Fatherhood – How to raise a healthy happy child

October 20, 2014

Father with familyFatherhood is probably one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever take on in your life. It’s daunting and a little bit scary to think that the little baby you’ve helped to create is dependent on you and your partner for everything for the next few years. Okay, so maybe it’s a lot scary!

And face it. There’s no degree you can go to school for that will guarantee that you’ll excel at the job at hand. In fact, all you’ve really got are examples of fatherhood from your own father and others you know who have taken on the task before you.

So how are you going to manage to provide for the child what they will need in order to become healthy, happy, responsible adults? There are no set rules are there?

But here are some suggestions that might help you along the way:

  1. Break the patterns of the past. Take a look at your childhood experiences with your own dad. Are there aspects of it that you feel didn’t work for you? Are there things you’d like to change? Was there too much control, judgment and criticism and not enough love, compassion and quality time?
    Pay attention to your own tendencies to be the same way and question how effective those tactics are. Then find a way to change how you parent.
  2. Self-Awareness.  Our first teachers are our parents. We learn most of what we know about life from them in the first three to four years. Be aware of how you behave, how you deal with stress, your relationship conflicts. What do you do with anger? How do you honour yourself and what are your beliefs? Children are sponges and are observing and absorbing your behavior from the day they’re born. Make sure you are setting the best example you can and if you can’t set the kind of example you need to then get help before it’s too late.
  3. Age appropriate freedom of choice. It is important to teach children how to make choices for themselves. It’s how they learn to make healthy ones. They need to understand consequences as a part of the decision-making process.
    Now at a very young age, it’s obvious they are not equipped to make all their own decisions but starting off with age appropriate decisions is a way to ease them into this learning. Offer options along with the consequences that result from each choice and most importantly, follow through with the consequences once the choice is decided upon.
    For instance: “If you’d like a brownie before dinner that will be counted as your dessert and you won’t get one after your meal.” If they choose the brownie now, ensure that you follow through even if they cause a fuss. They will learn to make a healthier choice next time.
    This is a really difficult point. In general, parents want to keep their children safe and protected but sometimes things get carried away and they grow up too dependent on parents to get them through tough situations.
  4. Be present. This is a term that is used quite a bit lately, maybe even overused. But it is an important one because it is the foundation of a good relationship with anyone, including your children. Put away the electronics and spend some quality time with playing or talking with your kids. Let them know you value what they have to share by really listening and acknowledging them.
    Sit down to dinner as a family and talk about the day’s events and happenings. If you feel too stressed from your work day when you get home, excuse yourself for a short time so that you can decompress, let go of the stress and they day’s hardships. When you rejoin your family, feeling more relaxed and ready to engage with them you can enjoy the time spent together. You’ll feel better for it and they will learn to take care of their stress in a healthy way by your example.
  5. Let compassion and love be your guiding force. Always approach your children with a loving heart even if they have made mistakes. Think of how you would want to be treated in similar circumstances and pass that on to your child. No mistake is ever bad enough to withhold love from a child. Remember that with loving guidance they will learn to make healthy choices for themselves and grow to be healthy, happy human beings.

So have fun with your role as father, don’t stress about doing the right thing. Allow your inner wisdom to lead you and you’ll be the kind of father you’ve always hoped to be with lasting, loving relationships with your children for a lifetime.

With love and kindness

Bettina

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