Focus on the Family

Fatherhood

by Traci Gray

Before the industrial revolution, fathers often worked side by side with their sons and instructed their children in spiritual values. When industrialization took over the American landscape, fathers left their farms and headed to the factories. Fourteen- to 16-hour workdays set the stage for the absentee father.

Eventually, fathers came to be regarded as merely breadwinners who fulfilled their paternal duties by providing.

But is that image changing again?

Research shows that tweens and teens need the firm leadership a father provides. A child performs better in school if his father takes an interest in his education. Children have more confidence when their fathers spend time with them and show them affection. Kids learn from watching their fathers' decisions and listening to logical explanations.

Work pressures and other commitments may make it easy for some men to feel they don't have the time. However, a 2002 study found that men born after 1965 spent 50 percent more time per workday with their children than boomer fathers (an average of 3.4 hours, versus 2.2 hours). That same year a workplace survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management discovered that men ranked the need to balance work and home life higher than their female colleagues.

Involved fathers find the time to attend their children's games and recitals. They pull themselves away from the TV to show their children how to change a tire and balance a checkbook. They set firm limits and encourage their kids to do their best — even when they fail.

Take a look at the questions below.

The answers to these questions may reveal what your children desperately long for. Now it's up to you to provide it. It may make your pocketbook a little thinner, but the benefits could be priceless.