Fathers play vital role, says leading psychologist

Fathers play an “extraordinarily important role” in the lives of their children, one that is distinctive and different from that of a mother, according to one of Ireland’s leading clinical psychologists.

Dr Maureen Gaffney made the remark on RTE radio 1 while promoting her new book ‘Your One Wild and Precious Life.’

She told Brendan O’Connor of the unique contribution of fathers to parenting, and that a child having both a mother and a father is “gold”.

“Fathers have a huge role to play, particularly now as fathers are much more involved in their children’s lives. Fathers, I have a whole chapter on fathers, however your needs are being met, good bad or indifferent by your mother, what your father does really really really counts. He does it differently, he responds to kids sensitively but in a very different way. I watch fathers with their small kids, on the beach or something, all this kind of horse play that goes on. When you go to your father, with one of your little troubles as a child, they listen but not in the same way as your mother and their response is often to try and cheer you up, to distract you, and to spend time, sort of making you feel better about something else. They play an extraordinarily important role, and I hope every father reads about just how important they are.  And of course, they are doubly important if their wives, their partners, find it difficult to respond to the baby.  They can take up the slack and if you have both parents, of course, at your back like that, it’s gold.”