Thoughtful Parenting: Nurturing fathers | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Nurturing fathers

Susan Phillips/For the Steamboat Today

A growing body of research shows that children with two involved parents demonstrate lowered rates of juvenile delinquency and improved mental health, self-esteem and academic success.

Two parents, whether living together or not, can work together to help ease the demands and stress of parenting — and the very differences between parents can benefit children by providing a broader range of interpersonal experience, diversity and problem solving.

Parenting is not easy for even the most experienced mom or dad because each child is different and his or her needs are constantly changing. In addition, traditional roles for fathers and mothers are changing as parents increasingly have equal roles when it comes to nurturing and financially supporting children.

Because we tend to parent the way we were parented, unique challenges can exist for men who were raised in households where their father's role primarily was to support the family while leaving most of the child-rearing to mom, or where a father was not present or unable to parent effectively.

However, we know that parenting is learned behavior and, fortunately, today there is more education and support available for dads than ever before.

For example, the Bud Werner Memorial Library recently has added significantly to their collection of books related to fathering, and the Fatherhood Program of Routt County offers a variety of services and supports to dads.

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Below are some nurturing father tips:

• Respect your children’s mother: One of the best things a dad can do for his children is to respect their mother — whether living together or not. Children who see their parents respecting each other are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected.

• Spend time with your children: How a dad spends his time tells his children what’s important to him. If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say.

• Discipline with love: Children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior.

• Be a role model: A girl who spends time with a loving dad grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys and what to look for in a husband. Dads can teach sons and daughters important interpersonal skills like honesty, humility and responsibility.

• Eat together as a family: Sharing a meal together is an important part of healthy family life. It provides some structure in a busy day and gives kids the chance to talk about what is going on in their lives.

• Read to your children: Instilling a love for reading in your children is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of success.

• Show affection: Dads need to feel comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection every day is the best way to let your children know that you love them.

• Help yourself: When the big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point that you feel overwhelmed and out of control, take time out. Don't take it out on your child.

Susan Phillips is the coordinator for the Fatherhood Program of Routt County. She can be reached at 970-870-5289 or sphillips@co.routt.co.us.

For more

Beginning Jan. 29, the Fatherhood Program will offer the Nurturing Fathers class to support dads to be the best they can be for themselves and their families. This evidence-based, 13-session course will meet Thursdays beginning Jan. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. Soda Creek Elementary School.

Dinner and child care are provided at each session. A stipend for gas is available upon request. Space is limited so sign up soon by calling 970-870-5289 or email sphillips@co.rout