Being a dad is a rollercoaster ride on the best of days. This role comes with a huge learning curve with quite a many bump along the way. It takes a lifetime to become a good dad and yet, by very definition, the best dads are always on the lookout for some handy tips to improve their game.
Definition of a dad
The term ‘dad’ defines a male parental figure who is present and involved in the daily life of a child.
Is there a difference between dad and father?
Although used interchangeably very often, there is a distinct and significant difference between the two terms. Father is a male biological parent who does not necessarily raise the child. Everyone has a father irrespective of his presence or lack thereof in the child’s life.
Dad, on the other hand, is someone who actively participates in the child’s upbringing and feels and acts with a sense of immense responsibility towards the overall wellness of the child.
What is a father’s responsibility?
Childcare was mostly seen as a primary responsibility of a mother while the father’s contribution mainly focused on providing financially for the family. With time the gender roles in raising a child have blurred to a large extent. A recent study linked a father’s increased involvement with childcare to the employment and earnings of the mother. Fathers engaged in taking care of the kids alone and participated in routine care when their wives contributed a larger share of household earnings.
An involved father helps raise a well-rounded individual. Children grow up in a secure atmosphere when fathers actively participate in taking care of their everyday requirements and meet their emotional needs. Here are a few key responsibilities that transform a ‘father’ to a child’s beloved dad.
Show them that they matter
This works wonders both for you and your child. Children tend to listen better to adults they know care about them deeply and are ready to put the child’s interest ahead of their own. Ways to show them you care are as simple as listening to them when they have something to tell you, being patient with them, and spending quality time with them.
Kids may seem vulnerable but trust that they would not break. They are more resilient than we give them credit for and can adhere to some solid ground rules. Do not be afraid to set some hard limits. Bedtimes, TV times, screen times, manners, language are all classic examples of things that need strict vigilance from you.
Children look up to their fathers for guidance. Along with the encouragement, they also expect you to provide them with critical input whether it is their choice of hobbies, leisure activities, school assignments or their habits. It shows that you care and are invested in their development.
Walk the talk
Actions speak louder than words – be the role model you want them to be. You should be able to follow the path that you wish upon them. You cannot expect them to speak softly and be kinder when you yell at them. Show them how it is done, and they will be ready to follow you willingly.
Ensure their security
This cannot be reiterated enough. Fathers are considered primary providers of all materialistic things. Although it is changing, it remains a key responsibility of the father to fulfil their kid’s financial needs.
Teach them to be accountable
Their actions have consequences – this is a key learning for a child, and it is your responsibility as a father to ensure this is driven into their impressionable minds at the earliest. They are accountable for those actions and taking responsibility is something they learn watching how you deal with situations in your daily life.
Parenting advice for dads-to-be
The journey towards becoming a dad begins even before the child is born. This is the preparation phase of fatherhood. Bringing a baby into this world means a drastic change in your lifestyle. You must prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially to welcome your child into the family.
Expectant fathers go through emotional upheaval as intense as the expectant mothers do but are often relegated to a secondary role in the parenting module.
Address your concerns
Your mind must be exploding with doubts and worries about the impending arrival of a tiny human into your midst. Sort them out in your head or better yet list them out on paper – financial concerns, self-doubts about how equipped you are to handle the responsibility, worrying about your partner’s health. Whatever they are, small or big, find out how you can prepare yourself to allay your fears. Know that freaking out is normal.
Communicate with your partner
Share your concerns with your partner; allow them to share theirs. Talk to each other; remember, you are in this together. You may not be alone in having those concerns that are keeping you awake at night. Reassure each other that whatever it maybe you will deal with it together.
Share the responsibilities
The journey of parenthood begins the moment you hear you are pregnant. It can be an exhausting time for your wife who must deal with the physical changes as well as emotional shifts and mood swings. Bear the responsibilities together starting now instead of waiting for the total upheaval to happen before you share the load. Shared responsibilities also improve the quality of the marriage and prepares a loving atmosphere for the baby to thrive in.
Accept the change
Your life as you know it is about to change drastically and there is no escaping this hard truth. The sooner you embrace it, better prepared you will be when the baby arrives. Responsibility of a new baby is sure to put a dampener on your partying, socializing with your friends and family, and the little joys of freedom when you could up and leave your home with just a set of keys and wallet.
Develop a support system
A social network of helpful friends who are willing to assist you when the need arises is good way to prepare for the fatherhood. It could be a friend you could call anytime during the day or especially at nights to vent or a family member you could depend on to babysit so you can finally catch a shut eye.
Prioritize your activities
It is time to rank your favorite activities; you may have to drop a few from the list of things you get to do after the child is born. Time to yourself will be a luxury you may not afford. Gym three times a week would not sound so tempting when you are low on sleep and high on caffeine.
Take it one step at a time
You have nine months to sort it all out. Take it slow and steady and progress one step at a time. You can do it. So many have and so many will continue to become stellar dads to their kids. Nobody had it pat right from the get-go; they all had to invest time and energy into becoming the wonderful dads they are today.
Swap gym for yoga and meditation. You will need to assuage your parasympathetic nerves from time to time. Learn to relax. Drill it into your being so it becomes a muscle memory. Baby screams, you pause a moment take a deep breathe in and exhale before you react.
What should a father do when expecting?
Expecting moms get all the attention while it is assumed that expecting fathers have little to no role to play before the baby arrives. Dads-to-be have an important role to play during the pregnancy phase as well. Listed below are a few things you can do to ease into fatherhood.
Talk to your baby
Babies can hear you and can even recognize your voice in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. So, say hello, coo to your baby, read a story, and sing a tune to your baby-to-be and let your child get used to your voice.
Accompany your pregnant wife to the doctor’s
Be part of the pregnancy journey by visiting the doctor’s clinic for your wife’s regular checkups. You get to hear the baby’s heartbeat. This is a golden opportunity to be supportive an also track the baby’s development and connect with your little one even before you meet.
Learn to how to take care of the baby
Attend the birthing classes with your wife to learn how to change the diapers, feed the baby, and all the tricks and tips to keep your baby healthy and safe. It will not only boost your confidence but also reassure your wife.
Foster healthy habits
The expectant mom must eat healthy, sleep well, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking during the pregnancy. Your support and participation will make a huge difference in how you both approach pregnancy and raising a healthy child. Make those little tweaks if need be to foster a healthy environment at home.
Be present during delivery
Although scary for most expectant dads, this is highly recommended to bond with the mother and the newly born baby. Research shows that moms experience significantly less anxiety and pain when their partners are present during the most difficult and painful phase of pregnancy.
Parenting advice for new dads
Nothing can be as exciting and challenging as becoming a parent for the first time. And absolutely nothing can prepare you enough to meet those challenges either. But try you should. The arrival of the little bundle of joy can evoke conflicting feelings in the first-time dads.
Besides the happiness of welcoming a new member into the family, many men also feel an acute sense of powerlessness over the new circumstance. Anxiety over the loss of personal space and the struggle to balance work and career with the new parenting responsibilities can be overwhelming and soon be your undoing. Here are a few important pointers to ease your first year of fatherhood.
Enjoy your baby’s responses
You have been talking and reading to you baby for months and it is time to enjoy her responses to your voice.
Share the childcare responsibilities
Baby duty comes with an endless list of things to do – diaper changes, feeding, bathing, soothing a crying baby, putting them to sleep, burping after being breastfed, and cooing to your precious little one. Doing all these will lay a strong foundation for your relationship with your child.
Pay careful attention to the baby’s cues
Babies communicate in a language of giggles, frowns, cries, wails, and yells. Watch out for those little cues that tell you what they need. Decoding their codes will come easy once you spend a lot of time with your baby.
Be there from diapering to discipline
From diaper changes, burping to discipline, stay invested and involved with taking care of your baby’s needs. It is the most rewarding experience, and you will know how fruitful in the later years.
Best parenting advice for dads raising young girls
Raising girls is often seen as a woman’s job. Mothers raise daughters while fathers raise sons. This is a huge misconception that often leads to fathers ignoring the daughter’s need for affirmation throughout their lives. Girls need their dads as much as the boys do, if not more.
Young girls need the reassurance that having a dad provides her as she gets ready to face the world on her own. Here are some useful tips for dads to not only recognize but also satisfy your daughter’s inner longing for connection and affirmation.
Listen to her
She is important and so are her thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and dreams. Give her that space and time to express herself. When you value who she is, she gains confidence to be her true self.
Celebrate her strength
She is more than her looks; she is more than the sum of all her skills – this message must be loud and clear, and it should come from you. Focus on her strengths and help her develop them to achieve her goals. Teach her to identify and overcome barriers and become a stronger, smarter, and bolder version of herself.
Be there for her
Nothing matters more for a child than the parent’s presence. Absence, in this case, makes the heart bitter. When she urgently needs you, be there for her. Even if she does not, be there. Knowing you are ready to drop everything to be beside her in her moment of crisis gives her the courage to face the world.
Encourage her to take risks
She looks to you for guidance, affirmation, and encouragement. Gently nudge her towards exploring the scope of her talents. Praise her efforts and give her the confidence to take a few risks and be adventurous. You have her back; she should be fine.
Respect her choices
No one can be right all the time. Learn to respect her decisions. Teach her to say yes to opportunities and no to temptations but also allow her liberty to choose her own path, make her own decisions and be proud of her choices.
Embrace her uniqueness
She is your child, and yet, she can be as different from you as she wants to be. Others may find her to be unusual but as her dad, her actions must make perfect sense to you. When you invest enough time getting to understanding her and her motive, this will come naturally to you.
How dads affect their daughters?
Dads play a significant role in their daughters’ lives. A dad holds the keys to the daughter’s sense of self-worth, identity, and her future relationships. Her choice of a romantic partner largely depends on her equation with her dad and his affirmations or lack thereof in every part of her life. You are her epicenter and when she is in your presence, she tries harder to excel at everything she does.
She gains confidence when you guide her. Your approval even in the form of a slight nod of encouragement means the world to her. She watches you carefully and hangs on to your every word with rapt attention. You influence her entire life, and she gives you an authority she gives no other man – if only you understand how profoundly impactful your presence in her life is to her, you would jump over hoops to be the best dad a girl can ever have.
Daughters who are better able to relate to and identify with their fathers had higher levels of independence, self-esteem, and success. A participating father has a positive influence on the psychological well-being of the child.
How to be the best dad to your son?
A father-son relationship is like no other – it is a bond that transcends time and love. It is instinctive for a son to idolize his dad. For this very reason, it becomes more imperative that dads step up and be an exemplary role model for the man-to-be.
In his lifetime, your boy will encounter several male role models who he may aspire to emulate but remember you can become his ultimate aspiration. Now how you do that in the years he spends with you rests on you and your commitment to the cause. Here are a few valuable tips to be your son’s main superhero.
Love his mother and treat her with respect
Your son is looking to you for guidance on how he relates with the opposite gender and it begins with how you treat his mother – a woman he adores. If love is a far cry because you are either estranged or in a difficult relationship with her, the least you can to is treat his mother with respect. This is a crucial lesson for your son going into adulthood.
Show your vulnerable side
‘Men do not cry’ is a whole lot of hogwash and you do not want your son to grow up believing he needs to be strong all the time. He needs to see you fall, fail, hurt, shed tears, be consoled, and be vulnerable for him to trust he can feel and express all those emotions that society deems unmanly.
Explain the man cave syndrome
Men and women approach problems differently. While women talk through their problems and arrive at a solution, men step away and into their man cave, sulk, brood, work out the solution to their problems inside their heads and then step out and announce it to the family. It can be a bit baffling to the family and especially to your boy who does not get to see the process. Take the time and effort to explain your reasons for withdrawing into your shell and reassure him that it was not about him and that you needed that alone time to arrive at your decision all by yourself.
Show him how to apologize
While it okay to make a mistake, it is not okay to not apologize for it. When he sees you stepping up and being accountable for his actions and behavior, he learns to do the same that he needs to apologize when need be and mean it when he does.
Build a hobby together
Pick a hobby you both can enjoy while spending quality time together. Fishing, restoring an old car or a motorbike, carpentry, building model airplanes – make it just for you two to do together. This is one of the best ways to bond.
Indulge in father-son activities
Hiking, football, and camping are some of the fun activities a father-son duo can take up. It could be a weekly or a monthly thing to look forward to for just the both of you. Better yet, take up knitting if it pleases you both – can be a major stressbuster and you break a few gender stereotypes at the same time.
Cultivate shared interests
Cooking, video games, music, and gardening are a few such interests that gives you enough time to learn what sparks your boy’s interests and stay involved in other spheres of his life too. He is bound to share more of his personal life, likes and dislikes with you when you have common interests and spend quality time together.
Let him into your life
Allow him to be curious about your life away from the family – golf time with friends, your weekly squash lesson, and your fears and concerns. When you allow him into your life, he may not hesitate to let you step into his from time to time even after he has left home to build his career and life.
Parenting tips for single dads
Single parenting is daunting, exhausting, and even on the better days, can be quite frustrating. Parenting was designed to be done by a team of two – when one tires, send the fresh one comes in to address the problems of the kids. But when you find yourself parenting alone either because you are separated, divorced, or widowed, the task doubles and the worries increase several folds.
When you are all they have got, you have no option but to give it your all. It is tough and tiring to be a superman juggling several roles at once, but the following parenting tips can win you a place in their hearts as their superhero.
Set your priorities
Self-assessment is crucial so ask yourself some important questions and be brutally honest with your answers.
- What are your immediate needs?
- What are the secondary set of needs you can ask others for help? Who are these people and are they a good choice?
- What are the personal sacrifices you do not want to make?
- Are you willing to put your kids’ needs ahead of your own?
- How much time in a week do you need for yourself and are you prepared to discuss it with your kids?
Strike a balance
Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a guy and understand how they might affect your child. When a mom is no longer in the picture, you need to fill in for all the warmth, grace, and gentleness of a female presence the children are missing from their lives.
Lead without controlling
A man’s nature instinct is to lead his family. There is a major difference between leading and controlling. Children institutively push boundaries and test your limits. They need structure but a controlling dad can be harmful. You need to stay strong and set a good example for the kids to emulate.
Be responsible for yourself and your family
Your kids depend on you and expect you to provide for them in every sense of the word. This is a huge responsibility and requires your commitment and focus. Take care of yourself the best you can so your children do not need to worry. It is only when you are fit can you take better care of your family.
Just be there for them
It is a difficult ask for someone shouldering everything on their own but being there for them is the single most important thing you can do for your children. Your kids will appreciate your presence more than sympathizing with your excuses.
What are the signs of a bad father?
Maybe you are not cut out to be a dad, but you want to do all you can to try and become one for the sake of your children. Before you learn how to step up and be a dad your kids can rely on, you need to acknowledge all the signs of a bad father so you can work on rectifying them. For a change to happen you must first acknowledge where you are going wrong.
It is a toxic relationship if you consistently dismiss your child’s value and intentionally make them feel unworthy. Learn to respect your kid’s choices and decisions.
Outbursts and violence do not contribute to a loving and secure home environment and is harmful for a child’s mental well-being. Seek therapy to address your anger management issues.
Forgetting important milestones
Children expect their parents to remember every little thing they do and when you constantly forget to remember, acknowledge, and celebrate important milestones like birthdays, they feel ignored and unimportant.
When you live in your own world, you miss out on a golden opportunity to bond with your kids. Children are left confused, sad, and with conflicting emotions when their fathers refuse to invest their time and energy in raising them.
Drinking, drugs, and substance abuse is a toxic environment for a child to grow up in and has a negative impact on their psychological well-being.
The only people in the world children expect unconditional love from are the parents. If you show appreciation only when they conform to your standards, you need to do a serious rethink about parenting.
If your kids on walking on eggshells around you, there is an urgent need for you to understand why they do. Do not use fear to manipulate them.
Acting as though life revolves around you makes the children feel less important. It is time to recognize their needs are far important than yours.
How does becoming a dad change you?
Becoming a dad is lifechanging. Arrival of a baby changes you irrevocably and in a great way. It is a symbiotic relationship wherein you gain as much as your baby does with your active participation in parenting.
The presence of a newborn promotes internal changes both physical and emotional that helps you grow as an individual and a dad. Both parents experience a rise in a hormone called prolactin that induces affection and caring behavior towards the child. When you bond with your baby, your brain releases oxytocin, also called love hormone.
Your priorities change when you have kids. You tend to prioritize their needs above yours and become more responsible and sensitive towards their well-being. Your child soon becomes the primary motivating factor behind every decision of yours.
Being a dad is an honorable job – you are in a unique position to positively impact a life from childbirth to a full-grown adult. By following a few rules and advices, you can nourish and nurture a good human being. Children who are blessed with great dads grow up to be kind, generous, gracious, empathetic, emotionally balanced, and well-rounded individuals who are a great addition to society.
To raise good sons and daughters, you must first be a great dad.
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