Intellectual & Academic Development
"The most important...work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."-Harold B. LeeContent
OverviewFathers help their children grow intellectually and cognitively by taking an active involvement in their education. Education does not only encompass learning obtained outside the home, such as the school system, but within the home as well. When fathers show positive interest in their children's intellectual development, they are stimulating and enriching their children's creativity and communication skills. "Children with involved fathers generally experience much more success in school than those who come from paternally deprived families. It is important for the father to demonstrate consistent support, interest and encouragement for his young child's day-to-day school-related activities. However, the father can also contribute much to his child's education outside of school." (Biller, 1993, p. 130) He can do this by spending quality time with his children.
StoriesA daughter writes the following, expressing her appreciation for her father spending quality time helping her with her homework:
"When I look at the time he did spend with me, I appreciate mainly the things he taught me. He loved to challenge my understanding and bring new insights to my attention. I remember crying over math homework I didn't understand. He willingly spent hours at my side helping me figure it out. He took an active part in this responsibility. The main thing I appreciate about my father when it comes teaching, is the values he instilled in me. I grew to value education, getting good grades, and working hard to earn my own way. I attribute many of my accomplishments as well as my goals to him. I am grateful for a caring father who emphasized these values to me. I know he has always wanted the best for me and helped me continue in the right direction. Without a positive role model like my father, I often wonder where I would be today."
A father from South Africa shares how he regrets not spending quality time with his children to help stimulate their children's intellectual growth:
"I work seven days a week. It's just the nature of our work. I'm mostly to work. I mean you come home and you're so tired, you're not really in the mood for anything, you know? [My daughter] complains a lot . . . but she's not very happy with my seven day work. So, one day when I'm old it will probably all come back to me. When [my son] was in school, when for the first time he went to primary school, I wasn't there and I really wanted to take him to school myself, you know? His first day at school. I missed out on that. And the times when you as a parent have to go to the class and see how your son is progressing in class, I'm not there. I missed all those things. [My wife] was always the one that went. [She] is always the one that's been there for them. [I] would've liked very much to have been more involved in their schooling . . . And the worst part is when you leave again and they look at you with tears in their eyes. It really grates you. Those things that I went through, it was the worst part of life."
Another father of a special-needs child explains how a missed opportunity became an important turning point:
"[My son] had something like a book and asked me to sit down with him. I didn't have the time. I don't know if it was something he was doing or something he said, but something let me know that was the moment he needed to practice his verbal skills or his interaction skills. I said to myself, ‘I'll never let a moment like that pass again,' and I haven't . . .It has kind of been my stimulus to never let it happen again."
As difficult as it may be, fathers need to give their children room to grow. Those children can learn a great deal by simply living their lives and learning from their own mistakes. One South African father explains this well:
"I think the best teacher in life is things that you learn yourself through life. People can tell you things, but it doesn't really stick in your head, it just goes out by the one ear. You might listen to it, but you must experience it before you realize, look here, this is one point in my life that's wrong now. The decision must come from you. I don't believe that other people must make your decisions. Make your own decisions. Even if you make a mistake, you learn afterwards. As long as you're big enough and a person that has values by telling yourself, "Look, I made a mistake." Admit the mistake. I think the biggest thing in our lives today we must admit our mistakes and then carry on from there."
Although it is reality, unfortunately there are fathers seem not to value education for their children. A young woman who did not receive the needed intellectual encouragement related the following experience, one that made her relationship with her father extremely painful:
"I ventured into the kitchen where my dad was drinking a beer and laughing with his fiance, Vicki. I began to explain to him how I wanted to return to school but how I didn't have any money. He started laughing and cut me off and said, "Bottom line, how much is this going to cost?" His jovial manner put me at ease and I thought for a few moments that I had worried about nothing. I began to talk about tuition and books, then rent and car insurance, and as the list got longer and longer the expression on his face turned from relaxed to almost angry. I explained how I was going to get a job when I got to school and that I would hopefully be able to earn enough money to pay for my basic needs, but that news didn't seem to ease the pressure he was obviously feeling. He angrily asked me how come I felt I was so entitled to his money and if I knew how hard it was to make a living. He wouldn't listen to any of my protests and became increasingly angry to the point where he was yelling at me and he didn't neglect to add a few expletives in the process. He slammed his fist on the table and asked me if I knew how much money he made the previous year. I said "no." His face turned a couple shades of deep red and [told me his salary], and looked at me as if I was supposed to understand right then and there why he didn't want to help me . . . I told him to forget it and went back downstairs to be with my sisters and try to recover from the experience. My dad came down about five minutes later and apologetically explained how much debt he was in and that he would really love to help me but that he could only afford to pay my half of my tuition. I really didn't know what to say. I was grateful yet at the same time I was outraged that a man making [as much as he was] and drove a brand new BMW and played golf everyday all over the country told his only daughter in college that he couldn't afford to give her a couple thousand dollars a year to get a quality education. I was even more incensed that he thought I felt entitled to a free education. I was a hard working student and person, and he had paid for my older sister's education in full and without complaint. I didn't even ask for all of the money I would need, just enough to get by without having to take out loans. My anger was replaced by a hollow feeling in my heart when I realized why I was so hurt. In all of the time that my parents have been divorced all he has given me is money. Money has been the replacement for the lack of love, support, encouragement, and time that he has demonstrated for me. I'm not saying that it has been a good replacement—in fact, it has been a horrible one—but it was for a long time the only one. When I saw that he was taking that away from me, too, I was so upset that my emotions soared beyond rational thinking. It was that day that I gave up all hope that my father would someday become the father I had always wanted him to be."
It is not always easy to obtain what is necessary for a father to put his children through school. They must make sacrifices, especially when it comes to finances. An education, however, can help the children learn lifetime experiences. This South African father explained the importance of gaining an education:
"It's [my son's] decision but we have to guide and assist him. Because education is very important, you know in terms of, from your primary school to your high school, and from your high school to your university. You've got to plan, you've got to think. It takes years because of finances how you're going to do it. I don't have a lot of money. Social work is my life also in South Africa. And those plans for two children. It requires a life long planning to ensure that. To make sure that they, you know, whatever I can do. I cannot secure their life, but as far as possible, make sure that if they ever want to study, that we're there. That is why I said to him the other day, "If you want to study, as long as you want to study and pass, you can do so. I think that the mind is important in life, the mind. I think that education provides that wider scope to be able to cope with life. I think problems will come, there will be many problems that will face us in life. I think the more education, the more one will be able to cope with it. It's part of the progress and satisfaction that the young person will get from life. I do think that you have all the problem issues that all people will face in life and they've got to work it out for themselves. Education is a security."
Creativity is an important part of intellectual development. A father who is encouraging his child to be creative can play a huge role in his overall learning capacity. Biller (1993, p. 107) wrote that "creativity can be viewed as the spice of the intellect. The creative process involves the imaginative joining or associating of ideas, materials or objects never before connected in a similar fashion." The following story comes from a father who encourages and appreciates his son's creativity:
"Schooling is [one of] the most important things that I do to meet my son's needs . . . I think that maybe it's helping him with his schoolwork in English classes. He uses the computer sometimes and I'm helping him with the computer and going through his work with him. He's really a pretty good writer in ninth grade and is quite a nice poet. Some of what I do is talking to him about his schoolwork and his creative work. . . . Recently I have recognized the creativity in him. He thinks of himself as a Michael Jordan [and] he has very creative writing skills."
When children succeed, fathers often feel as though they have succeeded as well. Biller (1993, p. 115) states that "the father's general support and interest seems to be more crucial in the development of the child's confidence and motivation than his direct participation in school-related activities." The following story is told by a South African man who gave this support to his children:
"Seeing their progress in school is very enjoyable. I want him to realize that one day he's going to see to his family, so if he practices his school today, he makes it better for himself tomorrow. When I felt very proud of him was when he . . . told me, "Daddy, it's Certificate's Day today." And I didn't realize that he was gonna get one. And when they called up the standard five, the most improved student of his class, he went up there. They called out his name and then everyone looked at me because they know I'm his dad. And he was [at] school. And the same with the daughter, that same year, she also came home with a certificate for most improved reader of the year . . . Their progress is my progress as well . . . I believe that education comes first from within the house."
ConclusionFatherWork is being involved in the lives of children's intellectual and cognitive development. A father is a teacher. As a teacher trains his students to learn and grow, a father trains his children as well. He serves as their advisor by encouraging thinking and creativity. He is the master of the students in his home, and yet, at the same time, he is a mentor and counselor for them in their times of need. Although books help teachers explain important concepts, children learn most effectively by modeling the behaviors of their teachers. The mannerisms and actions of fathers as teachers will be imprinted on their children's hearts forever. Fathers, you are their teachers. Do not leave your responsibility up to someone else. Those little minds will look up to you and want to be like you; teach them now before it is too late.More metaphors about fathering
Learning and Application ActivitiesPlease complete one of the following: