1. Support and respect the mother of your children. PERIOD.
By both mother and father showing respect for each other, children grow up in a secure, nurturing environment. Romance and strengthen your relationship as a couple, keeping channels of communication open. And if not together but parenting together, respect and talk about Mom positively. Children learn from this openness and likewise gain respect for themselves and others.
2. Work together as a team, sharing equally in all childrearing tasks.
Tape or turn off Sportscentre, and get up at night to help look after your child. For a newborn, mom is #1 – we know that. But Dad must work hard to be #2 (above all the other ‘not-Moms’). While you can’t deliver a baby or breastfeed (although we have all tried), you can do EVERYTHING ELSE! You can change diapers, bathe, prepare food, and be actively involved. Don’t keep score of everything you do and what she does. Instead, talk with your partner about your child’s health, safety and development.
3. Spend time with your children. BE PRESENT. REALLY PRESENT.
Read to your child. Play with him or her. Attend your child’s school events, music recitals or sports events. Participate in the school classroom or assist with a field trip. Do an organized activity together such as hockey or gymnastics. Have fun together doing chores around the home and let your child help out in his or her own way. Also, just spend some quiet time together. Children want your involvement in their lives and need you in order to help develop their own sense of confidence. Turn off your blackberry, let the machine pick up that call, and focus on your child, Putting your children first may mean reprioritizing your life. The rewards are great and will last a lifetime for both you and your child.
4. Show love and affection toward your child.
You can love your child, but do they feel love from you? From the way you talk with them, interact with them, and play them, they will know love. Be committed to your child’s emotional well-being. Encourage and teach your child to live a life of integrity with respect for others. Recognize and encourage new skills and abilities. Help establish boundaries, set reasonable limits and discipline in a fair manner. Children need to understand how their behaviour may affect others. This understanding is reflected in a secure, loving and caring relationship with you.
5. Protect your family.
Your child’s health is as much your responsibility as that of your child’s mother. If necessary, childproof the home environment, making secure items that may be potentially dangerous to the child. Teach “street smart” skills and how your child can learn to take care of him/herself if necessary. Enjoy the physical maturation of your child and be aware of your child’s immunization record and visits to the family doctor or dentist. Educate your child to the world outside the home so that he/she is prepared. It’s only YOU between your children and a somewhat toxic culture.
6. Spend time together as a family.
Share a meal together on a daily basis. While eating, listen to your children and encourage them to talk about their day. Provide them with support and advice as to how to cope with various situations they experienced. You may also want to consider visiting friends and relatives as a family. Go bowling, swimming, skating, fishing, etc. together. Attend a community event. Ask your children to help plan a family vacation and let them assist you in organizing it. Help your children develop good judgment relative to the TV by letting them help or choose a video or TV show and watch it together (this is critical). Ideas for family activities are numerous and help a child experience fun with a sense of warmth and security. These feelings will enrich your child’s life as he or she grows.
7. Tell your story.
Your history, the history of your parents and your own family, can be interesting to your child. A young child often feels the world began at his/her birth. By your reflections on your past, you provide your child with the intriguing sense of history and of past generations. You need not tell all the details of your history, but only those which leave your child with the feeling that you too were once a child and you grew up and became an involved father.
8. Promote and encourage your place of work to be father-friendly.
Organize a father’s day event with your colleagues such as a dad’s picnic. Have photographs of your family displayed at work and take along pictures your children have made. If possible, promote a “bring your child to work” day. Schedule in your day planner time to be at home with your child doing homework, attending school or seeing a movie together. Educate your children to your work environment and tell them the importance of work for you and the family. They will better understand when they see you are working for them and to meet the needs of your family.
9. Be an example.
Model to your child manners, honesty and self-discipline. Earn the right to be listened to by your children. Remember, your child is ALWAYS watching you and your interactions with others. Setting a nurturing example, you can promote a feeling of acceptance and respect in your own child.
10. Being an involved father is for life.
Your children will grow up and perhaps eventually will have children of their own. You are raising someone else’s DAD/HUSBAND. Your participation in their lives and those of their children is ongoing. Fatherhood is a lifelong commitment and your relationship with your child is forever. Believe in yourself and your potential to be an active, caring father. Every child deserves a loving, involved father.
SOURCE — Inspired by a great article on the National Father Initiative (www.fatherhood.org)