7-Ways to Become a More Intentional and Engaged Father
There are over 70 million fathers across the nation, according to fatherhood.gov. Being a father comes with responsibilities that many men don’t feel prepared to handle—however, they’re also responsibilities that they can only ever truly learn by experiencing. This life-changing role subtly asks each man to become the provider, teacher, mentor, and hero that their child needs. They’re constantly looking to their parent to learn how to make healthy life choices, which can be a heavy burden to carry as a father. Luckily, this responsibility is one of the biggest blessings that you can experience in your life. Here are seven tips to help you become a more engaged and intentional father.
Learn how to be truly present
Think about different ways you can be present in your child’s life. Keep in mind that life will only get busier for your child as they get older. Be intentional about how you manage your time at work and at home. Try to see which events mean the most to your kids and try to make sure that you can be there for them in person. Whether it’s a baseball game, a ballet show, or a piano recital, your kids will remember whether or not they saw you in the crowd of parents.
When you can’t make it to something, still reach out to your children and show them that you’re thinking about them. Strive to give them the feeling that, even when you’re not physically around, you still genuinely care about what’s going on. The best way to do this is by consistently showing up, day after day and night after night. When you’re home for the night, treasure the time with your kids.
Get insight from other fathers
Take advantage of your close friends who are parents. Ask them how they do it and if there are ways you can become a better parent. Those who are close to you may have observed some of your qualities, both good and bad. Consequently, their advice will be more personalized and current.
You can also learn a lot about parenting from thinking about your own parents. Were there things that they did that meant a lot to you? On the other hand, were there things didn’t they do that impacted your childhood? There’s no better way to know what your child needs than to think about what you needed. Looking at your childhood won’t give you all of the answers, but it can get you in an empathetic mindset to help understand your child.
Reflect on your lifestyle
To fit into the role of a mentor, take a look at your lifestyle. What kind of habits are you instilling in your children? Do you take time to invest in your friendships? Think about which behaviors you’d want your child to have, and whether or not you’re modeling that for them. Conversely, think about the behaviors you don’t want your kids to get from you. Be brutally honest with yourself and be mindful of positive changes you want to make.
Help your kids become their own person
Sometimes parents think of their children simply as an extension of their own life. However, it's important to remember that, while they are your children, they’re also individuals. Try to support your child’s self-discovery by understanding what they’re interested in and what they’re good at. When you and your kids are doing an activity together, see what aspects they enjoy the most. Help your kids try new things and don’t be afraid to point out potential talents or passions. Keep in mind, pointing out unique abilities can help your child find their purpose in life.
Provide helpful life skills
Assess the skills and traits your children will need for the next stage of their life. Be prepared to teach them how to get there and encourage them each step of the way. Be intentional about blocking out time to teach them life skills. Whether it’s to driving a car, repairing their bike, or fixing the fridge, explain what he should tackle himself and what to leave for a professional to handle.
Be specific with your plans
Take time to plan how you’ll spend time with your children. Plan things a few months ahead if possible. Note what important events you’ll be attending, and when you’ll want your kids there. Share your plans your kids or surprise them.
*** Written for Meridian Counseling by Amanda Turner. Amanda Turner is a freelance writer and recent graduate who is exploring her passions through writing.