Whenever we talk about parenting, more often than not, it is the role of the mother that first comes to mind. Without a doubt, nothing beats a mother’s love, her gentle touch, her home-style cooking, her warm embrace and tender loving care.
But the role of a father in the life of every child is equally important. Personally, I am thankful to have a dad who taught me so much about striving to be the best person that I can be in most - if not all - aspects of my life. According to him, “The best thing about being a father is being part of his children's journey and career success.”
My husband, on the other hand, believes that fatherhood is truly a gift. He proudly shares, “The best thing about being a dad is the privilege and opportunity to shape, influence and build up the lives of our children. I may fail in other things in this world but I will make sure I will not fail as a father”.
It is wonderful to know that there are still a lot of men out there who are very much committed to fatherhood and will do everything that they can into becoming the best dad that they can be:
“I see it (being a dad) as an opportunity to be a source of love and nourishment and to impart wisdom to my children. And seeing them grow as Christ-centered individuals is the best gift I can ever receive from them (my children).” – Patrick Oconer, 32, father of 2 (Reese,5, and Gia, 4 months old)
“You can play multiple roles to you children. You can be a mentor, a friend, a judge, a comedian, a banker, a confidante, a priest, and so many other things. But at the end of the day, to them you are still a dad whom they will shower with love in their own unique way.” – Aldy Katigbak, 46, father of 4 (Lance, 19, Nica, 15, Justinne, 10, and Matthew, 8)
“Being a child again whenever I’m with her (my daughter), seeing the world through her innocent eyes and watching her grow is truly rewarding.” – Guchi Gutierrez, 33, father to 3-year old Caila
“For me, the best thing about being a dad is the privilege of loving my children with the best I can give.” – Kirby Llaban, 34, father of 2 (Sev, 4 and Kaitlyn, 2)
For some men, fatherhood simply comes naturally while others take time to come around. Some may need a little more effort and some would require more support. New fathers usually have fears of the responsibility it entails. Most have fears of living up to expectations.
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This is why it is also essential for us, women, to be able to support our partners in fulfilling their role as fathers. We can … and we have to make the most of the opportunities as well to bring out the best in them. Here are some ways you can do that:
1.Establish a strong partnership. Parenting is a shared responsibility. “We take the role of parents as partners in marriage, making sure that we are one with each other in the various facets of child-raising such as religion, values formation, discipline, and family bonding.” shares Daddy Aldy.
Be conscious of each other’s parenting roles and responsibilities. Oftentimes, we, as “mothers”, tend to measure our partners’ parenting capabilities according to how we ourselves do things for our children. We get frustrated when they fail to do what we want them to do. We need to understand that fathers have an entirely different parenting style, but what is important is that we both fulfill our individual roles and responsibilities and agree on common matters.
Instead of expecting our partner to do things the way a mother does, be more appreciative of his way of doing things. From there, we can work out ways to complement each other’s differences in parenting styles. Respect each other’s individuality.
“We were raised very differently from each other so we each have our own opinions on how to raise a family”, according to Daddy Guchi. “But early on, we shared each other’s ideas and plans, and discussed between us what would be best.”
2. Respect your partner’s opinions. In a survey conducted among men by the National Center for Fathering in the USA, a large percentage says that the biggest hindrance to their being a good father was a critical companion.
My husband suggests that understanding the manner by which a father would discipline his child is one of the ways thru which a wife can show respect to him as a father.
Being able to support your partner’s plans and decisions for your family is also one of the best ways to show respect. This way, knowing that he has the full support and respect of his family will give a father more reasons to fully embrace his role.
Daddy Kirby also suggests that it would be helpful for a father if his partner would give him the last say especially in front of their children. And if there are matters to discuss, it should be done privately between the husband and the wife.
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More importantly, when our kids see how much respect we give their father, they will grow to respect him as well.
3. Avoid falling into the competitive parenting trap. Never compete for your child’s love and attention, or worse, for the “best parent” title. A mother and a father both fulfill the needs of their children differently. Avoid keeping score on what you have achieved as a parent versus the number of times your partner has failed in his responsibilities.
No matter the situation, never speak ill of their dad to your children. Avoid creating the image of your partner as a “bad father”. You do not need to cover up for your partner’s shortcomings, but it won’t help to badmouth him, either. Explaining to your children would be the best recourse, mindful not to imply any negative bias against their father. Keep in mind that instilling negative impressions to your children about their father will later on affect their views on fatherhood as well.
Rather than fall into this trap, make room for your partner to excel in his parenting skills. Give him the benefit of being recognized for your child’s success and achievements. Share the joys and even the challenges of raising a child. The more he feels fulfilled as a good father, the more that he will strive to be the best.
4. Shower him with T.L.C. – T-rust, L-ove and C-onstant affirmation. “The untiring encouragement and affirmation, whether in words or in action, is the best way my wife shows her support in my role as a father,” says Daddy Patrick.
Most men need T.L.C. Our partners need us to trust them most especially in the decisions they make. Make them feel that we will stand by them no matter what.
Love your partner unconditionally. He needs to feel cared for and loved without judgments. Most importantly, constantly affirm him of the wonderful things he accomplished as a father, as this will inspire him even more to give care and love to his children as well.
5. Build him up to be your child’s role model. Honor and compliment your partner when speaking to your children. Share stories with them about dad’s success and achievements. Be proud of him as a father, as a husband, as a provider and protector. Encourage your kids as well to thank dad for all the things he has done for them.
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Daddy Guchi shares that “the fact that she (my daughter) considers me as a superhero is simply the best! And I hope she continues to think of me as one even when I’m old”.
6. Inspire him to pursue his passion and share them to the children. Support your partner in pursuing what he loves doing best. This may a hobby or a talent such as sports, photography, writing, etc, and encourage him to involve your children as well. If your kids show potential and interest in the same things he is passionate about, then he can be a mentor to them.
7. Create opportunities for bonding moments with dad. Have your partner spend time with the kids. Suggest to him the best time to bond with the kids - perhaps set aside a specific day in a week or a time within the day as “daddy time” and observe this as much as possible. You could also talk about coming up with a family tradition for daddy on certain special occasions, such as preparing daddy’s favorite meal on Father’s Day.
Other ideas for bonding moments with dad could be breakfast on Sunday mornings when you can eat together as a complete family. Or maybe, schedule a father and son camping during summer vacation. Another way could be to schedule daddy one night in a week for a bedtime story with the kids.
Indeed, a father’s role is way beyond simply providing for the family, and as his partner, we women need to devote ourselves into supporting him in this task. Fatherhood is a tough role to fulfill, but behind every great father is the encouragement, affirmation, trust, respect, love and full support of his family.