home and with the cost of living increasing and cheap mortgage deals becoming more difficult to secure, this responsibility may be the most challenging one. Unfortunately, sometimes the responsibilities of a father become mutually exclusive. As one takes on more hours at work, or if one takes on an additional part-time job, so we see our children less. My own child illustrates this dilemma quite well as I often hear, “don’t leave me Daddy” and “you going to work, oh I like pennies!”

Quality Time

The cliche “quality time” is certainly a well worn one, but is still has credence where a fathers responsibilities are concerned. Dedicating time to read with your child, to broaden their vocabulary and play with them is important. As they get older it means showing an interest in what they have chosen to do, to advise them, to support and listen to them. Simply vegetating in front of the plasma TV is not quality time for your child, no matter what their age. Quality time means making an effort.

Protection

The best way for a father to ensure their children are protected is to ensure they are looked after by someone who loves them at least as much as they do. That person is their mother (in most circumstances), not the preschool with the poor Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) report and it is certainly not the teenage babysitter who can’t wait for you to leave so their boyfriend can come over for an intimate liaison. As a rule of thumb, it is safest to keep young children with one or both of their parents even when it is very inconvenient to do so. Being denied a table at a restaurant, or entry to a guest house or other social venue because your children have accompanied you is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Fathers also have the responsibility to protect their children from predatory types, be they bullies at school or sexual opportunists of any age. Whilst some fathers go to extreme lengths because of their justifiable concern, or paranoia, striking the right balance between liberty and safety is always difficult. A good dialogue between a father and child, especially about the possible consequences of risky behaviour or unsafe environments tends to make more drastic interventions less likely, or at least less frequent.