After a rather long period in which Western society has witnessed a process of decline of the paternal function and a general crisis of fatherhood, now the figure of the father is at the center of a rediscovery of his fundamental role.
Since the late 1960s, the role of the father and the way of exercising his function in the relationship with the children have both been profoundly modified; paternity has lost relevance to maternity, both on a legal and social level. That the situation is desired or suffered, in fact today the father appears to be the great absentee in everything concerning the healthy development and education of children.
Reflecting on the paternal function and on the crisis that paternity has undergone, on the socio-cultural changes that have occurred and on what will probably happen, on the concrete ways in which the role of the father is embodied today and on the current primacy of the maternal model, is fundamental draw attention to the fact that children, in order to grow in a balanced way, need a father and a mother, two complementary figures who can play a team game, without confusion of roles. The number of children growing up with only half of what they need is increasing. It is likely that they will be only half of what they could be.
Hence the need to strongly reaffirm the importance of the paternal role in our historical and social context and to clarify that it can not only be a “facsimile” of the maternal one, because the exercise of paternity is not to occupy the space that eventually “moves” to the mother, but has its own characteristics. In the psycho-pedagogical field, reference is made to the existence of two distinct educational codes: the maternal educational code and the paternal educational code. It is not a matter of a masculine or feminine distinction, rather it refers to a different attitude, to two different ways, with which the processes that lead to the growth and development of the personal identity of the children are faced.
The maternal educational code is the one responsible for the treatment, and it concerns the protection of the child, the satisfaction of his needs, his gratification, the complacency. In the first year of life, the prevalence of this type of code is fundamental. The newborn needs to establish a symbiotic relationship with the mother, based on the care and care that is fundamental for the survival and acquisition of some important psychic skills such as attachment and self-esteem. As it grows and develops, the child, especially from the third year of life, also needs to be supported in the process that leads to autonomy. The paternal code is the code that oversees this process. Laying limits, defining rules, stimulating the conquest of life, making responsible: these are typical functions of the paternal role. We must seriously consider the importance and the fundamental role that the father plays in the growth of the child and in the development of his personality.