Potomac During more than 30 years as a psychiatrist specializing in children and adolescents, Dr. Bruce Pfeffer has witnessed the impact that fathers can have on the lives of their children. He has studied the effect that the presence of a nurturing father can have on a child’s development and has observed the ramifications of the absence of such a relationship.
“I myself am an active father of three children and a grandfather,” said Pfeffer of Potomac-based Pfeffer Psychiatric Associates. “I have seen how important the role of a father is, and I have seen how the role of the father in the family has traditionally not been addressed as much as it needs to be.”
Pfeffer created the Fatherhood Program to support and educate men on their job as parents. “I wanted to address the important role of the father, the conflicts the father might feel about how to use his time and how to balance his professional role with his ability to father and even how to appreciate his role as a father,” he said. “Many fathers did not have positive role models and feel very lost in terms of what fathering means and the importance of it.”
The Fatherhood program includes individual sessions structured to address specific issues facing fathers and support group sessions where insights, ideas and strategies are exchanged.
“The program is designed to help fathers find solutions to particular issues and be positive role models for their children. [It] is designed to teach fathers about child development, help them appreciate their significant role in the family and encourage them to be an active participant in a positive way,” said Dr. Lisa Jager, a psychiatrist with Pfeffer Psychiatric Associates.
Other mental health professionals agree on the notable role of fathers in a child’s development: “The number one thing to remember is that fathers have a significant impact on the lives of their daughters,” said Dr. Lisa Calusic, a psychiatrist at INOVA Behavioral Health Services in Alexandria, Va. “If a father treats his daughter respectfully, he will set the stage for how the daughter treats herself and how she expects to be treated. If a father is emotionally distant and cold, the daughter internalizes ‘This is how the main man in my life treats me and how I should expect to be treated.’”
Pfeffer says the Fatherhood Program includes workshops, lectures and discussion groups. For more information, call 301-983-5103 or visit www.pfefferpsychiatry.com