The Importance of Being A "Good" Father
As a father, here are things to consider and do to help raise an emotionally and psychologically healthy child.
According to recent research, we know that children whose fathers are highly involved with them in a positive way do better in school, demonstrate better psychological well-being and lower levels of delinquency, and ultimately attain higher levels of education and economic self-sufficiency. Given the importance of fathers spending time with their kids, why is it that while teenagers watch an average of 21 hours of television per week, they spend only 35 minutes per week talking with their fathers?
Unfortunately, many dads either don't, or are afraid to spend one-on-one time with their children. Besides missing out on fun, these dads miss out on bonding time and a chance to establish emotional intimacy with their children.
What Does Being A Good Father Really Mean?
You need to be able to put your child before yourself, be a positive role model, and protect your child from harm, but at the same time allow them to make their own mistakes, and learn from them. The key word here is 'nurture'. Children learn through a variety of ways, however observing the behavior of others is probably the most influential.
As a role model, children learn from their fathers and mothers, and their actions. They emulate the desirable behavior and then discard the undesirable. Therefore knowing yourself, and how others perceive you, is essential when your children are learning from you both directly and indirectly. Your children need to be taught right from wrong and see it demonstrated on a daily basis by their father.
When considering the responsibilities of fathers, it's important to remember that no one is perfect. We are all human and, at times, we do make mistakes. But the important thing to teach is: we can learn by our mistakes and try to avoid making the same mistakes over-and-over again.
Other Characteristics of A Good Father
The environment you grew up in definitely influences how you perceive your role as a father. Some parents try and "fix" problems from their own childhood or present day lives. What can happen is they place unreasonable expectations on their child.
A child's life can be filled with pressures, from kids at school, teachers or coaches, and just day-to-day life. Help your child understand their desires and assess their capabilities and set achievable goals. Encourage them to meet their full potential but avoid living vicariously through them by expecting them to achieve what you had achieved or hoped to have achieved.
Some common perceptions of a father's role are:
- The father provides, financially and emotionally, for his children, and should care for them too.
- The father's role is to discipline along with the mother. Make parenting a partnership, be on the same page about how to discipline your child and be consistent.
- A father should give his children affection and warmth - Don't be afraid to tell your child "I love you, I'm proud of you."
- A father shows support and love through actions as well as words.
Consider your roles and responsibilities as a father. Ask yourself which are most meaningful and pursue them to the best of your ability.
Being a good father is one of the most important and challenging things you can do! Spend time listening and talking with your kids each day.
Last Updated: 18 March 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD