10 Ways to be a Better Dad

1. Respect Your Children’s Mother

In being top patriarch, this one comes first.  One of the best things a father can do for his kids is respect the children’s mother.  If you are married, keep your marriage strong.  If you are not married, still have the heart to respect and support the mother of your children.  When a father and a mother respects each other — married or not — it creates a sense of security in children.  Security is one of the main responsibility of fatherhood, and children will know that they are in a sound, secure environment when parents exercise mutual respect for one another.

2. Spend Time with Your Children

Spend.  Time.  One of the biggest mistakes a father can make is figuring that something else can make up for time spent.  How a father spends his time tells his children what’s important to them.  If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say.  Kids grow up quickly, and life passes by fast.  Missed opportunities are lost forever.  Furthermore, neglect of children today may foster a neglect for parents when they reach adulthood.  So take special care in spending time with your children.  Don’t attempt to substitute the value of time shared with something else.

3. Earn Your Family’s Ear

As the one who is responsible for security, it’s often that the father only speaks when someone is wrong somewhere.  Don’t make the mistake of only talking to your children when they mess up somewhere, start talking to your children now.  Smile.  Joke.  Be silly.  Ask them questions that exercise thinking.  Listen, to your kids.  To be a problem solver you need to lend your ear, first.  Start talking to your children about difficult subjects when they are young so these things will be easier when they are older.  Take the time to listen to their ideas and problems.

4. Be a Teacher and Mentor

Too many fathers think teaching is something someone else is supposed to do.  But a father who has a hand in teaching and mentoring his children, teaching about right and wrong, teaching what’s good and what’s best, will see his children make the best choices.  Become involved.  Maintain a firm presence in learning from day one — this goes for life’s lessons as well as academics.  Involved dads can use everyday as a means to teach and mentor their children.

5. Discipline with Love

Let’s get this one straight — all children need guidance and discipline, but not as punishment, but to set reasonable left or right limits.  Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior.  Understand that if you have to physically discipline your child, you must make time to hold that child soon after so that child fully understands WHY.  Discipline without love or reason becomes baseless abuse.  As far as non-physical discipline goes, do not exaggerate discipline to unreasonable heights.  Fathers who make themselves clear in the balance of discipline and compassion show love for their children.

6. Eat Together as a Family

Sharing a meal together can be an important part of a healthy family life.  In addition to providing some structure to localized, in-house tradition, it gives kids (and mom!) a chance to talk about what’s on their minds that day and what they want to do next.  It’s also a good time for a father to listen and give free advice.  Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day in a soul nourishing moment.

7. Accept, Appreciate, Approve

As a father, know that the best fathers understand that there is an essential hunger inside of everyone to be accepted, appreciated and approved of.  Tethered to providing security overall, it’s your job as a parent to fulfill this special need from day one.  Children need the security that comes with knowing they are accepted, wanted, and loved by their family.  Show affection, and validate your family.  Parents, specifically fathers in this case, need to feel comfortable and willing to hug their children.

8. Read to your Children

Dads have to make a special effort these days to not have videogames, television and the gutters of the internet define their children’s experiences.  Reading to your children give you the change to place your voice into a mode other than your own thought; you become the narrator.  It’s important for dads to promote reading by reading to your children when they are young.  This fosters better communication skills and a mastery of language.  This encourages reading when they are older, and shatters any discomfort learning reading comprehension in school.  Instill a love of reading in your children and you will ensure that they have a lifetime of personal growth.

9. Be a Role Model

Whether you know it or not, fathers ARE role models for their children.  In fact, fathers should be the FIRST male role model a child comes across. Many fathers fail at realizing this; don’t be that guy.  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.  Sons on the other hand, are taught what is important in life by emulating the behavior of dad.  That being said, be sure to demonstrate honesty, humility and responsibility.  Be your child’s hero; become cognizant of the fact that you are Role Model One.

10. Understand that a Father’s Job is Never Done

Even after your baby has grown up and left the house, bracing for adulthood and beyond, know that your role as dad is never-ending.  If you done your job well when they were kids, they will still look to you for wisdom and advice as adults.  Fathers play an essential role in the lives of their children when their children begin to build their own families.  What I am speaking of here is legacy for future generations.

Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud

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