It doesn’t matter if you are a biological father, a step-father, an adoptive father or a foster father – your involvement in your child’s life is very important for their health, development and well-being. An involved father enjoys his children, shares playtime and the work of raising them with his partner, understands them well and can handle their daily routines, and has a close relationship with them.
Being an involved dad benefits the whole family.
Dads have many roles as being part of the family:
- Provider – helping to support the family financially, providing shelter and clothing.
- Nurturer – baths the child and changes diapers, comforts his child.
- Responsible – teaches the child how to behave appropriately, helps child do what the child likes to do.
- Interactive – spending time with the children, demonstrates social rules and values.
- Affectionate – give hugs and kiss, smiles at the child, plays games with the child.
- Committed – thinks his children are important.
There are many ways to help form an attachment with your child, such as:
- Holding your child
- Help your child through their daily routines
- Talking to your child
- Respond to your child’s needs and feelings
- Playing with your child
- Laughing with your child
As your child gets older, look after them, respond to their emotional needs, and give them your time. Teach your child how to behave well, be responsible and get along with others. Set a good example and be a role model for your child. Ask them what they learned in school or what activities they did that day.
As you play with your child, let them take the lead and show you how to play in a way that makes sense to them. As long as it isn’t anything that can hurt the child, wait to see what they are doing and watch to see how they react.
How being an involved father benefits the child:
- Less chance of cognitive delays.
- Better performance on cognitive tests and improved language skills.
- Better chance of graduating high school and further education.
- Decrease in problem behaviours in boys.
- Positive effect on mental health of girls.
- Better chance of a successful career.
- Lower rates of child problem behaviours (such as hyperactivity), teen violence, delinquency and other problems with the law.
- Rough-and-tumble play between father and child teaches children how to manage aggressive impulses and how to control their emotions during physical activity.
- Higher self-esteem and less likely to be depressed.
- Increase in empathy, self-esteem, self-control, feelings of ability to achieve, psychological well-being and social competence.
- These children grow up to become positive and involved with their children.
- Child is emotionally secure and has a secure attachment to the father.
- Children have a broader imagination.
- Relax – don’t put extra stress on yourself.
- Take your time – you and your baby have a lot of learning to do. As with starting a new job, it takes time to feel comfortable - the same is true when you become a father.
- Pay attention to mom – she is going through some amazing changes and needs your support, understanding, and care.
- Learn everything about your baby from your baby – watch for the cues that show when he is hungry, tired, happy or in need of a diaper change.
- Consider a parental leave – take a look at whether or not a parental leave from work is an option for you so you can spend time at home.
- Be hands-on – look for opportunities to help with the baby care. The more experience you get, the easier it becomes and the more confident you feel.
- Be aware of your emotional health – men can also experience a range of emotions after the birth of the baby.