If someone doing a survey asked this question, “What gives you the greatest source of happiness?”, the majority of people would say, “My family.”
If a second question was asked, “What gives you the greatest source of grief?” many people would respond, “My family?”
Family can be the greatest source of joy and also the greatest source of heart break. That is why it is so important, as a dad, to do fathering as well as we can.
Research reveals what happens when the father is not present.
Children are more likely to…..
- be financially compromised
- become involved in drug and alcohol abuse
- drop out of school
- suffer from health and emotional problems.
Teen boys are more likely to become involved in crime and go to jail.
Teen girls are more likely to become sexually promiscuous and pregnant.
These outcomes are not inevitable but they do highlight the value of dads.
I would like to offer 10 tips of what a father can do to give his children a strong foundation for life.
- Love their mother – show your kids how a man can treat women well and model a healthy relationship.
- Love your kids unconditionally – your kids are going to make mistakes; they need to know, despite their failures, that you are going to show your love and support even when they mess up. This does not mean you have to condone or accept all their choices.
- Provide for them – not only in practical things like food, shelter and clothing but also in emotional support.
- Discipline – kids thrive when they know what their boundaries are and you follow through with consequences. Discipline is not the same as punishment. Discipline is what you do for your child to build character. It should be done in love, not in anger.
- Be there – quality and quantity time both matter.
- Prepare them for life – teach them how to do things, eg change a tyre, mow the lawn, cook, clean, manage finances, how to treat others, handle stress.
- Serve – role model the importance of serving others. This is one of the greatest antidotes to self-centredness.
- Role model – show how to accept responsibility and how to apologise when you mess up.
- Love God – we all have a spiritual side and we should be open and vulnerable when it comes to faith, especially in front of our kids.
- Have fun – create memories of laughter and fun family traditions. Your kids grow up so fast, you need to make every moment count.
A dad should be a person with whom their kids feel heard, valued, loved and able to ask anything and everything. We have a saying at Focus, it is never too early to talk to your kids about the BIG issues at an age appropriate level before society does. So, dads, we need to get out of our comfort zone and have those conversations because it is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when!
I should note, if you are mum doing your role solo, and your kids do not have an engaged father in their life, I would encourage you to seek out positive male role models for your children, like an uncle, grandfather, friend or coach.
In conclusion, the quality of our family life influences every other part of our life. So, do everything you can to set your kids up for success by being informed, being involved and being intentional.
CEO, Focus on the Family Australia
(Father of 3 and soon-to-be Grandfather)
Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive.