How to be the best dad you can

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  Published on Wednesday, 27 March 2019

How to be the best dad you can

Library Home  >  Parenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 27 March 2019
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Fatherhood is one of life's most important roles. From the moment a man becomes a dad, he has not just a responsibility to care for his child, but the privilege of loving, supporting and connecting with them as they grow.

Although many dads lead hectic lives, it's crucial that fathers make the time to engage meaningfully with their children.

To help them do this, The Fathering Project is a not-for-profit organisation that inspires and equips dads to be effective fathers. Here we look at what effective fathering means, why it's important, and how dads can be more present and pro-active in their child's life.

What does 'effective fathering' look like

Effective fathering helps to improve child development outcomes, and in practice, it means that a dad:

  • Shows warmth towards their child
  • Is involved in their child's life
  • Believes in their own ability to parent well
  • Can reason with their child
  • Parents well with their partner

Instead of being over-protective, hostile or angry, effective fathers get the balance right in their life, understand how important they are to their child, and set aside the time to connect with their daughter or son one-on-one.

What benefits come with effective fathering?

There are some very good reasons for fathers to build this positive relationship and be the best dad they can be. Whether a child has an effective father or father figureresearch shows that this fathering approach benefits children's health, social, emotional and academic outcomes.

Specifically, the presence of an effective father has been found to:

  • Increase the child's social competence, e.g. their sense of social responsibility, social maturity and life skills
  • Improve their school engagement and performance, e.g. leading to fewer school adjustment problems and better academic progress
  • Enhance their mental health and self-esteem/self-worth
  • Reduce victim and perpetrator bullying rates
  • Improve their health behaviours, e.g. through increased levels of fitness and reduced obesity
  • Reduce the incidence of crime and alcohol/drug abuse
  • Decrease risky sexual behaviour as adolescents

It's not just children who benefit from effective fathering. It's been found that dads who are highly involved with their offspring:

  • Enjoy more positive child-father and teen-father relationships
  • Are more likely to feel self-confident and effective as parents
  • Are more likely to feel satisfied with parenthood and their overall lives
  • Are less likely to feel psychological distress, with some evidence that emotional involvement with their child can ease work-related stress

How can dads connect with their children?

With all these benefits for kids, dads and society as a whole, it's vital that fathers engage and bond with their children.

To do this, The Fathering Project recommends that dads:

  1. Go on 'dad dates' to spend one-on-one time with each child, e.g. three kids equals three dad dates
  2. Practice how to listen to their child, instead of lecturing or preaching
  3. Play one-on-one with each child
  4. Take their child away on a work trip, if possible
  5. Get involved in their child’s school and education, e.g. by doing drop-off / pick-up or attending special events, like award ceremonies or sports days
  6. Regularly tell their daughter that she's beautiful - inside and out
  7. Help their child realise how special they are
  8. Seek help if they're struggling

Dads' Groups are also a great chance for fathers to connect with their child, as well as with other fathers.

At the end of the day, no matter how busy life gets, there is always time to prioritise one's progeny and help them feel loved, listened to, involved and important - now and as they grow into adults themselves.


The Fathering Project
ABC News

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 30 December 2019

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