Engagement, Accessibility, Responsibility
Whether it’s the first time, 4th or more, there is no set criteria. Every dad has his little quirks and ways of doing the ‘daddying,’ but we found a mix of traits relating to engagement, accessibility and responsibility as being key to being a better dad.
Let’s explore these in more detail.
1. Be Present: Too often, we think that being physically there for our kids is us ‘being there’ for them. It’s not. To be present, means putting down the phone and really engaging with your kids. It doesn’t need to always be for hours, but really connecting emotionally is so vital for our kids to experience.
2. Regular communication: Children learn from a very young age, and talking, and asking the right questions (even if you get lots of ‘huh’s?) initially is a great way to show interest, and builds their own sense of communication with others.
3. Get great at listening: It is hard to resist the urge to jump in and solve the problems our kids have, to tell them what they should do. Often that comes out of a feeling of love for them — we are afraid that they will do the wrong thing so we want to fix it.
The good news is that the vast majority of dads know they’re bad at listening! When the Fathering Project asked audiences of dads how good they are at listening, 98 percent did not put their hands up — as a consequence kids, especially teenagers, refrain from telling their dads stuff because they are afraid of the lecture that they are about to get.
- Our Presence – The gift that really matters to our children (Good Men Project)
- The Fathering Project
- How one dad redesigned his who home around his daughter’s sense of play
1.Be available: For lots of dads, getting to home ‘on time’ can be a real issue, but as well as trying to make more of that precious time available, dads should also focus on making the time they have to really be there for their children.
Dr Richard Fletcher, leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program based at the University of Newcastle, Australia, has a great piece of advice to get in the zone:
‘Before dads get home from work, they should do things that prepare them to be with their kids. This could be listening to music or going for a walk. “Transition time” can help them move more smoothly from work to home life.’
2.Be open minded: Good parenting is about accepting the good with the bad, and this trait is as much about dad being open minded with himself, as with his kids. As technology moves fast, and the access to information and people our kids get, we need to be open minded enough to move with them, not to feel we need to slow them down. Take an interest in how education is changing, and why.
3.Affection: Dads shouldn’t be afraid to show affection. Kids need physical contact, and not just from their mums and others. Snuggle with them, hug them, love them. There’s different theories as to whether kids can get too much affection, but for us, the more the better!
- Can kids get too much affection?
- The power of calm
- Twelve ‘truths’ about fatherhood for modern dads (a tongue in cheek perspective)
1.Leads by example: Actions speak louder than words. A dad who can’t back up his words is simply ordering, not leading. Your kids are looking at everything you do, not to judge you, but to learn from you. That means sometimes dads need to show them the way, and try not to contradict what they say, with what they do.
2.Sets the right boundaries: Kids need discipline. There’s no two ways about it. But what we define as discipline can, and should, vary. All kids are different and our privilege as a dad is to know how and when we need to set the right boundaries. Don’t forget your child is learning and growing all the time, it’s ok for them to make mistakes, and it’s ok for you to make mistakes – but go into it with the right boundaries.
3.Can work as a team: Where dad is part of a team; ie. With a partner, wife, extended family, close friends, etc – don’t forget the role and pressure that others in the home may be under too when it comes to the parent game.
It’s a two-way street – sometimes you need to step in and offer the help to others, and sometimes you need to raise your hand when you need that extra help. It’s a team game.
The DaddiLife Perspective
Time isn’t the enemy, what you do with it is
‘If only I had more time’ is a line you’ll hear a lot these days. It gets used about meeting friends/family more often, it gets used about going to the gym, but it also gets used about spending quality time with children. The enemy is not time, it’s what you do with however much of it you have. The art of being present is so important. Our children look up to us, and look to us to guide. Whatever time we have, don’t let that time be wasted time dad.
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Great post, (and epic guide too)! This has some really great tips going on, and actionable stuff too. I think ‘being present’ and ‘being available’ really go hand in hand. Of course for most of us, most of our waking day is dedicated to working and paying the bills.
What’s really key is to ‘power-down’ on the homeward journey, so that by the time we get home our work-day is behind us. This way we have the freshness of mind to get on our kid’s level. And even if it’s only for 30 minutes. As long as that 30 minutes is 100% focussed and dedicated to the kids, that’s enough to fill their buckets. And practising this ‘present-mind’ state is a powerful stress reliever, so there’s a real wellness benefit too.
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