It's a fact, many fathers work a lot and have therefore less time to spend with their children and to build a strong relationship with their children. But the need to be a better father is also a strong concern for single fathers and stay at home fathers. Here are some clues to the ones who, no matter how different their situations are, ask themselves : "How to be a better father ?".
Is it really a question of time ?
"Busy fathers" might be tempted to say that their problem is that they don't have enough time with their kids in comparison with stay-at-home dads. But ask yourself this question : "Would your relationship with your child be significantly different if you had more time ?". Well yes, it would probably be different because you'd be able to do more things and have the feeling to build a stronger image of the father with a capital F.
But if lack of time plays a role in what prevents you from being a better father, it shouldn't be consider as the only reason. Indeed, what mostly gets in your way is the nature of the relationship itself that you're creating with your child.
What "better" means.
Let's digg our question here in order to understand a bit more what the real "problem" is and how to improve the situation.
"How to be a better father ?" actually means "How to be more than just an authoritarian figure ?" or "How to become an authoritarian figure by keeping being the nice and funny daddy ?".
Managing this balance is something many mothers don't worry about too much because some of them have the bad habit of putting this responsability on their husband's shoulders. By saying "Wait until daddy comes home, you'll see, he'll be very angry and punish you when I'll tell him what you did !" don't help you fathers. I'm not making a generality here. I just think this aspect has to be pointed out because the nature of fatherhood cannot be reduced only to the authoritarian figure.
You are a loving and reassuring figure first.
Rethinking your parenting style.
Scary, isn't it ? Rethinkng your parenting style involves settling new and simple basis in your communication with your child. I guess that if you ask yourself "How to be a better father ?" and look for help on the internet, it probably means that you feel like you're in a dead end or that it's harder than it seems to change your own attitude and be the father you want to be.
Instead of asking "How to be a better father ?", you could ask this : "What kind of father do I want to be and what are the changes I need to make to reach it ?"
Now here's what you can change :
- Really listen to your kid when he comes to you to talk about this and that. Don't filter what he says. Take that time. Look at him in the eyes when he talks. It matters to him. He's sharing how he sees the world. Feel honored to be the one your kid likes to talk to. Don't forget that you like to be listened to when you talk.
- If you say something, do it. Keep your promises or don't make any.
- About punishment, shouting is unecessary, spanking too. You don't want your kid to be afraid of you and dislike you. You want him to understand what is acceptable and what isn't. So explain why you punish and stay firm, but calm. That's how you'll gain respect.
- Don't underestimate your child's capacities. See him as capable, he can't be self confident if you don't believe in him.
- Say "I love you" many times per day. It's not always obvious for our kids that we love them. They need to feel reassured about it. Hug and kiss your kid. He'll grow up too soon.
- Show your vulnerability. Talk to your child about your fears when you were his age. Don't always act as if you were a rock.
Those are tips which I hope can help you see a bit more clearly the little things we tend to neglect in our relationship with our children and which can have real consequences. That's why the key is to have a coherent parenting style to create a constant good child's behavior (the link in the author info box on the right might help!)