By: Mayank Jain (LMB)
A father is a man who takes responsibility for the children in his life. Many men grow up with a positive, healthy role of fatherhood. It is said that Ä child needs a mother the most” they need fathers too. Fathers are as important to a child as a mother as children want to look upto a man they can trust. They want to have a father who guides them. Careful guidance builds a close, respectful relationship. It also teaches children how to be good parents, strengthening the generations that follow.
Entering in the phase of Fatherhood is the happiest moment for any man’s life but is a roller coaster ride too. It is the most important and challenging journey of life. No matter how fatherhood is described, it is an adventure that can be both demanding and rewarding. As a father, one would make a big difference in the life of the child.
It is often when men are holding their baby for the first time, they take a good hard look at what it means to raise a child. Looking in to those cute eyes, looking deep in your eyes makes you feel that the child is telling you, “Dad, here I am in your arms. Now it’s the time that you are not just a son, a husband but a father too and Dad, please be a good father, a responsible father.”
In that moment, your eyes will be filled with tears of happiness. That moment takes you into the thinking clouds and you start thinking of the future of the child and of the best possible ways you want to give the best to him/her.
New fathers often have strong thoughts and feelings about the birth process, which they might not tell anyone about. These thoughts and feelings can be intensified if the birth did not go as planned or there are difficulties for the mother or baby.
But, the first few years after the child birth is excited but is overwhelming and exhausting. Many dads feel a sense of relief that the ordeal is over and they have a chance to rest but some starts thinking about the responsibility that lies ahead as a parent.
Generally, men think that their partners are much better at baby-handling skills such as changing nappies, giving a bath to the baby or settling them to sleep because their partner has more opportunity to practise those skills. And if you’re living with your family, then they think that they don’t have to be worried about all these, but mind you, it is father’s responsibility also to learn all the baby handling skills and be involved in all of them. After all, it is the responsibility of both the parents. Sharing the loads allows each of you to have a break and get a chance to take some rest which is the most desirable thing in parenthood. Involved fathers make a big difference in the lives of their children.
Being a father takes practice and time. The more time you spend caring for your children, the more confident you will feel as a father.
It is important to be as involved as possible, right from the time you find out you’re going to be a father. In fact, the earlier you get involved, the more connected you will be with your child as they grow. From the first day your new born baby comes into this world, he/she is ready to interact with you and has a lot to learn. They can recognise faces, see colours, hear voices, discriminate speech sounds and distinguish basic tastes.
No man is born with all the skills necessary to raise a child.
Here are some important lessons for the fathers which they should practice to get connected to your child –
Provide the necessities of life – Fathers want to provide their children things like food, home, education, etc. but more important than that are things like love, security and attention. For them, these things are nothing but a safe place to grow. When their needs are met, children learn to trust that their father has their best interests in mind at all times.
Spend time with your child – Children watch how you spend your time. They learn about the things that matter the most to you. When you spend time with you children, they see they are worthy of your time, that they are important to you. While spending time with your children, focus on your children, do things that interest them and get away from your TV, Computer and put you’re your mobile phone (most important these days). Go outside whenever possible. Know how your children are doing in school and encourage success. Get to know what your children need to learn and how they learn.
Watching your children at the playground is not the same as playing with your children
Show affection – Children need to know that they are loved by their father. Your children need to hear you say, “I love you”. Hug them regularly. You need to initiate affection with your children. Showing affection will help your children learn they are important to you.
Talk with your children, even when they are babies and cannot use words to respond.
Respect and honor the mother of your children – It is important that parents are on the same page when it comes to setting limits, discipline and roles in the family. Children do well when they see their parents working together.
Be a role model to build trust and security – Your children learn more from what they see you do than from what they hear you say. They are watching how you spend your free time, what your attitude is towards hard work, how you talk about others and how you handle your emotions (especially anger). As they see you do these thing, they are learning about how to get along with other people, the value of hard work and how much of priority they are to you. Children bond with people they trust and respect.
Remember that fatherhood is a life-long commitment – Your roe as a father starts before pregnancy and continues throughout your child’s life. As your child grows, your relationship will grow and change. Children need to know that you will always be there and will always love them.
Teach your child – Children look to their father to teach them about life. A great way to do this is to learn about your own heritage and culture. Learn about your past and where you come from. Pass this along to your children. This means talking with your children about their grandparents and extended family. It means sharing skills like fishing, playing a musical instrument or a sport. Being involved in their school life is important too. Sharing life together helps fathers and children learn about each other. It gives children amazing stories to share with their own children when they become parents.
Sharing your traditions and community – Your children will feel more connected if they know about their community and their traditions. These will be a source of comfort and support when times are difficult. It will help them know who they are and to take pride of it. It will link them to you, to their extended family and to their community. There are many ways to do this:
- Tell your children about their ancestors
- Take your children to cultural events such as feasts
- Share teachings that you know
Give clear guidance – Children need guidance from adults who care about them. Being consistent helps your child feel safe and secure. Your child knows what to expect, feels safe making decisions and isn’t afraid to ask questions. Praise your child when he/she does well. Set limits for your child. Follow through when limits are crossed, but be calm and firm. Use a calm, understanding and positive approach when you teach or discipline your child.
Give reasonable expectations – Fathers want their child to do things which they were not able to do as a child. They want to live their dream through their children’s life and for that they set higher expectation levels. This in fact puts your child under pressure and your child may become incompetent, or inefficient or he/she may get frustrated in case he/she is not interested. Besides, teach your child to do whatever they love (besides it’s not bad for them) responsibly and with great passion. Having responsibilities help your child learn how to solve problems and boosts up their confidence level. Make sure your child is able to complete the task with minimal help and praise them when the job is done. On the contrary, if your expectations are too low, your child may not learn to be responsible or to push themselves when things are hard.
Be supportive – All children need a safe place then they are hurt or feel frightened. It may be a bad bream, being treated unfairly at school or falling off their bicycle. You can be this safe place by listening to your child and by doing whatever you can to make things better. Try to hear what you child is NOT telling through words, by paying attention to his body language and emotions, i.e. listening with your eyes.
Fatherhood also depends on situations and conditions as fathers raise their children in many different situations. It is the attitude of the father in that situation/condition that defines him to be a good or a bad father. There are single fathers who are raising their children on their own. There are separated and divorced fathers who are working hard to stay involved with their children. There are fathers who are unable to see their children because of distance, or work.
I remember the story of an award winning movie – The pursuit of happyness. It’s a story of a man, Christopher Gardener- a failed businessman, whose wife leaves him and son because her husband is not earning much to be able to take care of the family, the father alone takes care of the son even when he’s been evicted of his house. There is a scene in which the father is left with only 28 dollars in his pocket and that too when he doesn’t have any job. Being under this heavy stress of being homeless and jobless, it was his attitude, focus, hard word and calmness that he takes care of his son.
No matter what situation you are parenting in, it is important to put forth your best efforts as a father. If parenting is shared with a partner, think about how to provide the best, healthiest, emotionally safe environments and relationships for your children. Children benefit by feeling love from their parents. Try to stay connected with your children besides being away from your children. It’s tough when you can’t see your children. Let your children know that you love and accept them. Tell them that even though you can’t be with them right now, you want them to know how much you love them and you think of them every day.