Reflections on the role and significance of fathers in relation to emotional development and learning
AbstractFrom the perspective of an educational psychotherapist, whose concern is with the emotional factors and experiences which can affect learning, this article seeks to explore and reflect upon the views and findings concerning the role and importance of fathers which may be linked to learning and educational achievement. The term 'father' is used to describe the parent other than the mother or primary carer and recognises that in modern society this role can be taken by those other than the birth father, but the article is written from the perspective of the traditional relationships which are likely to affect the majority of children about whom we are concerned in our society today. Research linking father involvement and commitment with positive developmental and educational outcomes is the framework within which various aspects of the paternal relationship are explored. The nature of parental relationships, the capacity to cope with challenge and adversity and resolution of the Oedipal stage, are linked to the capacity to explore the outside world and to engage in the educational task. The learning task is seen as the symbolic bridge to the outside world and consequent social inclusion, with fathers at the heart of this engagement. The article thus seeks to promote paternal significance and engagement in all work concerning vulnerable children and young people.