A child holds a special place in his heart just for his dad. As the dad, you have a strong say in how you will raise your child, what you expose him to and what he learns about life. Don’t just be a passive individual -- be an active participant in your kid’s life. Choose a proactive stance and parenting style that works for you and helps you become a better father.
Your mind may be stuck on work, your upcoming deadline, or your next household project, but your kid needs you in the present. Try to devote at least 15 to 30 minutes of one-on-one time with each child each day. This little block of time is not much, but can mean a lot to him. Let him choose a game or activity to do during this time. Playing catch, tossing a football or tossing a disc back and forth are great choices. Even an age-appropriate video game or television show can work for this. At least, you can get a taste of what he is into these days and if it is appropriate for him.
Parents are key role models for their children, especially during the first years. According to Kids Health, you should model behaviors that you want your child to copy, such as respect, honesty, kindness, friendliness and tolerance. Display healthy habits, such as exercising, reading and appropriate food choices. As a father, you have an important role to play in shaping your child’s world. Show your son how to treat women, compliment people, lose gracefully and encourage teammates. Explain to your daughter that she should respect herself and not allow others, especially boys, to make her feel unloved, ugly or stupid. You may also want to show her how to fix a leaky sink, paint the deck, or change her oil or a tire on her first car.
Don’t just leave the doctor’s appointments, school conferences and sports activities up to Mom -- you can attend these, too. Not only will attending these get you involved, they will also keep you up-to-date on what is happening in your child’s life. If your schedule is tight, try making it to one sports practice a week or every other week. Maybe switch off taking him and a teammate to practice and let the other dad take him on the other weeks. Make it to those school plays and special guest days at school whenever you can. Some days, it may seem like a burden, but once those precious moments are gone, they’re gone forever. You cannot get them back. Enjoy them before they pass forever.
If you want your child to open up to you and come to you with his problems, be approachable and welcoming. You can take the first step and ask him how he is doing. Offer questions that require more than a “Yes” or “No,” such as “How did that big math test go?” Don’t forget compliments, praise, high-fives and pats on the back for accomplishments, extra effort and good choices.
The way you handle stressful situations can shape how your child sees you, how secure he feels at home and how he, in turn, learns to handle stress. Teach him how to walk away in stressful or angering situations to give himself time to calm down. Stay away from name-calling, yelling or physical punishment when you are upset. When you have a disagreement with your spouse, instead of hiding this completely behind closed doors and yelling at each other, you can demonstrate how to effectively solve problems, communicate and compromise in a relatively calm manner.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Role of the Father
- KidsHealth: When Parents Fight
- KidsHealth: How Influential Are We As Parents?
- Department of Education: Fathers Matter! Involving Fathers in Children’s Learning
- Healthy Children Health Radio: Tips for Dads: A Male Pediatricians Best Advice
- Healthy Children Health Radio: Parenting Like a Pro
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