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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | PARENTING

How to Be a Good Dad

 What is the role of a father?

  •   Before your child is born. The kind of husband you are now indicates the kind of dad you will be later. The book Do Fathers Matter? observes:

     “A father who helps his pregnant partner buy supplies, takes her to doctors’ visits, and sees the fetus on an ultrasound or hears its heartbeat is more likely to be involved with his partner and baby after the birth.”

     “I didn’t want my wife to feel that she was going through her pregnancy alone, so I helped her however I could. We even set up the baby’s room together. It was a special time for both of us as we prepared for the baby’s arrival.”—James.

     Bible principle: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.

  •   After your child is born. You can create a bond by playing with and holding your infant. Share in caregiving tasks too. Your involvement as a father contributes significantly to your child’s development. The bond that you build shows that you view your child as precious to you.

     “Get down to your child’s level. Play. Be goofy. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember, a child’s first impression of love comes from you as a parent.”—Richard.

     Bible principle: “Children are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”—Psalm 127:3, footnote.

  •   As your child grows. Research shows that children who are close to their father do better at school, have fewer emotional problems, and are less likely to abuse drugs or get involved in delinquent behavior. Take the time needed to cultivate a good relationship with your child.

     “My son told me that what he would miss the most when he moved out was the conversations we had during long drives or at dinnertime. Some of the most important conversations we had came when I least expected it. They came as a result of spending lots of time together.”—Dennis.

     Bible principle: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, making the best use of your time.”—Ephesians 5:15, 16.

 How is a father unique?

 Traditionally, fathers have been viewed as material providers and physical protectors of the family, while mothers have been regarded as more sensitive to the family’s emotional needs. (Deuteronomy 1:31; Isaiah 49:15) Those roles may overlap—in some families, to a large degree. Nevertheless, researchers say that a dad and a mom each contribute a unique ingredient to the parenting recipe. a

 Family researcher Judith Wallerstein relates a personal experience that illustrates the point. She writes: “When my twelve-year-old daughter was hit by a car, she wanted her father to ride in the ambulance because she had greater confidence in his ability to take charge. Later on in the hospital, she wanted me to sit at her bedside all day to comfort her.” b

 “A father brings a measure of stability and protection to the family that a mother may struggle to provide on her own. At the same time, a mother creates a nurturing environment as she listens with empathy. Both work together as a team.”—Daniel.

 Bible principle: “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.”—Proverbs 1:8.

 Dads and daughters

 As a father, you teach your daughter how she deserves to be treated by men. She learns this lesson in the following two ways:

  •   By observing how you treat her mother. When you love and respect your wife, your daughter sees the qualities that are important for her to look for in a spouse later in life.—1 Peter 3:7.

  •   By observing how you treat her. When you show respect for your daughter, you teach her to respect herself. She also learns to expect that kind of treatment from other men.

     In contrast, persistent criticism damages a girl’s self-worth and can cause her to look to other men for approval—men who do not have her best interests at heart.

     “A daughter who has the love and support of her father is not likely to be swept off her feet by a man who doesn’t have the qualities to be a good husband.”—Wayne.

a Many mothers have successfully raised their children without the help of a husband.

b From the book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.