How To Be a Dad - 7 Basic Principles

parenting Jul 20, 2021
How To Be a Dad - 7 Basic Principles

Becoming a father is one of the most fulfilling yet challenging journeys you can take. First-time dads may feel especially anxious because — let’s face it — there is no manual for being a dad. If you ask other fathers, you won’t get a one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are principles that generally apply to all. These concepts are the basic essentials to becoming a great dad, helping you foster a meaningful and strong relationship with your child.

Wondering what these principles are? Dad University has shared these seven core aspects for all dads. Keep reading to learn more about these concepts.

1. Commitment

Imagine you’re training to become a musician or an athlete. The only way you can become good is by being committed to your craft. You want to practice every day for a good part of your life, even though you may suck at it during the beginning.

The same rings true for being a dad. To become a better dad, you need to make a commitment. Then, you need to put that commitment into action. Don’t just tell yourself that you’re going to commit to being a dad. Show that you are by dedicating time and effort to your child and their needs. You have to show up consistently in their life.

2. Contact/Affection

Some researchers have found that infants in orphanages faced higher mortality rates because they did not receive physical affection from a parental figure. Physical affection and contact shape our neural pathways, and the lack of these can severely affect the development of infants. As a father, you need to give your child as much affection and physical contact as you can. The act of hugging, kisses on the cheek, and hand-holding helps you bond with your child and conveys a sense of being cherished.

3. Connection

In this sense, connection is the bond and relationship you have with your kid. First-time fathers may not feel an immediate connection at first, and that’s perfectly normal. It will take some time to forge this bond, so don’t try to force it. Instead, try various activities to improve your relationship with your child. You can:

  • Play games that your child likes
  • Read together
  • Have a conversation
  • Share a meal

The common thing about these activities is the quality time you spend. You need to be present during your bonding moments, and not just physically. Mental and emotional connection is important, so your attention and enthusiasm should show during these moments.

4. Communication

We’ve mentioned that having a conversation is a good activity to improve the connection between you and your child. Conversations fall under communication, the next key principle you need to consider. There are two types of communication — verbal and non-verbal. Whichever approach you take, the most important thing is to listen to your child.

Being an empathic listener helps look beyond what your child is saying. When they know that you are listening and not just hearing, they are more likely to feel secure around you. They’d feel more eager to share their thoughts and feelings. Still, don’t be just a listener. Make sure to communicate back, so your child can listen in turn and learn how to empathize, in turn.

5. Character

Character is who you are as a person. You can be a good or a bad character, and this will reflect on your child as well. Remember the saying “monkey see, monkey do?” Well, children are always watching and listening. What you set as an example, they will emulate. If you are showing bad character traits, like laziness and stubbornness, your child might replicate those. 

Make sure to become the person you want your child to be and lead by example. Show that you are a good person by being a kind, emphatic, and upstanding person. That way, you will become their role model as they grow up.

6. Coach

The label of being a “parent” can put a limit on how you raise your child. That is why it’s important to see from other perspectives or take another mantle. The sixth principle is all about being a coach or a mentor to your child. 

With a “parent” mindset, you may just be following what your parents did to you as a child, from how they dealt punishment and how they provided encouragement. If you approach being a dad as a “coach,” you can change many aspects of parenting. Instead of yelling or belittling your kid for a mistake, you encourage them to see what they did wrong and what they can do better. Instead of showing your disappointment, you can make them feel your support.

This switch in mentality will help you get a better sense of how to approach parenting. As a result of your “coaching,” your child may start having better self-esteem and self-acceptance. They don’t see you as an authority to fear, but a mentor they can count on. 

7. Consistency

All of the above won’t work unless you have consistency. Remember, being a dad is like a full-time job. If you are only going to put in effort occasionally, then your child will not feel that they’re your priority. Besides, lack of consistency breaks the first concept: commitment. Showing consistency means constantly trying your best as a parent — no excuses. This is one way to show that you are committed to your child. 

Final Thoughts on Being a Dad

The seven concepts we shared above are a great starting point. Committing yourself to your child and helping them become their own person are markers of being excellent parents. However, don’t feel pressured to be perfect. Just do your best to nurture, guide, and love them. 

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