The importance of fathers as role models to their children

A father and father figure’s influence can last a lifetime. What you say and do now, will shape your children’s attitudes, how they behave, and the decisions they make as they move through their journey to adulthood.

As fathers and father figures, it’s important to realise that your children are watching and listening to everything you say and do when you are around them.

Whether you live in the same household, see them every other week, or on the weekends, they are watching.

Your children will look to you for advice, encouragement, but also as an example of how to tackle the many challenges of life. You teach your children not only by sitting them down and talking them through issues, but by modelling your own responses to these situations. Your goal is for your child to get to the point where they can just think to themselves ‘WWDD – what would dad do?’ and come to the solution on their own.

As a parent, it is impossible to not model. Your children will see your example – positive or negative – as a pattern for the way life is to be lived.

Top Tips to be an impactful role model

  1. Use the words you want your children to use. Take note of the way you speak to them and to others, what you speak about, and the opinions you express, as this will also influence their values as they grow older. For example, does your tone of voice and words indicate respect for others or subtly show lack of acceptance.
  2. Role model how you solve problems and make choices. Explain the process you went through to your children. This shows them about how to deal with problems in a calm and productive way. Where possible, try not to get upset or angry in front of them.
  3. Lead by example. Your children learn from seeing how you handle the good and the bad in your life. For example, fess up if you’ve done something wrong, and admit your mistakes. Talk about what you might do differently to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
  4. Keep a positive attitude. This can be a hard one, but it’s really important. Think, act and talk in an optimistic way. This shows your children even through the hard times, we keep moving forward and we can still try to find the good even in a bad situation.
  5. Show your children how you want them to behave through your behaviours. For example, be forgiving of mistakes – everyone makes mistakes, how you handle them is important. Are you unforgiving or accepting? Are you calm or berate the perpetrator?
  6. Be affectionate and role model what loving relationships and feel like. 
  1. Think about adult only conversations. Try to avoid discussions that may be upsetting or inappropriate for children, where they can hear.
Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr. Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support, and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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