Modern society has in many ways made the father unessential to the upbringing of a child. With divorce rates increasing and work hours rising, fathers who find the time to be present in their children’s lives must make the best of their father-child interactions. As a father, you don’t need to dread the act of parenting as a chore, because most parenting skills for fathers are actually skills you already have.
Unlearning What You Think You Know
As Dr. Ronald Levant, psychologist specializing in the male mind, states in “Masculinity Reconstructed,” the fathers of this generation have a lot to unlearn about fathering. What you’ve learned from your own father is most likely not the type of fathering today’s kids need. Fathers from the baby boom generation have been examples of how fathering is more about being outside the home working hard instead of being inside the home taking care of the family. The fathers of the past focused on earning the family income and were rarely emotionally present. Yet according to Levant, this is almost the exact opposite of what a father should be: physically and emotionally present.
Parenting actually begins before you even become a parent -- about nine months before that, to be precise. It may sound illogical, but fatherhood starts during your partner’s pregnancy. Research on how fathers act before their children enter the world has shed light on how supporting your partner through pregnancy can have long-term effects on how you interact with your child, such as giving your child more physical attention and being more responsive to her needs. Moreover, the skills you learn while helping your partner through her pregnancy carry over into raising a child -- skills such as giving encouragement and bond-building.
It would be hard to deny that all fathers are good fathers at least some of the time. But being a good father most of the time is a learned skill. Fathers must make a purposeful decision to be involved in their children’s lives at a daily level. It’s all too easy to let a day slip by, which can turn into a week or a month. Staying up to date on what your child is going through is a challenge, but it can be conquered with some time management and planning. Fathers should consider methods to combine regular activities with parent-child interactions. Family dinners are perfect for this, as everyone needs to eat. Just make sure the dinner conversation stays on track, focusing on what’s going on in your child’s life.
Stay Involved No Matter What
With today’s high divorce rate, families are breaking up more frequently than rock bands. But a parental breakup doesn’t imply a parent-child breakup. Because one of the most important tasks of a father is staying involved in his children’s lives, fathers must find a way to prioritize their relationship with their children over conflicts with ex-lovers. One method is to start treating the family as a business, actually a joint-venture with a less-than-desirable partner. By creating a plan that gives precedence to regular contact with both parents, the father is setting his child up for emotional stability and a happy childhood.
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