The role of a father is constantly changing in our modern world. Read our 9 tips and advice for being an engaged, supportive and loving dad.
What does it mean to be a dad? Today’s families are increasingly more diverse, including single parent families, blended families, same gender parents, unmarried parents, and multi-generational families.
Over the past few decades, societal changes, including the rise in numbers of women working outside the home, escalating divorce rates, remarriages and blended families are causing shifts in both maternal and paternal roles.
Ask a dad today and he will probably tell you that his father-daughter, or father-son relationships differ widely from those he experienced with his own father. Changes in parenting styles have given men more options for responding to obligations as fathers, husbands or partners. Today’s dad is less likely to automatically rely on his own childhood experiences for fatherhood guidance. With the constantly changing roles of dads, what worked well for his father 30 years ago, may not work at all with the complex and varied challenges modern fathers face.
Although this is also true for women becoming mothers, support is often more available for them. It's important to recognise that these changing expectations can mean some fathers now feel significant anxiety about how to be a good dad. These nine simple tips will help you to become – or reaffirm that you already are! - an engaged, supportive and loving father, and of course, they also work for mums!
- Spend Time with Your Child
How you spend your time reveals to your child what is important to you. Children grow up quickly and the time to bond is now. There are plenty of fun ways to spend family time with children.
- Discipline with Love and Positive Parenting
All children need positive guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind children of the consequences of their actions and positively acknowledge desirable behaviour. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.
- Be Your Child’s Role Model
Whether you realise it or not, you are a role model to your child. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys and she learns what to look for in a partners and friends. Fathers teach boys and girls what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility.
- Earn the Right to be Heard
Fathers should begin conversations with their children about important topics when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time for listening to your child’s ideas and problems.
- Be Your Child’s Teacher
Teach your children about right and wrong and encourage them to do their best and make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help children learn the basic lessons of life.
- Eat Together as a Family
An important part of healthy family life is bonding through family meals. Shared meal times give children the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and be involved, and provides a structure for families to be together each day.
- Read to Your Child
In a modern world dominated by television and internet, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children to encourage them to be lifelong readers. Begin reading when they are very young and as they get older, encourage them to read on their own. Instilling a love of reading is one of the best ways to ensure children will have a lifetime of literacy and personal career growth.
- Respect the Other Parent of Your Child
Parents who respect each other and demonstrate mutual respect to their children, provide a secure environment for them. When children see parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected within the father-child relationship.
- Seek Involvement Early
Show interest early by understanding a father’s role during the pregnancy, adoption or surrogacy process. Play, hold and talk to your infant child. When fathers are involved, they send the clear and emphatic message: "I want to be your father. I am interested in you and we have a relationship that is important to me."
Few events change a man’s life as much as becoming a father (or a mother for that matter!). Being entrusted with the responsibility and care of another person is a monumental task, but none is more rewarding than becoming a parent and seeing your child grow gradually into adulthood, having your affection returned in good measure and your child’s self-worth confirmed.
Reading with Your Children: The Knock-On Benefits and How to Make it Enjoyable
Encouraging Your Toddler to Talk
Helping Children Cope with Separated Parents