The Fathers Rights Network

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Parenting Info

Fathers are important in the development of children.

"There's an awful lot of cultural belief that fathers are second-class citizens," said Joe Kelly, who founded the national advocacy nonprofit Dads and Daughters. "We're not more important than moms, or less. We're different."

A father's impact and the role he plays are far more important than one might think.

Fathers are cited more than mothers in issues such as psychological maladjustment, substance abuse, depression and behavioral problems, according to research done by Ronald Rohner, director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection in the School of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, and his colleague Robert Veneziano. They also found that a father's love helps prevent the development of these problems and can also contribute to a child's good physical health.

This influence is equally vital for daughters and sons, although how each are affected differs.

When it comes to girls, Dad is clearly the first man in her life.

"A daughter looks to her father, and there she sees the standard of what it means to be a man," Kelly said. "Girls are hammered thousands of times a day with outrageous messages that boil down to 'how you look is more important than how you are.' They think so much is based on whether or not a man notices them.

"I can be the most important force in her life to tell her that is a lie. What I value is what you have to say, what you do, what you think your spunk, your soul, your heart. That's what's important. We can show that about all women," Kelly said.

Girls notice the relationship their father has with their mother - even in families where the father lives outside the home. They see how their father talks about women, how he treats them, and that's her foundation for her future relationships.

The father's job is to show her the way.

"A lot of us don't expect ourselves to be involved parents," Kelly said. "I think it's changing with younger fathers, but it's not changing fast enough. ...We grow up with the idea that we are supposed to be providers. We have too narrow a definition of provider. We reduce it to the wallet. We have to provide time, strength, masculinity."

Hazard counts his father-daughter activities, including camping trips with the group from the YMCA, as among his favorite times. He does not want to forget a moment of the time he's spent with Brittany. He also wants to leave her a legacy, something for her to revisit over the years.

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