Everyone knows how important a mother is in a child’s life, but it’s easy to forget how critical a dad is to a child’s well being.
One of the responsibilities and privileges of being a father is to provide for their family. Sadly, many families don’t have a father in the home, but even among those families where dad is present there is often some confusion over what exactly men are supposed to provide.
Certainly, it includes doing one’s best to ensure the necessities: safety, security, food on the table, and such. Many dads provide only the basics they received themselves. Others go a step further by trying to provide a “better” life than they had when they were growing up. But what does a better life really look like?
Providing the fundamental material needs of a child is essential, but our children crave more than three square meals and a roof over their heads. And giving them gadgets, technology, and some pocket money doesn’t supply what might be missing deep down in a kid’s heart. So what else do they need from a dad?
- Relationship. Children yearn for a loving connection with their father. Research shows that a father’s presence helps children with social adjustment, improves graduation rates, and reduces a child’s risk of mental health problems. Yet a lot of dads don’t make time for relationship a priority. Consider that 212 million days of vacation went unused in the United States in 2017. Have you ever left vacation time on the table at the end of the year? If we’re honest with ourselves we have to admit that in many ways that’s time stolen from family. Time is crucial because you can’t pay attention and listen to someone else without dedicating time to them. Listening expresses value and love. So, when you’re with your child, put down your phone, make eye contact, and listen to what’s on your child’s heart.
- Boundaries and expectations. Kids need dads that are willing to do the hard work of creating boundaries. Kids need these as they learn to navigate emotions, pressures, temptations, and relationships. Within the context of security and relationship, limits promote respect, trust, growth, and self-esteem. Children need limits, even though they may argue about them, test them, and even fight against them. You will be much more successful in implementing boundaries if you have a healthy relationship with your kids.
- Mission, direction, and vision. Even from a young age children are starting to build their identity. By validating and modeling such things as their character, talents, and skills, dads can provide guidance that will help kids focus their lives and pursue meaning and purpose. Take some time to think about how you can focus, model and explain to your children the Assets found within the category of Positive Values:
- Asset #26: Caring – model caring for others and invite your children to assist you in mowing an elderly neighbor’s yard, shoveling their drive after a heavy snow or raking their leaves.
- Asset #27: Equality and Social Justice – ask your children what they feel like when they’ve been treated unfairly and use their answers as a springboard to brainstorm ideas to respond to things they think are unfair in the world or community around them.
- Asset #28: Integrity – work to help your child define their convictions and beliefs and how they might stand up for them when faced with situations where these beliefs and convictions are being challenged.
- Asset #29: Honesty – talk about scenarios with your children to help them understand the importance of honesty and why its important even when telling the truth isn’t easy.
- Asset #30: Responsibility – as a dad you are modeling this behavior through providing for your family. But don’t forget the importance of taking responsibility – in front of your children – when you’ve done something that may need to be followed by an apology or explanation.
- Asset #31: Restraint – take time to talk to your children about the importance of saying “no” to behaviors that could negatively impact their future. Conversations about sex, drugs and alcohol can be tough or even embarrassing but the benefit of having them far outweigh the risk of not.
Fathers can—and must—provide more than just material needs. If you’re a mom reading this, feel free to share it with a dad who might be interested.
RezilientKidz is a 501c3 educational organization created to champion the needs of children and equip parents to build thriving, healthy families. For information on our parenting curriculum, Raising Highly Capable Kids, contact us at 855-REZ-KIDZ or 8675 Explorer Drive, Col Springs, CO 80920.
Raising Highly Capable Kids Curriculum: https://www.rezilientkidz.com/raising-highly-capable-kids/
Fight for Your Marriage Curriculum: https://www.rezilientkidz.com/fight-for-your-marriage/