As a child grows and becomes independent, it’s easy for a father to fall into the trap of thinking that he doesn’t have much to contribute. But a father’s love and encouragement brings a whole different set of values and guidance into the mix. When children are deprived of the male side of a parent relationship, it can be devastating to their self esteem and ability to be open to intimacy in adulthood. Stay involved, no matter what it may take for you to do so or how insignificant you may feel, because you matter—a lot.
1) Give Your Child a Sense of Purpose
There’s nothing worse than moving through life without direction. Work with your kids to help them clarify beliefs and interests. Teach your kids about goal setting, explain the importance of helping others and coach your children on how to successfully accomplish their goals.
2) Help Your Child Develop an Open Mind
Developing an open mind is like cultivating a garden. Being open-minded means being receptive to new ideas and points of view. Teach your children to be receptive to new people and new concepts, so they can formulate their own opinions and make sound decisions.
3) Foster Your Child’s Imagination
When children are young, their imaginations seem to be bursting with inspired thoughts. But sometimes as they get older and are influenced by school and peers, this creative spirit can get stifled. Make sure this never happens to your child by spending time together playing games, drawing, playing music or doing craft projects to foster their creativity. Dads put a different twist on activities, a strength that encourages healthy competition and standing up to barriers.
4) Support Your Child’s Independent Spirit
It’s a difficult concept for some dads to accept, but children need to develop a sense of autonomy in order to mature. With encouragement and guidance you can foster your child’s independent spirit. Allow your child to do things alone and let them make decisions without the fear of criticism. If you ask them to choose, don’t downplay their choices.
5) Show Your Child The Way To an Open Heart
Life’s disappointments can sometimes result in pain and introversion. You can prevent this sense of closure from happening to your child by teaching him or her to work through negative aspects, share feelings with others in the same circumstance (schools generally will have small support groups for kids experiencing family death or divorce), and accept life’s many challenges with grace and dignity.
6) Help Your Child Develop Sound Values
We all want the same things for our children: that they’ll grow up to be honest, thoughtful and decent human beings. Kids look to their fathers for values reinforcement. Speak candidly with your kids about what it means to have good values, and why they matter.
7) Teach Your Child a Sense of Fair Play
In the game of life it’s natural for all of us to win and lose. While it’s great to coach your child on how to play games or sports, it’s equally important to teach him or her the importance of fair play. Remind your child that losing is a life lesson that teaches you to adjust what you do next time, become more focused, and also accept that they and others will be better at certain things; not everyone can excel at everything.
8) Educate Your Child about the Value of Money
Money gives both young people and adults the ability to make decisions. Once your child learns how to count, it’s time to explain the value of money. Help your child understand the difference between “needs” versus “wants” and explain the importance of saving. A great way to teach children about money is by providing a weekly allowance that’s earned for chores around the home.
9) Show Your Child How to Respect the Opposite Sex
Boys and girls need to develop an understanding and respect for the opposite sex. Someday the child you raise will be someone’s husband, wife, mother or father so it’s up to you to set the example by being respectful to your own wife or significant other.
10) Support Your Child’s Sense of Self-Acceptance
Television and film may lead children to believe that some people are perfect and make them feel like they are not. The world seems to emphasize conformity to such an extent that some children wind up having issues with their self esteem. Have a conversation with your child explaining that we’re all different and it’s those very differences that make each of us special.
From this point forward it’s up to you to put your child’s interests first, take an active role in your child’s upbringing and be the best dad possible!