As a father who works outside the home, I recognize that it is easy for me to get caught up in stress at work. Indeed, sometimes it is difficult to turn off my work focus and turn on my family focus so that I can come home and be the loving husband my wife needs and the playful father my kids want.
Father’s have such an important and irreplaceable role in the family. Good fathers provide stability and strength to the family. Good fathers recognize their limitations and work to improve their shortcomings. As fathers, we need to be mindful that we do not let the pressures and worries of work get in the way of being there for our kids.
Here are some thoughts to help fathers keep their little ones in mind.
- Make a plan to spend time each day with your kids. It doesn’t need to be a lot of time, but if you are able, have one-on-one time with each of your kids. It may take you all week to get that one-on-one time, but it will make a world of difference in their lives.
- Be goofy with your kids. The more voices you do, the more expressive you are when you play with them, the more they will feel your love and your acceptance of them.
- Bond with them. The basic forms of bonding include eye contact, smiles, and touch. For mothers, bonding often comes naturally as they nurse their new babies. But fathers need to be more intentional in order to develop a bond with their kids. Fathers can offer to sooth a crying child by holding them and humming a lullaby. They can look into their child’s eyes and smile. They can hold their little hands or rub lotion on their bodies after a bath.
- Spend time reading to them. Allow your kids to choose a book and spend time reading some of it to them before bed. The more effort you put into it the more they will feel your love. Reading stories is an excellent time for dads to practice voice imitations.
As a therapist who works with children and their families, I have noticed that the better the relationship that a father has with his child, the more influence that father will have on his child. As fathers work on developing a strong bond with their kids through positive interactions, they can have a tremendous stabilizing effect in the lives of their children. And the security and confidence that comes from that stability can give their children a great advantage to succeed in the things they choose to do in life.
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Institute.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, and Tempe, Arizo