- Listen to your child. Children need to know that their fathers are genuinely interested in their thoughts, feelings, opinions, daily activities, etc… Show your child you are listening by giving them 100% of your attention during that sharing time. It is important to make eye contact and ask questions about the topic your child is talking about. This shows your child that they have your attention and that you are listening. Dads, start this early and you will be off to a great start to keeping the lines of communication open when your kids are in their teens.
- Spend time with your child. Think about the 1974 folk rock song written by Harry Chapin, “The Cat’s in the Cradle”. This song is about a father who never has time for his son and then his son grows up and never has time for his dad. Show your child that they are important and you can make time for them. The relationship you develop because of quality time will be more rewarding then any financial reward you could imagine.
- Be consistent with your child. Children thrive by having boundaries and consistency. When children know what is expected of them, they have a sense of security. Clear expectations will help build trust and that will strengthen your relationship.
- Exhibit patience with your child. Your child will test you. Take a deep breathe, count to five and try to remember how much love you feel for your child.
- Have fun with your child and laugh. Children have an innate playfulness. Show them yours and enjoy! Having fun, acting silly and finding the humor of a situation helps lessen stress. It also teaches your child the value of laughter.
- Be a teacher by word and example. Children need to be taught integrity, compassion and good values. Think about Rodney Atkins’s country song “I’ve been watching you”. This is about a little boy who is learning by watching what his dad does in certain situations. The little boy picks up on the good and the bad behaviors. So remember dads, your little ones are watching you and learning right and wrong. Try to model the best behavior you can. If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize and show your child that mistakes happen.
- Teach your children good work ethics. It is important to teach the rewards of working hard for something. Dads want the best for their children but sometimes the best is something they earn by themselves.
- Respect your child’s mother and all the women in their lives. Mutual respect between you and your child’s mother is important whether or not the parents are married to each other. How you treat your child’s mother will influence the way your child will treat his/her mother, women in general and it will influence his/her own role when they become parents. So teach your child respect for everyone especially their mother.
- Pitch in around the house and with the responsibilities of your child. If you can, then take an active role in helping with the everyday chores. Cook dinner, do a load of laundry, change a diaper and pick up a few items at the grocery store. Every little bit helps and makes a difference. Children do not come with directions and they can be unpredictable. So learn to go with the flow and help out when you can.
- Express your love to your child. Some men are uncomfortable with showing their children affection and love. But by being affectionate you show your child that you love them and you teach them to be affectionate to others. Say I love you several times a day. Regardless the age of the child, saying “I love you” can only strengthen your bond. You can also show your child that love with hugs, kisses, holding their hand, singing your child a song and by always accepting who they are unconditionally.
A father’s job is never done. Place reasonable expectations on yourself and know that you are doing a great job. Remember dads, you will always be your child’s first hero! Happy Father’s Day!!!
Your Relationship Expert,