Children need fathers just as much as mothers. Dads are helping out with the kids more than ever. Most dads are willing to take on fathering duties with enthusiasm, but some are reluctant parents due to inexperience and lack of confidence. Here are 10 tips to help dad be amazing.
1. Don't be distracted
Many men are task-oriented and focused by nature. When you're parenting, don't let yourself be distracted by problems at work, household jobs or anything else. Try to focus on your children and their needs; even if it means putting aside your own.
2. Be ready to engage
I encourage my husband to use his drive home from work to relax and change gears, so he is ready to engage with our children when he returns home. They are so excited to see him, and I want him to return the enthusiasm no matter what happened at the office.
3. Share discipline roles
Dad doesn't have to be the bad guy or a pushover. Presenting a united front with your spouse or partner will help your kids realize you are working together for the benefit of the family. Try not to go against your spouse’s discipline methods, but discuss how you will deal with misbehavior together.
4. Unplug and reconnect
Many dads are interested in technology. When you're spending time with your kids, put the phone away and turn the TV off, or find a way to use technology together. My husband's main hobby is watching sports. Sometimes our kids resent the attention he gives his favorite teams. Find a balance and make sure your kids know they are more important than any sporting event, news feed or online game.
5. Be playful
Kids love to be played with, and dads make great playmates. Don't be afraid to sit down at a tea party or run around at the playground. Your children will always remember you playing with them. I have fond memories of rough-housing with my dad, even though we were a house full of girls.
6. Be loving
It may not be in your nature to be overly affectionate, but you can show love in many ways. When my youngest daughter smothers her dad with kisses and hugs, he says thank you and tickles her. Writing notes, sending emails to older children, saying goodnight with a hug and taking time to talk all show your children you care for them.
7. Try new things
Sometimes dads get set in their ways, as do many adults. When your kids want you to do something different, like play a new game or visit a new place, be willing. They will appreciate your good attitude. Chances are, you'll have fun together.
You don't have to have all the right answers or sage advice all the time, just be willing to listen to your children if they want to talk. If you are a good listener from the time they are very little, even when they describe every detail of their new video game or imaginary world, they will come to you as they are older.
9. Mom's biggest fan
Renowned basketball coach John Wooden said, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." When you show love to your children’s mother, you teach them how to treat those they love. You also show that you have a strong relationship and value her. One way my family shows me they love me is by surprising me with a clean house and happy kids when I’ve been out by myself.
10. Have confidence
Your child is 50 percent you, and that makes you a parent. Even if you don’t do things the way their mom does, your ideas and methods are valued. Have confidence in your ability to help, guide and teach your children a variety of things. If there’s something you don’t know how to do, like styling your daughter’s hair or singing bedtime songs —learn.
The love you have for your children qualifies you to be a parent, and the time and effort you spend as a father is important. Use these tips to inspire you to be super dad for your children.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.