Fathers play an incredibly important role in their children's lives, but did you know almost 24 million children in America — one out of three — live in biological father-absent homes (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). And of children living with their mothers,
35% never see their fathers and 24% see their dads less than once a month.
Sadly, these statistics reveal unfortunate effects, which we've discussed before on this blog. Children who grow up without a father or a positive male role model in their lives are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, premarital sexual activity, and do poorer in school.
On the other hand, the involvement of a father or positive male role model has significant effects on children. A healthy father-child relationship increases a child's physical well-being, perceptual ability and ability to relate to others. These children also demonstrate a greater ability to take initiative and demonstrate self-control.
If you are a divorced dad, it can especially challenging to stay engaged and nurture a strong relationship with your children. You might wonder what the most important things are that you should be role-modeling for your kids, or you may just wonder how to be the best dad you can be. Well, you've come to the right place! We're going to share with you five very important ways to be a great dad:
1. Show love. For some men, it's easy to show emotions. For some men, it's not so easy. Demonstrating love is incredibly important for dads to do, but it's not all about pampering your kids. Choosing to express your love through enabling them to be responsible individuals prepares your kids for life.
Think of the Chinese proverb "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." It's the same with your children - coaching them through hard times, in a supportive, positive manner, instead of removing obstacles from their path is a strong expression of love.
2. Don't forget the tender moments. There is always a place for hugs and kisses in a father/child relationship. Along with helping your children grow into responsible young people, don't overlook the affection and tender moments. Children respond best with a good mix of both!
3. Love your children's mother. This one is probably the most difficult for divorced dads, but demonstrating and role-modeling respect and love for your ex has an incredibly positive effect on your children, since they learn about love from how you love.
Before you protest too much, "love" in this instance would be demonstrated by being respectful, civil, and communicating in a positive fashion with each other.
Yes, it involves a bit of personal sacrifice if you've been through a bitter divorce, but this is about putting your feelings aside for the benefit of the children!
4. Support your children's role models. Children typically grow up around other adults who influence their lives: coaches, teachers, parents of their friends, neighbors or scout leaders. Supporting those relationships and not being jealous of them creates a healthy, positive environment for your children to learn from other adults. At the same time, it's a parent's role to protect them from the not-so-good role models!
5. Spend quality time. No amount of money or toys can replace the quality time that a father spends with his children. You cannot buy your children's love, nor can you show you how much you love them through the money you spend on them.
If you have more than one child, spend time together as a family, but also make time for a "date night" with each of your kids. Chances are they will love the individual attention and it enables you some time to really connect and bond with each child.
Being a divorced dad can be challenging, but you can also enjoy a great relationship with your children. By following these tips, you can be a great role-model for your children, and be a great dad at the same time.
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