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While a mother’s role in the upbringing of their child is undisputed, the father has culturally and traditionally, been relegated to the role of breadwinner and not much else. The concept of the “hands-on” dad is, however, on the rise and not without reason! It is known that the impact of the father has far-reaching consequences on the social and intellectual well-being of their children.
Qualities of a Good Father
Below are some of the qualities that every father has:
1. Always protects his family: First and foremost, a father is the guardian of his family. This does not simply mean protection against immediate danger, but also of social and economic ruin. Having to take multiple jobs, plan long-term finances and budget for every month may not seem glamorous, but this capacity for personal sacrifice is the hallmark of a good father.
2. Is a disciplinarian: No child is born with a flawless personality. A pampered child will grow to feel entitled to behave without consideration for others. Disciplining your child isn’t about inflicting corporeal punishment but about helping the child to see why their actions are unacceptable.
3. Gives his children room to grow: Experience is the best teacher! Making mistakes is a part of growing up. A father who recognizes this knows not to bound and confine their child’s existence physically and mentally.
4. Open-mindedness: We’ve all experienced, in some way or other, the awkwardness of the generational gap. Most of our parents grew up in an age where the very concept of smartphones and social media were unimaginable. It is more likely than not that we too as parents will be witness to a sea of change.
5. Teaches his children to appreciate life: A good father helps build an appreciation, in his child, for the everyday comforts they enjoy such as their food, clothes and education. Only a child that doesn’t take their comforts and advantages for granted can truly succeed.
6. Appreciates his children: A good father recognizes that their child has their own personality and that his role is to nurture the person their child is and not to force a pattern of behaviour on them.
7. Is a good leader: A good father is a good leader! A father who insists on his child helping with house chores, abstain from smoking and drinking and work hard for a better future while doing none of those himself is going to raise disingenuous children.
8. Doesn’t relegate parenting to the mother: A good father supports his co-parent in their responsibilities. This importance placed in partnership parenting begins when the mother is pregnant. Learning to change diapers, bathe the baby and bottle feed it to ease the burden on your wife is an essential part of how to be a good father to a newborn.
9. Values quality time: Bonding with your children over a movie, a picnic, a visit to the zoo or any kind of outing or shared activity is a great way to get to know your kids’ personalities. Keeping this bond strong and avoiding gradual estrangement, especially as your child enters their teens is one of the character traits of a good father.
How To Involve With Your Child At Different Stages Of Their Life
Being there for your kid means different things at different stages of their life. While you would typically be changing diapers and bottle feeding your infant child, the same for your teenage child wouldn’t exactly be ‘typical’.
1. Before Pregnancy
Parenthood should be planned in such a way that avoidable complications and foreseeable adversity do not derail your partner’s, yours or your child’s life.
- Begin eating wholesome, healthy foods. Stock your refrigerator with fresh produce and avoid fast food and foods with high oil content. You and your partner’s health directly affect your future child’s health.
- Avoid behaviours that may affect your sperm quality and motility. This includes substituting boxers for briefs, keeping your cell phone away from your groin area and for hardcore bikers and cyclists (those who ride for more than two hours daily), avoiding strain on your testicles.
- Consult your doctor to know if any current medication you are taking may affect your fertility.
- In certain cases, if you may see it fit, it pays to do a medical screening to identify genetic proclivity toward inherited diseases. While one may not show symptoms of it themselves, they could be a silent carrier.
2. During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a challenging time for a mother, and her partner is her greatest source of support.
- Begin taking more responsibility for the housework, whether it be cooking, cleaning or laundry. Note especially, to take over any chore that requires heavy lifting or physical exertion.
- Watch what you eat; you could have a joint diet plan, together with your partner.
- Learn about what to expect. If there are pregnancy and childbirth classes being provided where you live, make sure to attend it together.
- Accompany your partner to as many pregnancy related doctor’s check-ups as you can.
- The body changes and mood swings of your partner may cause her to feel tired and lonely. Be there for her to talk to. Mutual support will strengthen your marriage.
3. During Initial Days of Your Child
Navigating through the first few days after the birth of your child will be daunting. All the training you received during the pregnancy phase will now have to be put into use. Be sure to start off your new life on the right foot.
- Be prepared. Your first task is to have all the furniture and equipment, such as baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers and baby clothes and blankets ready for when you bring your baby home.
- You will have to take over the dominant role in housework, including cooking and cleaning. This will help your partner get the rest she needs.
- Consider having a relative or friend over, who can help your partner so that she may rest. Too many visitors, however, could stress out the mother and child.
- Be prepared to lose your routine sleep. Changes come fast. You may help to take time off work, if possible.
A toddler is a child between 8 to 36 months old. As the name suggests, they are usually just learning to walk or quite new to it.
- Since the child is no longer dependent on breast milk, the father is now afforded the chance to take care of the baby while mother reintegrates to normal life.
- Be present. Most dads have a hard time with toddlers because they are not engaging. If you are looking after him alone, know that you cannot do it standing up – you should be on the floor with them!
- Most of all; be patient. Being alone with an angry father is horrible for the emotional and social development of a toddler. If no one has said it to you outright, we will right now: your toddler will test and break your patience! Most dads admit it. Give yourself a quick timeout when things seem too much.
5. School Age
Your child begins their foray into public life.
- As your child spends more time away from home, you will begin to fear for their safety. Take adequate measures to ensure their school and transportation are safe. While a certain amount of anxiety is unavoidable, do not let it run your life.
- Train your children to respect others but keep their distance from unfamiliar people. You will also need to decide if your child should have a cell phone at this age. If the situation warrants it, get a basic model.
- Your child is slowly shaping their personality as they grow, whether they are aware of it or not. Encourage them to express their opinions and articulate their feelings. This helps them identify how they feel and enables them to be constructive individuals.
- Always set aside some quality time to spend alone with each of your children alone.
6. Teenage and Beyond
As your child goes through their teen years and into adulthood, the role of the father morphs, with them, into that of a benevolent friend.
- Be Understanding. Teenagers are rebellious, they have their hormones raging, and they need to juggle school and extra-curricular activities. Meanwhile, it is easy for the adult who is paying the bills and coping with work pressure to overlook their children’s difficulties.
- Be their friend while still being their father. Spend quality time together. This could be a hobby you share with them or just general outings. Be curious about their interests and let them teach you about subjects they know more about than you may.
- Teens value their friends quite highly, so respect their relationships. Help them have good friends without prying too much into their lives. Sometimes, it takes a fall to learn.
- Teach your child to manage their money. Give them practical lessons on goal setting and budgeting. An appreciation for the value of money is a quality that is wasted on no one.
How To Be a Good Dad to Your Daughter
The impact of a father’s role in the sociological development of their daughter is increasingly being proved more and more relevant by research. A daughter’s relation to her father affects her impression of her self-worth.
1. How You Treat Your Partner
The way you treat your partner is closely watched by your daughter both actively and passively from a very young age. Treating your partner with respect sets the right precedent that she judges her future relationships by.
2. Setting Gender Rules
Do not deter your daughter from engaging in activities or hobbies that may typically be considered “masculine”. This applies particularly to handy work around the house such as changing light bulbs, minor electrical repairs, plumbing repairs, etc. which are essential skills for everyone.
3. Valuing Herself
Your daughter’s evaluation of her self-worth depends a lot on how you treat her. Do not overly compliment her looks – instead, appreciate the things she works hard on, be it her studies or her hobbies that help her develop her talents. However, there is a distinction between appreciation and the mistake of coddling her and ending up raising her to be pampered and immature.
4. Listen To Her
Nothing shows her that you value her feel like being there to listen to her. A lot of the time, it isn’t required of you to you try and fix her problems but simply that you listen to her. Talking helps her mull out her thoughts and get a new perspective on current issues that she is strong enough to resolve herself.
5. Beware The Big Disconnect
Many fathers find themselves growing distant from their daughters as they enter their teens. Growing up and its effects on their social life may seem an awkward and even taboo issue to bring up. This is a challenge every father will need to ask themselves how they would handle.
How To Be a Good Father To Your Son
Below are some of the tips for being a good dad to your son:
1. Do Not Force Gender Roles
What was considered traditionally “feminine” or “masculine” no longer holds any water. There was a time when cooking and cleaning were “reserved” for the women of the house. In today’s world, where men and women both increasingly have to be competent living alone to support their careers, housework is mundane and unisex! This could also include work like basic sewing, tidying, laundry and even decorating.
2. Talk To Them
Boys are hardly ever encouraged to express feelings; especially by their fathers. This leads to them burying their feelings and creating a tough exterior persona that isn’t comfortable expressing emotions. The presence of a strong older figure in their life can help them find maturity in thought. Being able to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses help one deal with problem-solving constructively where the typical ‘man’ would simply have thought of the same as nothing more than failure.
3. Mistakes Are Part Of Learning
While it is important for your son to cultivate a cautious approach to life, no one that was ever too cautious made any revolutionary changes to the world or even their own lives! Do not be impatient about mistakes. Instead, see them as learning experiences. Being ‘sensible’ lies somewhere between being rash and being overly cautious.
4. Treatment of Women
Your attitude toward and treatment of women goes a long way in determining your son’s outlook too. While it may seem easier to avoid, it is essential that you do talk about sex and inter-personal relationships with your son when he is at the right age. Constantly discuss also societal expectations and attitudes and how it could affect them.
5. Practical Knowledge
Our Indian school system doesn’t teach students about taxes, budgeting, filing for returns or other practical skills such as handy work and basic mechanical skills. While you may not know much about all of these fields, you certainly can help them understand what you do know and also study together, what you don’t. This is also something a shared hobby can be very helpful for.
Different Approaches According To Different Situations
There are many situations where a father’s role is changed due to unavoidable circumstances such as divorce or death of the spouse. Below are a few methods that can be adopted to tackle those situations.
1. Adoptive Fathers
Adopting is a noble act and an altruistic way to help better the world.
- Take care to make time to spend with your children. You do not want to miss out on stages of their life.
- Always make time for yourself to spend with your partner.
- Avoid over thinking. This tip is particularly relevant because as an adoptive father, it is hard to keep from wondering if something you said or did, or any external event could possibly have far-reaching consequences on their psyche.
- Encourage them to talk. A common rule when dealing with younger adoptive kids is to use the words “I wonder why you don’t/do want to ‘x’?”
2. Step Fathers
The initial days (sometimes weeks or even years) of being a stepfather can set the tone for your relationship with your stepchildren.
- Do not push yourself on them. Let them take their time to warm to you.
- Discuss your parenting methodology with your partner. It is essential that you two are on the same page.
- Let the children know that you value their relationship with their biological parents. Do not stand in the way of it.
3. Single Parent
While rewarding, being a single parent is obviously tough.
- Regularise your work schedule. This may mean finding the right job or making arrangements with your employer in order to have enough time in the day to be there for your child.
- Get support. It is perfectly all right to cede that single parenting is tough. Do not hesitate to ask for help from friends or family as long as they are willing. This could include anything from babysitting to helping stock your fridge with ready meals.
- Make time for fun. The grind of daily life can bring on a feeling of isolation and dreariness. Make time for an outdoor activity every weekend. Engaging in family social clubs or group activities in your town or locality is a great option.
- Do not speak condescendingly of your ex-partner with your child. It is important that they have strong female role models in their life, whether this is a teacher, an aunt or a grandmother.
4. Separated Fathers
Separation is hard on everyone involved, especially the kids. But, it still comes with a reason and so, should pave the way for a happier future.
- Stay close to your kids. The presence of a father figure is highly important. Studies show that the more frequent or common a non-resident father’s visits, the healthier and more well adjusted the children are.
- This also means you will be meeting your former partner frequently. You will have to make compromises and deal with common issues peaceably. High conflict levels have a negative impact on the children.
- Higher amounts of child support coincide with better educational attainment and cognitive development of the children. How much you can pay will need to be determined by you. Again, it is of prime importance that your relation, with your former partner, is stable, so that both of you can focus on the children’s well being.
5. Foster Fathers
The selflessness of foster parenting is compounded by the fact that not a lot of young children are prepared to receive help. In the end, foster parenting is all about the kids and not about the parents.
- The phenomenon of ‘Secondary Trauma’ for foster parents is no myth. Over time, and to varying degrees, your child’s trauma will bleed on to you.
- Do not shrink from the prospect of therapy. Therapy can help your child and yourself transition. It will not be a “fix and go” situation but a continuing process; however, the changes it could make to your life is worth it.
- No one is completely equipped to flawlessly handle foster care. Learning and getting better is part of the journey.
A good father can be the difference between their child being a well-adjusted individual in society or an unstable unfortunate wasting away and making poor choices. If a father can believe in his child, that child can believe in themselves and be the best they can be.