Our youngest son is adopted. When told why his birth mother chose our family, one of the things that stuck out most to me was that she pointed at my husband in the picture of our family and said, “I think he will be a great father for my son.”
My husband is an amazing dad. I think he gets the most pleasure and feels most successful when he sees our children succeeding. And I know our children seek him out for advice, support and for a good laugh.
Research has shown how important having a father who is active in a child’s life is. Dr. David Popenoe, a pioneer in the research into fatherhood says, “Fathers are far more important than just ‘second adults in the home.' Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is likely to bring.” (Life without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are indispensable for the Good of Children and Society) Taking the time to nurture the father and child relationship can make all the difference in the life of a child.
Here are 5 tips for strengthening and developing that relationship.
Talk Every Day. Establishing the lines of communication at an early age develops trust between father and child. Even if it is only for a few moments each day, your child will notice that you are taking the time to chat just with him. Ask your child about his day, his highs and lows, his triumphs and his failings. I love that my children feel they can talk with their father about anything.
Share a Common Interest
When you have a hobby or passion you share with your child, it provides an opportunity to spend time together. Recently one of my sons took up golf. Now he and my husband can enjoy time together. When our oldest was young, my husband used to take her fishing. She still speaks fondly of their fishing trips. Having a common bond such as this can help during those tough teen years — when kids don’t think parents know anything.
Be at the Crossroads
We had a wise congregational leader when we were first married who counseled my husband to “be at the crossroads” during our children’s lives. In other words don’t miss those important moments. Attend your child's performances, athletic events and awards ceremonies. Whenever our son performs, he says he can always tell where his dad is sitting because he can hear his laugh (it is rather distinctive). It always makes him feel good knowing his dad is there.
Children need to know when they have done well. Recognize your children for their hard work and effort. Everyone wants to hear good things. Too often as parents you can get caught up in correcting mistakes.
Take the time to share your knowledge with your children. It may be as simple as how to wash a car correctly or how to build something. My father taught my brother how to build things (a skill he learned from his father, a carpenter). This skill has served my brother well over the years. And even now my father will help him with projects around his house.
Dr. Ronald P. Rohner, director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said of his study into the importance of a father’s love, “We hope findings like these will encourage men to become more involved in their children’s care. Then the whole family benefits.” Following these tips can help fathers strengthen their bond with their children.