Whether you already have a great relationship with your kids, or are trying to improve upon it, there are plenty of ways to work on your family interactions. No two situations are alike, and of course there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your children (sky’s the limit, pal!). If it’s important to you to grow as a parent, you won’t want to miss these 11 tips for being a better dad to your children.
1. Be Present
Studies have shown that children who have positive relationships with their fathers are more likely to grow up confident, sociable and emotionally secure. The easiest way to foster a positive relationship with your own children is to show up. Be there for them. It’s not always about what you’re doing, so long as it’s together. Additionally, studies show that involved fathers experience greater self-esteem, feel closer to their children, and are more effective as parents.
2. Keep Your Promises
Your children intuitively turn to you for guidance, and they shape their future relationships based on how you interact with them and the people around them. Show your children that your word is your bond. If you say that you’re going to do something: do it. If you say you’ll be there for their game: be there. This teaches them integrity, which can help them fulfill commitments in their lives, such as finishing school or holding a steady job.
3. Be Civil to Their Mother
Sometimes it’s difficult for kids to understand how it’s possible for you to love them but be so mad at their mother. Especially in cases of separation or divorce, it’s important to remain civil with their mother. Show your kids that it’s possible to disagree with someone kindly. This can prevent any contempt they might harbor about the way you treat mom, especially because it’s easy for kids to mistake anger toward their mother for anger toward themselves.
4. Be a Good Role Model
As hard as it is to admit sometimes, we are a product of our environments, and we often end up like our own fathers, in a way. Lead by example, and show your children how you expect them to behave now and as adults. Be a good role model for your son, especially, because boys without strong male role models are more likely to drop out of school and turn to drugs and alcohol. For your daughter, show her how she deserves to be treated, because she’s more likely to model her future relationships after her relationship with you.
5. Show Affection
Don’t leave anything up to interpretation. Tell your kids you love them, and show them you care. Take an interest in their lives, and ask them questions about their aspirations. Show your affections however you can, whenever you can. Likewise, studies show that giving your children affection and unconditional love can lead to fewer psychological and behavioral problems down the road. Children with loving, attentive fathers grow up to be successful and productive members of society.
6. Teach Your Children
Teaching doesn’t only happen in the classroom. Take every opportunity you see to teach your children right from wrong. Discuss consequences and talk about freedom of choice. It’s your responsibility to give your kids the tools they need to succeed in life.
Teaching can also be as simple as passing on knowledge about a skill you have. Bond with them over your love for wood working, cooking, auto repair or whatever other hobby you’re into. They might not show an interest, but it’s a great way to start a dialog and spend time together.
7. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
We’re all human, and no one is perfect. Maybe your kid has some skepticism about your new approach to the father-child relationship, or maybe you just don’t feel like you’re doing enough. Lighten up when possible, take a breather, and just do what you can.
8. Take Initiative
If your relationship with your child has become strained, you might not know how to begin repairing the damage. It’s important for you to take initiative and show that you’re interested in fixing your relationship with your son or daughter. Ask them what movie they’ve been wanting to see, or invite them on a drive through the country. Find a way for you to bond with your kid, and show them that you care. If you already have a great relationship with your children, the ball is still in your court.
9. Focus on the Positive
Even when your kids misbehave, they’re still kids, and they’re still inherently good people. Sometimes they make bad decisions, but you do that sometimes, too. It’s important to reinforce good behavior and praise their accomplishments instead of dwelling on their mistakes or shortcomings.
10. Know That Your Job Is Never Done
Just when you think you’ve found the perfect balance in your relationship with your kids, all of a sudden, they’re teenagers, with a completely different set of interests and hurdles to overcome. It’s easy to get comfortable with one parenting style, but it’s important to be adaptable and know that your kid might need something completely different in the future. Whatever stage your child is in, lay a strong foundation of love and trust now, so that you can lean on it, should you need to navigate uncharted waters in the future.
11. Know Your Legal Rights
It’s important to know what your rights are concerning your children, whether that be custody, visitation, or something else in the legal realm. If you need to protect your rights as a father, visit us online at or call 757-383-9184 to schedule a consultation with a custody lawyer for dads.