Fatherhood is a responsibility that begins before the child is even born. As a father you have a responsibility not only to your child, but to your partner. Beginning with prenatal doctor’s visits, and lasting the rest of your life. The rewards of fatherhood are well worth the time and effort; and any dad will attest to that. Here are some tips, starting in pregnancy, to help the dads out there.
-1) Be there
This is the single most important thing a father can do for not only his children, but their mother. Being there doesn’t simply mean cohabitating; it means being available. If you are there when they need you, it establishes trust. When you have their trust, they are more likely to come to you when there’s a serious problem in their lives. If they don’t come to you, it becomes awfully difficult to help them when they run into trouble.
-2) Temper your criticism.
It is easy to criticize someone, but much more difficult to do it in a way that helps that individual make a meaningful change in their life. Believe it or not, your approval means a lot to your kids, and earning it is one of their top priorities in life. As they age they will begin to struggle with your expectations versus their desires, and that’s where your criticism really begins to matter. A good rule to follow in any relationship is to make 80% of your communication with the other person positive, so that the 20% that is critical won’t get automatically shut out by the other person. It works in business and at home, and you will be surprised how much more communication you can get from your children this way.
-3) Spend quality time together
Again, this tip may sound like a no brainer. But you’d be surprised how many people confuse spending time together with merely being in the same room. Watching a football game with your son isn’t enough to be considered quality time. You can sit in a room with a complete stranger and watch a game, there’s no relationship building there. However if you talk to him (and not just about the call the ref just blew) you’ll be able to reconnect. TV usually makes a poor excuse for quality time, so try to engage your children in activities they enjoy. The results may not be immediate, but they will be tangible and significant.
-4) Remember, you don’t have to be their best friend.
This one trips up a lot of dads who truly care about their kids. They adore them and they want to be the child’s best friend in the world. This is a natural, if incorrect conclusion to draw about parenting. After all, a child spends their first decade of life adoring its parents, as long as the parents are involved in its life. However, your job is to be more than a friend to your child, you need to be an authority figure, and authorities sometimes have to do things that those under them don’t agree with. If you’re torn between whether or not your child will like your decisions, odds are you’ve wandered astray from your primary duty as a parent.