Family Development - A Caregiver's Guide

Just for Dads

Dads play an equal role in the development of their children from conception throughout the child’s life. Boys’ relationships with their dads help them identify who they are and where they come from. Girls’ relationships with their dads help them feel safe and learn about being respected. Below are tips just for dads from the National Fatherhood Initiative.

  1. Respect Your Children’s Mother
    One of the best things a father can do for his children is to respect their mother. If you are married, keep your marriage strong and vital. If you’re not married, it is still important to respect and support the mother of your children. A father and mother who respect each other, and let their children know it, provide a secure environment for them. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected.
  2. Spend Time with Your Children
    How a father spends his time tells his children what’s important to him. If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Kids grow up quickly. Missed opportunities are forever lost.
  3. Earn the Right to Be Heard
    All too often the only time a father speaks to his children is when they have done something wrong. That’s why so many children cringe when their mother says, “Your father wants to talk with you.” Begin talking with your kids when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time and listen to their ideas and problems.
  4. Discipline with Love
    All children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for good behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.
  5. Be a Role Model
    Fathers are role models to their kids whether they realize it or not. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys, and what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility. “All the world’s a stage...” and a father plays one of the most vital roles.
  6. Be a Teacher
    Too many fathers think teaching is something others do. But a father who teaches his children about right and wrong, and encourages them to do their best, will see his children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life.
  7. Eat Together as a Family
    Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch or dinner) can be an important part of healthy family life. In addition to providing some structure in a busy day, it gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and what they want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and offer advice. Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day.
  8. Read to Your Children
    In a world where television often dominates the lives of children, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Children learn best by doing and reading, as well as seeing and hearing. Begin reading to your children when they are very young. When they are older, encourage them to read on their own. Teaching your children the joys of reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of personal and career growth.
  9. Show Affection
    Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted and loved by their family. Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection everyday is the best way to let your children know that you love them.
  10. Realize that a Father’s Job Is Never Done
    Even after children are grown and ready to leave home, they will still look to their fathers for wisdom and advice. Whether it’s continued schooling, a new job or a wedding, fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families.

Resources for Dads: