Be The Father You Never Knew | #DetroitFather

What does it mean to be a dad? The art of fatherhood is evolving as society and the traditional family changes. With these positive parenting tips, dads can help their children build confidence and self-esteem, and in turn, learn how to be an engaged, supportive, and loving father to their children.

Today's families are increasingly more diverse, including single parent families, blended families, same gender parents, unmarried parents, and multi-generational families. Over the past three decades, societal changes including the rise in numbers of women working outside the home, escalating divorce rates, remarriages, and blended families are causing shifts in both maternal and paternal roles.

Ask a dad today and he will probably tell you that his father-daughter or father-son relationships differ widely from those he experienced with his own father. Changes in parenting styles have given men more options for responding to obligations as fathers, husbands or partners. Today's dad is less likely to automatically rely on his own childhood experiences for fatherhood guidance. With the constantly changing roles of dads, what worked well for his father 30 years ago, may not work at all with the complex and varied challenges modern fathers face.

Current research reveals that warm accepting fathers tend to have children with higher self-esteem. An affectionate and nurturing father-child relationship furthers the development of children's achievement, peer popularity and personal adjustment. Loving fathers, who provide reasonable, firm guidance, without arbitrarily imposing their will, help to promote competence in children.

 Photography by MARS Photography (CR: Maddi Ibanez)

Photography by MARS Photography (CR: Maddi Ibanez)

  • Spend time with your child. How a father spends his time reveals to his child what is important to him. Kids grow up quickly and the time to bond is now. There are plenty of fun ways to spend family time with children.
  • Discipline with love and positive parenting. All children need positive guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Dads should remind children of the consequences of their actions and positively acknowledge desirable behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.

  • Be your child's role model. Whether they realize it or not, fathers are role models to their kids. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys and she learns what to look for in a partner. Fathers teach boys and girls what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility.

  • Earn the right to be heard. Fathers should begin conversations with their children about important topics when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time for listening to your child's ideas and problems.

  • Be your child's teacher. To be a good father, teach your children about right and wrong and encourage them to do their best. See that your children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help children learn the basic lessons of life.

  • Eat together as a family. An important part of healthy family life is bonding through family meals. It gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and be involved. It provides a structure for families to be together each day. 

  • Read to your child. In a modern world dominated by television and internet, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children in order to grow lifelong readers. Begin reading when they are very young and as they get older, encourage them to read on their own. Instilling a love of reading is one of the best ways to ensure children will have a lifetime of literacy and personal and career growth. 

  • Respect the other parent of your child. Parents who respect each other and demonstrate mutual respect to their children, provide a secure environment for them. When children see parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected within the father-child relationship.

  • Seek involvement early. Show interest early by understanding a father's role during pregnancy or the adoption or surrogacy process and gently touch, play, hold and talk to your infant child. When fathers are involved, they send the clear and emphatic message: "I want to be your father. I am interested in you and we have a relationship that is important to me."

Few events change a man's life as much as becoming a father. Being entrusted with the responsibility and care of another person is a monumental task but none is more rewarding than becoming a father and seeing your child grow gradually into adulthood, with your affection returned in good measure and your child's self-worth confirmed. Hopefully, these parenting tips can provide some guidance to dads trying to learn how to become engaged, supportive, and loving fathers.