Celebrating all Dads

01 Sep, 2017

There are many different types of Fathers - some live with a partner, some are single, some are Grandparents and others may have shared care arrangements for their children.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate the diversity of Dads in Australia and for Fathers it’s a great time to think about the skills required to be the best Dad you can be.

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Community development officer Andre Cannavo said being a Father can be one of the most important roles a man will ever play.

“Research has shown that a fully engaged father positively influences his child’s development emotionally, psychologically and physically from birth onwards,” he said.

How to be an engaging Father

1. Daddy Dates.

It’s important that Dads connect with each of their children on a regular basis to ensure continued connection, positive role modelling, open communication and most of all, ongoing trust. One-on-one time ensures your child has an opportunity to engage with you, and have your undivided attention. Allow your child to select an activity they want to do - it doesn’t need to be an activity that incurs an expense. What’s important is that you show interest in the activity (even if it’s something you don’t particularly enjoy) and appreciate what interests your child. Make sure this activity is something you can both engage in.

Daddy Dates are particularly important during adolescence for both boys and girls. Puberty, the time of emotional and hormonal turbulence, requires a particular type of connection. It is the time of your child’s life where role-modelling is of utmost importance. This is your time to teach your teenager how to behave as an adult.

Dinner dates, for example, are an opportunity to model suitable male behaviour. As daggy as your daughter may think this is, the experience your adolescent acquires from the Daddy Date teaches safe and unsafe behaviour, so that she might develop boundaries when dating in the future. Likewise with your son, it is your opportunity to model good male behaviour and respectful relationships.

Here are some ideas for children of different ages:

Ages 3 - 7 - play at the local park, go on a picnic, a day at the beach, ice-cream and a walk.

Ages 7 - 12 - go see a movie, go for a bike ride or a hike in the bush, go camping to their favourite spot.

Teenagers - go out for dinner, take them to see their favourite team play a match, go to see a play at the theatre.

2. Be a Dad not a friend.

Children need a parent and a role model to look up to. They also need mates, but this doesn’t need to be you. They learn discipline, respect and good behaviour from you. Lead by example! It’s important that you connect emotionally to your children. Be aware of their feelings, how they react to discipline and the ways they manipulate situations. It may very well be learned behaviour you have modelled. Be aware of how you react when angry, sad, happy or frightened. Allow yourself the opportunity to consider your reactions to these situations and if required make changes. Recognising our own behaviours and taking responsibility for these behaviours will empower you to manage your children in a directive yet disciplined way.

3. Be present.

We are all guilty of zoning out and focusing on our phone, the football, TV etc. This downtime is important for your self-care.

But there comes a time when we need to take note of the amount of time we are disconnected from what’s going on around us. If you take the kids out and about, to the park for example, put the phone away and enjoy the experience of the world around you. Have fun - your children will love that they have your attention. You may even find their behaviour improves because they aren’t fighting for your attention.

4. Never go to bed angry.

Easier said than done! Our little devils are likely to challenge us on more than one occasion every week, just like we would have done to our parents. The important thing is to let them know that no matter what they’ve done, you love them all the same. Let them know how upset you are at their behaviour, but never let them fall asleep without telling them you love them. Just before lights out, stick your head into their room and say, “I am upset because… but I will always love you unconditionally".  

5. Always have fun.

Allow yourself to connect with your inner child. Remember what it was like to be 3, 10 and 15. Allow yourself to relive the good times and let your child know that you had fun like they are now. They will remember your stories, tell their own and one day, share the stories with your future grandchildren.

Have an awesome Father’s Day!

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