Fatherhood is about helping children become happy and healthy adults, at ease in the world, and prepared to become fathers (or mothers) themselves. Okay dads, listen up. The key to winning the war on teen alcohol and drug misuse rests not with police or laws, but with
So what can
- Involved fathers tend to go out of their way to interact with their children. They give up some of their own activities that are important to them in order to give more time to their children.
Show you accept them - A father's acceptance helps his children believe that dad will love them no matter what. It teaches them that they are loved for who they are rather than for what they do. When teenagers feel accepted by their fathers, they are more likely to share sensitive issues with them.
Shower your kids with affection - Express affection in different ways: loving words, small surprise gifts, appropriate touches that communicate volumes to a child (includes dads wrestling with boys). When a father shows affection to his child, he tells them they are worth loving.
Be consistent - That way children know what to expect and what they can count on.
Research has shown that children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors including drug use, truancy, and criminal activity.
But fathers need to stay mentally healthy themselves, as this enhances their ability to be a great dad, and to enjoy the experiences of being a father. Taking care of their own health and mental well-being also enables fathers to cope better with challenges or stresses that parenting might bring. Click here for a list of men's health links from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
From Kyton Ovide, one of our Teen Advisory Council members:
Dad...You are the...
B - being present in my life
encouraging me to do better at school
S - making me feel that I am special
- teaching me how to do and make stuff