Your child’s character development will be shaped by many factors. One of the most important is the influence of parents. Before you start thinking about how to build your child’s character, think about building a strong relationship because that’s the source of your influence. A good father-child relationship is not a guarantee. It doesn’t ensure that your children will turn out exactly as you hoped, that they will always do what you ask or that you will always be happy with their behaviour. However, good relationships with our kids are the basis for much of what we can accomplish as fathers. Here’s why.
When we’re talking about fathers helping to build character in children, we’re really talking about being a good parent. No matter what specific strategies or discipline techniques parents use, what ties it all together is effective all-round parenting, and that starts with a solid parent-child connection.
Knowing your child
Every child is different. They don’t all respond to exactly the same kind of teaching and discipline. Children also change constantly as they grow. Maintaining a strong relationship helps you stay in touch with your child’s changing needs and abilities, so that you can provide the kind of support and guidance he needs.
Smoothing out the bumps
Children can be hard to understand at times. Fathers and their kids sometimes go through periods when they don’t get along very well or have trouble finding ways to connect. In other words, being a good dad is sometimes hard work. A strong relationship, one where you and your child feel closely connected and enjoy each other, provides one of the payoffs. That helps you get through the tough times, enjoy the good times and ensures that you’ll do your best, no matter what.
What your relationship does for your child
Not only does a strong, caring relationship help you relate to your children, it helps them relate to you. When your kids feel strongly connected to you they are more likely to:
- feel understood;
- care about what you think of their behaviour;
- listen to what you tell them;
- understand that you have their best interests in mind;
- accept your authority;
- get over being upset with you;
- trust you enough to share their problems.
Watch for part 2 coming soon.
But if you can’t wait, check out this booklet: Kids We Can Count On – a father’s guide to building character in children.