Study after study demonstrates that fathers play an extremely important role in a child’s well-being and success. Almost any man can father a child, but how they raise and influence their child is the matter in question.
Just recently, on International Day of Families, experts noted that Mongolian couples are marrying at a relatively young age, and warned that these couples face a high risk of negative outcomes, such as domestic violence, alcoholism, and divorce due to unpreparedness.
In an interview with Head of the Family Psychology Center Dr. G.Naranbaatar, one of the top psychologists in Mongolia, the doctor offered advice to help men become better fathers and to improve their interactions with their children.
First of all, can you tell us about the role of parents and their influence on their children?
Men of all age groups come to me for help, and the majority of them tell me that they never got advice on parenting and ways to interact with children from their own parents. Men in their 50s tell me that they feel like they’ve spent more time thinking about earning money, leading a successful career, providing for their children’s needs, and finding a way to buy their children a better phone than thinking about what kind of influence they have on their children or how their children feel when they’re together. These men remember the good memories they have of time with their fathers, instead of what their fathers bought for them.
Children born in the 1990s used to play outside, but now, children surf the internet and spend most of their time on social media. The information they get from the internet is very powerful in both good and bad ways. At a time like this, parents need to talk to their children and teach them right from wrong. Everything is globalizing, so in my opinion, we all should be uniting to improve parenting skills instead of installing into children’s brains that they have to have the latest model of iPhone or drive an expensive car to fit in.
Exchanging a couple of words every now and then would probably not be considered good interaction between fathers and children. How should a father interact with their son or daughter?
Deep conversations are possible only when both sides feel close to one another. The first thing you need to do is build mutual trust. Trust isn’t built immediately – you have to take your time, as if you’re constructing a building. You need to spend a lot of time with your child to build a stronger bond and trust. This doesn’t mean talking to your child while playing with your phone. You need to sit down with them and carefully listen to what they say. There’s an easy way to do this. I have many clients who turn off their television and Wi-Fi during dinner. When talking to your child, instead of telling them to do this and that, it’s better to explain why they shouldn’t do something and give them a different perspective to see from.
It’s not wrong for men to be breadwinners and earn a living for the family. However, there’s the possibility that you will forget about who you’re earning that money for if you neglect your relationship with your family. Every father who is reading this interview should feel grateful to be able to hear their children’s laughter and cries. Many of my older clients tell me that they used to feel like their children constantly interfered with their work, but now, they realize that they were the most important thing in their life. Some say that they want to hear the laughter and noise their children made back then once again, if possible. So, don’t feel like your child is a bother while you’re working. Children are the most wonderful gift you’ll get in life.
…Trust isn’t built immediately – you have to take your time, as if you’re constructing a building. You need to spend a lot of time with your child to build a stronger bond and trust…
What’s a good way to build trust with children?
Instead of teaching it right away, I want to ask the readers, have you ever contemplated ways to build trust with your child? If you’re expecting a baby soon, I advise you to learn to make time for your child from now on. Don’t just tickle your son or daughter for a while and hug them for another few minutes, and then leave them alone. Cherish them and make them feel that they are precious to you.
What do children need to feel from their father?
Let me give you two examples. Britney Spears sang a song based on her life, and in an interview about the song, she said that she used to dress up and show off to her father, asking him if she looked pretty. Her father continued to read the newspaper while telling her that she did, so she wore a different dress and asked the same question, but he ignored her. In the interview, she said that she became mentally distressed because her father never recognized or paid attention to her, and because of that, she decided her life goal was to become a person who was acknowledged by every man. Britney said that her father’s attitude nearly ruined her life.
Next, I’ll talk about a common problem among my male clients born in the early 1980s. Those who grew up with alcoholic fathers told me that they swore to never become an alcoholic when they grew up, as they watched their father abuse their mother. However, they turned into alcoholics because they didn’t have anyone to show them a different life. This is how fathers influence boys. As for girls, they learn what kind of person they should or should not marry, and how much love and respect they deserve from men.
Fathers significantly influence their family. Children will imitate everything you do, so think about how you want to influence your children.
Parents are ordinary people from an adult’s point of view. Do children see their parents differently than adults?
The founder of Sony Corporation wrote that in children’s eyes, fathers are their whole world and people who can do anything. People will see a man as just another ordinary guy, but to his children, he is their entire world. Children picture the world through their father.
A study in Germany showed that the influence of a father on a child is not two, not five, but 50 times greater than the influence of their mother.
I want every man reading this interview to think about whether or not they got any advice about building a family from their parents when they got married, and if not, do they want their child to be as unprepared as they were when they got married. The thing we lack the most in our society is teaching children from an early age how important a family is. Chinggis Khaan used to say that a man must “correct” himself – to develop his abilities – before starting a family and trying to correct the state.
I want to ask men, when was the last time you went to get a haircut? When did you last put on cologne? Are you paying attention to your beauty regime? Then I want to ask, do you read a bedtime story to your child at least once a year? If the answer is no, then you’re paying more attention to your appearance than you are to taking care of your own family.
How can men better prepare to become fathers?
All kinds of workshops and lectures are held to improve family skills. Men need to be active and attend these workshops. There’s nothing stopping them from going to these events. You need to make your own effort for your own family.
…If you want to be a good father, love your children wholeheartedly – don’t be stingy with your love. Moreover, if you don’t forget to punish your child when he or she does something wrong, then don’t forget to compliment them when they do the right thing…
What makes a person a good father?
You need to follow three principles to become a good father. Scolding your child doesn’t make you a bad father, and patting your child on the back doesn’t make you a good father. The first thing you need to do is make time for your family and child. The main reason I’m happy today is thanks to my father. In other words, the way my father treated me as I grew up impacted me the most. The second thing you need to do is to demonstrate what a real man should be like to your child. And last but not least, it’s love: this is the most important out of the three things I said. Love shapes people the most.
If you want to be a good father, love your children wholeheartedly – don’t be stingy with your love. Moreover, if you don’t forget to punish your child when he or she does something wrong, then don’t forget to compliment them when they do the right thing. My father used to tell me that I would become a great person, and his words gave me a lot of encouragement and confidence.
Teen marriages seem to have increased lately. Young people are trying to raise children when they haven’t become proper adults themselves. What do you think about this?
We shouldn’t blame them for what’s already happened, but you must never think of your child as a mistake when they’ve already been born to this world. Becoming a young dad might not have been their choice, but it comes with responsibilities. These young dads need to learn how to interact, communicate with, and educate their child the correct way.
Is it possible for people who grew up with cold or distant fathers to mend their relationships?
Most of the fathers who come to me for help aren’t able to start a conversation or spend time with their children because of their busy work schedule. I’ve seen many fathers weep because it was hard for them to interact with their children. Still, we must never forget that we always have some kind of opportunity. A building isn’t built in a day. It’s the same with relationships. You need to constantly make an effort to improve your relationship with your child.