If there is one transformative experience that a man can undergo, it’s becoming a father. While some men see fatherhood as a cramp on their style and an intrusion into their own preoccupations and plans, many more embrace it. In doing so, they take up the responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others. And while that’s a lot of pressure, it also gives them a chance to prove themselves worthy of their role.
The traditional view of a father’s purpose has been to provide for the family, discipline the children and teach religious instruction. In modern times, however, it’s not just the biological dad that plays this role — it can be a stepdad, uncle, friend or teacher. It is not the number of chromosomes that determines who is a father; it’s the ability to respond to environmental change.
A good dad is loving and caring. He encourages his kids to express their feelings and helps them navigate through the tough stuff in life. He’s also aware that he’s a role model to his children, and he strives to demonstrate honesty, humility and a sense of responsibility.
The good dad understands that children are a gift. He spends quality time with them engaging in activities, conversations and bonding experiences. He teaches his children to value hard work, and shows them that it’s not something to be afraid of. He’s a good provider and always puts his family before himself.
A good father respects his children’s mother and tries to keep their relationship peaceful and harmonious. He’s thoughtful of the needs and wants of everyone in the family, including himself (“I want to watch soccer on TV, but I know my kids would prefer to be outside”). He’s a good listener and tries to put himself in his children’s shoes.
Research has shown that children who have positive relationships with their fathers tend to perform better in school and have higher self-esteem. As we move into an increasingly diverse society, it’s essential for all health professionals to look at how to engage all parents — whether they’re the biological parent or not — and provide them with the support they need to nurture their children’s growth. In doing so, we can help them fulfill their roles as fathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, friends or teachers. They are all part of a child’s extended family, and they all deserve to be treated with equal respect. Together, they can help their kids be the best they can be.