In the movie Overboard, a man tricks a woman with amnesia into thinking she is a wife and the mother of four. Annie (the mother) gets fed up with the father for not spending time with his children. His response to her? He says he is a pal to his kids, and that he “brings home the paycheck, which is what the man of the house is supposed to do.”
Annie’s response? “Your children have pals. What they need is a father.”
For many years, experts told fathers that bringing home a paycheck and leaving the parenting to Mom was the most important example they could set for their family.
Now, research shows that having a loving and nurturing father is as valuable as having a loving and nurturing mother for a child’s happiness, well-being and social and academic success. It isn’t just about bringing home the bacon.
Looking back, Scotty Probasco, Jr. recognizes that his dad did a whole lot more than just bring home a paycheck. As a result, his influence is still present in his life today. He set an example that helped his children understand what it means to experience life to the fullest.
“My dad and I were as different as night and day,” Probasco says. “He served in both World Wars and was a very stern man, yet he was a nurturing presence in my life. He showed me what it meant to be a loving husband and father by working hard, yet making sure that he spent time with our family. My dad believed that work was honorable and fun. He taught me that I ought to try to do things that would make the world a little bit better. Throughout my life, I have tried to live out the lessons my father taught me.”
Mr. Probasco, Sr. set an example for his son that not only taught him about taking care of his family, it taught him about the greater good: Understanding that it is not all about you. He knew that some of the greatest blessings people receive are from giving to others.
There is no doubt that involved dads do make a difference in the lives of their children. However, some fathers struggle with how to engage their children so they can provide a nurturing example.
If you really want to connect with your children, try these tips from the experts.
- Respect your child’s mother. If you are married, keep your marriage relationship strong. If you are not married to your child’s mother, it is still important to respect and support her. Parents who respect each other are better able to provide a secure environment for their children.
- Spend time with your children. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but spending time with your kids is essential. You lose missed opportunities forever.
- Talk to your children. Too frequently, dads only speak with their kids when they have done something wrong. Take time to listen to their ideas and problems with they are young. If you do that, they will still want to talk with you when they get older.
- Discipline with love. Children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. When you discipline in a calm and fair manner, you show love for your child.
- Be a role model. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves for boys to treat her with respect, and she knows what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty and responsibility.
- Be a teacher. Teaching your kids about right and wrong encourages them to do their best, and you will likely see them make good choices. Use everyday examples to help your children learn the basic lessons of life.
- Show affection. Children need the security that comes from knowing their family wants, accepts and loves them. Show appropriate affection every day -it’s the best way to let your children know that you love them.
And finally, don’t underestimate your significant role in your child’s life.