Always make time to answer your child’s questions. This is one of the key foundations of your relationship through the years to come.

If your child asks a question, it is because he wants to know the answer. Of course depending on the age of your child, you respond appropriately, but never brush off their question as not being important. The fact that your child asks you a question, shows that he is curious. He has a desire to discover the world he is growing up in and has a need to interact with you and have you do it with him. The question is important to your child based upon his current points of reference, or he would not have asked it

He will value your undivided attention so much, which will become evident in later years, when you ask him a question, or need an answer. He will give it to you, because that has always been the way you have treated him. As his father, you lead by example.

It is at a very early age that you should set the ground rules for the quality of communication between you and your children. This will determine what happens throughout their whole childhood. If you get this right, at the start of their lives, it will reap immeasurable benefits for the quality of your relationship together in later years. This will be very evident during the teenage years, when the challenges are very different, and can sometimes seem insurmountable for both of you.

Think of the amount of times you have heard other fathers say to their child “ask me later”, or “go and ask your mother”. By doing this, you are sending a subliminal message to your child. ‘I do not have time for you right now’, or ‘I’m not interested in what you want to know’, or even ‘it doesn’t concern me’. Potentially this can be the start of the construction of subconscious barriers to communication with your child, which as he gets older will be very hard to overcome.

So, stop whatever you are doing, or at least as soon as it is safe to do so, and listen carefully to the question. Then answer it honestly. You both will reap the benefits of this approach right through to your child’s adulthood………………… and beyond!

 

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Exactly how important do you think it is to be a good Father to your children? Even more than just ‘vital’ if that is possible, as you will see!

You as a Father made several choices, many of them unconscious, before and when you finally decided, together with your partner, to have children. It was to become a complete change in your life and certainly will have turned out to be just that. Exactly how involved you are in your child’s life, will determine inextricably what kind of person he/she will become. Your children are what you make them into and this is a responsibility that is absolutely enormous.

The relationship between parents and their children, within the family unit, underpins the whole fabric of our society. So many ills in it can be directly linked to problems within the family unit. Very often this will be because of an absentee Father in the household. This can be for a variety of reasons, some of which can be out of the his control. If however the relationship is strong and stable, it will have a positive effect for many years into the future. A close and loving dynamic will benefit you, your child and society in general. If you are to get the most out of being a Father, you have to be prepared to take on every aspect of the job, however challenging it is, and be involved 100% in every area of your child’s life. If you do this and are totally committed to being the best dad possible to your children, it will be the most rewarding thing that you will ever have experienced.

“Great Dads make for Great Children and Great Children make for a very Happy life for everyone”. This has always been my motto, and anyone who is involved with children will know this is true.

Thank you for reading this Blog as it means you really care. I have written a book called ‘Help I’m a Father’ which talks all about this relationship and is full of really useful tips and advice. It is available through Amazon and all Royalties are being donated to sick and underprivileged children’s charities to help improve their lives.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try……try…..and try again!” If your child wants it badly enough encourage her not to give up.

Sharing and experiencing your child’s proudest moments will be very rewarding for you both. For example, if your daughter is in a Talent Show at school, try to be there to see her perform. Or if she is in a Sports team and it is a special occasion such as a final, always make the effort to be present. In fact, even for regular school matches, you should try to support your child as often as possible. If her team loses and she doesn’t do as well as she had hoped in the match, you will be there to support her through her disappointment. You can use situations like these to help your child understand and accept that in life you will not always succeed.

I always remember what my mother said to me when I was a child and have used it so often with my own children. It is as true today as the first time I ever heard it. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again”.

This philosophy will help your child hugely as she embarks on the journey of life, as she grows up and goes her own way. Tell her about things that didn’t work out for you and how you never gave up, but moved on and achieved something different. For example it could have been a University which rejected your degree application, or an unsuccessful job interview. But you ended up going to a different place and had an amazing time there anyway. Some things just don’t go to plan and work out differently to how you wanted and imagined it. Your child needs to understand that life can be like this.

But if it is a specific goal she wants to achieve, you can help her keep aiming for it and suggest a different route to achieving it. There are always several ways to succeed, it just may not be the route she originally thought it would be. This is where your guidance, support and encouragement are vital and she will value you so much for this for many years to come.

What do you do when honesty might hurt your child? An eternal parental dilemma but it all depends on his age.

As a father and a parent, you will never want to hurt your child, but sometimes if you tell them things as they really are, they will get upset and the effects may even last for sometime. Occasionally a ‘white lie’ is acceptable if it is done to protect your child from something, particularly if they are not yet at an age when they can understand the full consequences of it. However, you should always try to be honest with your children and never lie to them on serious issues.

Sometimes it is very difficult to stick to this guideline, but remember that your children deserve you to treat them correctly. It doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is of your ‘white lie’, but your judgement of the situation will determine if it is the correct course of action. If your child is a toddler or under five and his grand mother passes away, you might tell him that ‘nanna has gone to a special place with the angels’.

If however he has been at primary school for a few years he will be starting to learn about the human life cycle and that we are born and we eventually die. You may make a judgement call in this instance and tell him the truth but couch it in more direct gentle terms like ‘nanna passed away peacefully in her sleep and has gone to heaven’. So how you communicate with your child will very definitely be relative to your child’s age and his ability to comprehend life events like this.

If however you do lie to him even on a subject as serious as this and he finds out, it will send the message that this is an acceptable form of behaviour. Remember, at all times your child will look up to you and copy your behaviour, so he will need you to handle a situation like this in the correct way. He will remember how you do this for many years to come.

How can you stay close to your Teenager as your relationship changes? It is a real challenge.

When your child becomes a teenager, the dynamics of your relationship changes dramatically, so you need to evolve and become a different kind of role model. He will be mixing with a wide variety of individuals independently of you and it is important that you remain consistent in how you behave towards him. ‘Work hard … play hard’, is a very important philosophy you need to get through to your teenager, and to do this, you must lead by example.

As he will be trying new things during these years and following your example (where it suits him of course) try to avoid doing anything to excess yourself. While he needs to understand that he can enjoy himself, this must be linked to working hard, particularly at school. Therefore, he needs to see the example of ‘normal acceptable behaviour’ coming from his father.

It is vitally important that your child feels he can still communicate with you openly while he is a teenager. So this will be one of your biggest challenges during the next few years. So keeping all lines of communication open between you both is vital, and will influence strongly how your relationship with him develops. However difficult and awkward the subject is, you can never have a ‘bad conversation’ with your child, only a good one, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. With all the challenges facing him during this period of his life, this is where you will really benefit from the investment in time and effort you made with him during his earlier years.

It is during that period where you have laid the foundations, to allow you to stay connected during the extremely challenging times ahead of you. Your child is still very vulnerable when he is a teenager, but he neither believes nor realises this, and he will get sick of hearing you telling him this. He will be rebellious and very difficult to manage at times, so, your role really is to guide him through this stage of his life. Don’t worry, he will come out the other side, every child does, and hopefully with a sense of independence and respect for you, his mother, as well as other people. He will need this sense of value and perspective when he becomes an adult.

Have fun with your baby right from the start. Even the mundane things can be a huge enjoyment for you both…..

Don’t be afraid to change your baby’s nappies right from the very first time she arrives home. Make it a fun time as well, by singing little songs, or tickling your baby’s feet or tummy while you do it. Subconscious bonding occurs while you do this, as she smiles at you, and you smile back at her. Each time you do this, you are reinforcing the link and love between you. Such a mundane yet intimate task as changing a nappy, lays the seeds for a very strong and involved relationship between you and your child as she grows up.

Whenever possible, try to be present for every bath time. Get used to holding your baby in the water, while you wash her. This will give you the confidence to handle her in a potentially dangerous situation, and create trust between you and your baby. It will be another reinforcement for your growing bond together as well.

Make sure you make bath time fun. This is a part of the day that you and your baby can really enjoy. Once the job of being washed is out the way, serious play time can begin, even when your baby is very small. Always keep little floating ducks or balls in the bathroom that she can push around the bath. When she is so small, you should always hold her very firmly with one hand.

Let her splash you while you pretend to be shocked. Your baby will love the staged expressions on your face as you get wet.

To avoid mishaps with your baby, always check first with your partner when you get home. If you don’t, who knows what can happen…………..but always keep it in perspective.

In my excitement to see my children after a day at work, I almost always forgot to ask whether they had been winded after their evening feed. In my enthusiasm for a cuddle it caused many accidents, many of which were totally unexpected.

One Friday evening I came home after a day at work and picked up our daughter. As usual, I didn’t ask my wife any questions, put her on my shoulder, where she promptly vomited all down the back of my jacket. It was Friday, so I was pretty relaxed and just changed it. My wife and I were going to neighbours for drinks, the babysitter had arrived and with a new jacket on, off we went.

After 45 minutes of hugs and hellos we were chatting to a group of friends when suddenly one said, “Mark, what the heck’s that on your trousers?” You guessed it, my little princess had puked right down my trouser legs too and I hadn’t noticed. At that moment everyone worked out what the unusual smell had been (I think the parents of babies become immune to the scent of milky vomit) and a bit of ribbing and exaggerated gagging ensued for the rest of the evening.

It’s a fact, babies will be sick on you. Of course, this may mean you have to take your stuff to the dry cleaners, but who cares. Your child didn’t do it on purpose, even if she is smiling at you and has that unspoken look on her face ‘caught you out there dad didn’t I?’ She certainly didn’t have any ulterior motives for doing it, so don’t blow it out of perspective.

It’s not worth getting upset or annoyed when this happens. It will happen to you many times, but in the end, it is always worthwhile when you see your child’s little smile after she has got rid of the wind in her tummy.

It is possible to amuse your Toddlers whilst stuck in the car and avoid stress for all the family. Try these games and distractions and enjoy the ride.

Playing games in the car will normally stop your child getting bored and agitated. A good one that you can play with him, is ‘the snooker game’. You ask him to spot the colours of cars in the order of the balls played in a game of snooker. You start with white, then a red, then yellow, and all the way up to black. Have you ever noticed how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are hardly any pink ones at all. You can keep this game going for as long as you need to. It will keep your child amused for a long while, as well as distracting you.

Another game you can play is looking for the type or make of car. For example a Volkswagen Beetle, or an Aston Martin DB9. If you want the game to last a little longer for your child, then choose a rare type of car. If you want your child to find it quickly, choose a more popular model. There are many variations on this theme that you can use depending on how creative you want to be. For example, it could be marques of lorries, buses, vans or even caravans and trailers.

If you prefer to play more educational games with your child, you can play ‘Capital cities of the world’. This game is both interesting and educational for you and your child and keeps him focussed on fun learning instead of getting frustrated because he is bored in the car. Start with very easy ones such as the Capital city of England or Scotland. You call out the country and your child has to guess its Capital city. Once he gets used to some of the answers, you can progress to other more difficult ones from European or South American countries. You will be amazed just how much knowledge your child will pick up and retain.

As you know, the car can be a very challenging environment with your small child. Occasionally if the games don’t work, you can start singing songs together. This will work well for you and can be used as a means of passing time between two points on the road. If it is fifteen minutes until your exit, you can devise a game for all of you to sing songs, one after the other and you can all give marks out of ten. For example, between two junctions on a Motorway, suggest to everyone in the car to sing an agreed song or nursery rhyme, until the second junction is reached. There must be no exceptions, and everyone must join in. Let your child choose the song as soon as the one you have chosen is finished.

You will see that time passes very quickly like this and it is very good for strengthening bonds between you and your child. It also reinforces your child’s sense of doing fun things with you. Remember you want to have really good fun with your child, and that is an important part of your relationship together! For example, while going under the Dartford Tunnel, you and your child could sing “10 little ducks went swimming one day”. The goal would be to finish the song exactly at the moment when you leave the tunnel. Your child will be enthralled.

You can also invent stories to tell to your child in the car. He will be captivated. For example, you could invent a story about ‘The Wicked Witch of Gott’ (this is a totally made up name). She is an old witch who sits at her window watching the children go to school. If somebody pulls a face at her, she will cast a spell and that face would become permanent on the child who pulled it. You can only get your normal face back if you go up to the Witch’s house and apologise to the Witch in person (nobody wanted to do that). The only other way to get your normal face back is if the wind changes direction. You can adapt this story with different characters and draw it out or shorten it depending on the length of time you are in the car. This will be subconsciously teaching your child to be polite and not to pull faces at people, also to respect others who are different.

Your child will love stories which are told by you, so you can be very creative with them. For example, you could invent one about a family of dinosaurs and its prehistoric adventures, with each dinosaur representing one member of your family. You can let your Toddler choose who is what dinosaur, then you can recount a story which you can make up as you go along. If you let your child choose who you are, you might find that you always end up being the Brontosaurus! I wonder why……

Don’t ignore your child’s questions, even if it is uncomfortable to answer them. Every one is important to your child.

If your child asks a question, it is because he wants to know the answer. Of course depending on the age of your child, you respond appropriately, but never brush off their question as not being important. The fact that your child asks you a question, shows that he is curious. He has a desire to discover the world he is growing up in and a need to interact with you and you with him. The question is important to your child based upon his current points of reference, or he would not have asked it

He will value your undivided attention so much, which will become evident in later years, when you ask him a question, or need an answer. He will give it to you, because that has always been the way you have treated him. As his father, you lead by example.

It is at a very early age that you should set the ground rules for the quality of communication between you and your children. This will determine what happens throughout their whole childhood. If you get this right, at the start of their lives, it will reap immeasurable benefits for the quality of your relationship together in later years. This will be very evident during their teenage years, when the challenges are very different, and can sometimes seem insurmountable for both of you.

Think of the amount of times you have heard fathers say to their child “ask me later”, or “go and ask your mother”. By doing this, you are sending a subliminal message to your child. ‘I do not have time for you right now’, or ‘I’m not interested in what you want to know’, or even ‘it doesn’t concern me’. Potentially this can be the start of the construction of subconscious barriers to communication with your child, which as he gets older will be very hard to overcome and could lead to serious consequences in later years.

My Book ‘Help I’m a Father’ has just been Published

As you know, I have been writing a Blog for many months now and I will be continuing it. I really enjoy the interaction I have built up with you all as Followers and I really value the feedback that you give me. But I have also written a book of the same title ‘Help I’m a Father’, which I’m delighted to tell you has just been published.

I decided to self publish it, as I could not get a fair deal from a Publishing company. So it is now available to buy on Amazon Kindle as an e-book. It will be available as a paperback this coming week. If you have enjoyed reading my Blog, there are many more tips and anecdotes in my Book. In fact you can dip in and out of it depending on the specific situation you are in with your children and hopefully it can provide you with some options.

Like in my Blog, I do not claim to have all the answers, or not to have made mistakes along the way with my own children, but the importance of a Father to his children can never be underestimated. An involved and committed Father makes for well balanced and rounded children and that has to be the ultimate goal of all parents.