The importance of the father in the lives of children

The mother is commonly referred as the most important person in a child’s development; the kid´s well-being or suffering depends on her, and she must be the one in charge of raising and supporting him.

This idea is not entirely wrong, however, it is not possible for a single woman to conceive a child: the father intervenes to make this possible and he plays a fundamental role not only biologically but also emotionally, psychologically and socially.

There are many types of parents.

In psychoanalysis, when we speak of the father we do not refer to a man, but to a role. Thanks to this function, the child can appropriate his existence, be named, feel recognized, belong to a lineage and insert himself into society respecting the rules of humans.

Also, this function allows the mother to feel supported, accompanied and cared and, then, she can connect more easily with her baby and understand it.

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A present father teams up with the mother so that they both are in charge of a new life, sharing time and responsibilities, mitigating the heavy moments that are present in the upbringing of any child.

Thanks to the father, the baby can learn other ways of being cared, other ways of bonding, playing and knowing the world.

The father is fundamental because he is in charge of making a “gap” between the mother and the child, what does this mean? The father helps the baby be interested in the world beyond the mother; he helps ensure that there is no overprotection, excess of anxiety, so that he does not get stuck with the mother.

So, thanks to this role, the child can feel relaxed knowing that there is someone who sets a limit. This is how father and mother are fundamental.

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However, we still find prejudices, imposed roles or deficiencies that are transmitted from generation to generation and that make us think that the presence of the father is secondary.

It is still common to think that the child is an object that only belongs to the mother. It is not uncommon to think that if a man is not a “good” husband, he will not be a “good” father either. Many mothers think that it is best for children to be away from their fathers. It is common to hear phrases like, “My child’s got me, having his mother is enough for him”…

Some cases

It is true that there are cases in which fathers mistreat and abuse their children; therefore, it is necessary to keep minors away. Also, there are cases in which the father vanishes, and despite the insistence of the mother, he does not want to be present.

However, removing these cases, it is difficult to find reasons why a child should grow up without any contact with his father.

Regardless of the conflicts that may exist in the couple, the father-child relationship is apart and it is very important to support it.

The mother is fundamental in this dynamic, since she is the one who allows or does not allow her child and his father to get closer.

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Thanks to the role played by the father, children can feel calm and eager to grow up with all what this implies: learn, be interested in relating to people beyond the family, investigate, adapt to a society, and build internal limits.

*Claudia Rodríguez Acosta has a degree in Psychology from the Universidad Iberoamericana and a Master’s degree in General Psychotherapy from the Mexican Psychoanalytic Association. She is a teacher in middle and high school, and practices psychoanalytic psychotherapy in privately in Mexico City, as well as by Skype for patients who live abroad.

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version