Extension and Ag Research News


Learn the ABCs of Successful Fathering

Many men become biological fathers, but successful fathering is the work of a lifetime.

“The saying that ‘a father’s work is child’s play’ is a thoughtful observation that actually captures a unique truth,” says Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension family science specialist. “The reality is that the most important work a man will ever do is within the walls of his own home. Many men become biological fathers, but successful fathering is the work of a lifetime.”

A few building blocks are the ABCs of successful fathering:

  • A is for being available, attentive and participating in activities.

Being around is the first step to being available to your child. To a child, love is spelled t-i-m-e. This may require some effort on the part of a father.

“Examine your work schedule,” Brotherson says. “Come home a little earlier. Take more time together in the evenings. Children want parents to be available for time with them.”

Attentiveness means focusing attention to their feelings and activities. Do you know your child’s favorite color? Do you know what activity your child would most like to do with you? Attentiveness is crucial to seeing and following a child’s invitation for a father to be involved.

According to research, the most significant way for fathers to connect with their children is through participating in shared activities. Men feel close to their children when they are doing things together that are fun, engaging or focused on learning. The key is doing something together but not just talking. This can range from reading to playing checkers or going fishing.

  • B is for big moments and being playful and a model.

Be there for the big moments of your child’s life, such as at birth, birthdays or school performances.

“Dads excel at playing with their child,” Brotherson says. “Playing together is the most underrated but important aspect of parenting. It builds great relationships and fosters learning. Fathers can challenge a child’s abilities, provide opportunities for growth and build connection bonds through play.”

Fathers also are role models, whether they want to be or not. Children learn by observing and imitating. Discuss personal values that you wish to instill in your children. Fathers should be a model of good behavior.

  • C is for connecting and coaching.

Connecting for fathers occurs when they are involved in their child’s activities and by talking and providing support. Making a connection is among the most important aspects of parenting, according to research.

A good coach will give counsel and a father is a good coach. A father should give time, listen, create teaching opportunities, share stories and introduce new skills. A father should be gentle in discipline, firm in providing guidance and clear in his message of support.

“The ABCs of successful fathering provide a foundation point as fathers seek to build healthy and caring relationships with the children they love,” Brotherson says. “If you begin with the ABCs, you are laying the foundation for success.”

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Sean Brotherson, (701) 231-6143, sean.brotherson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.