What Children Need from Their Dads

James Forrest and his beautiful children on a quadbike

Credit: James Forrest and family

Children need to be accepted and supported as individuals regardless of their academic success, physical ability, sporting prowess, personality, moods, morals or beliefs. This acceptance is often difficult for high-achieving fathers.

They need unconditional love.

They need to be liked and valued as special and valuable people. This is different from being loved – love is not enough.

Children need to know that they are liked, that you are interested in their thoughts, ideas and opinions, their appearance and their beliefs.

Children don’t need much economic security, but they do need to feel physically and emotionally safe. They need to know 100 percent for sure that neither of their parents will put them down or hurt them.

They need a clear sense of our values, rules, hopes and beliefs about life so that they have a roadmap for their early life and boundaries for their behaviour until they are old enough to choose their own.

These things need to be both spoken and modelled. Words without actions and actions without words create uncertainty and confusion.

You can’t pass the buck to their teachers or their mother – if you are available but you don’t do what a dad should do, there will be a gap in their lives.

Idea for action: Each week schedule one thing to try to meet one of these needs.

“I almost view with contempt this notion of quality time. I think it’s just a baby-boomer cop-out. To have quality time you’ve got to have quantity time, because you never know when your kids want to talk to you. You can’t appoint a time for quality chats. I’ve found in my relationship with my children that sometimes just out of the blue they’ll want to talk, whereas at other times they prefer to wait.” – John Howard

“One big change I made to my life when I realised what it took to be a good father was to work less, and also to work from home more often. Now I only work a four-day week and I run my computing service from home. This is important because my wife works, and really we have to share the parenting time.” -Peter de Blanc


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