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Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
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September 2, 2009

Life Is A Stage And Your Children Are The Audience: How Fathers Can Be Good Role Models

American society puts a lot of emphasis on the behavior of famous athletes, movie stars and musicians, as they are often the most popular role models for children. But while kids spend a lot of time watching these celebrities on T.V. and listening to their music, there is another figure who’s behavior has an even greater influence on their lives. Fathers are responsible for teaching their children good values and making sure they practice what they preach. While celebrities have paparazzi waiting to chronicle their every slip up, fathers have their children who emulate their behavior. By thinking of life as a stage where children watch every action, fathers can begin to impart positive values.

“By being a good role model, fathers have the ability to impact not only how their children behave in their developmental years, but also their behavior as adults,” said Rich Batten, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Good habits like a healthy lifestyle and love of learning are the things that are adopted by children from observing the actions of their parents.”

Fathers can be role models for their children in a variety of ways. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility. The National Fatherhood Initiative suggests the following ways for fathers to impart positive lessons onto their children:

Respect Your Children's Mother. One of the best things a father can do for his children is to respect their mother. A father and mother who respect each other, and let their children know it, provide a secure environment for them. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected.

Spend Time with Your Children. How a father spends his time tells his children what's important to him. If you always seem to busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Missed opportunities are forever lost.

Earn the Right to Be Heard. All too often the only time a father speaks to his children is when they have done something wrong. That's why so many children cringe when their mother says, "Your father wants to talk with you." Begin talking with your kids when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time and listen to their ideas and problems.

Discipline with Love. All children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.

Be a Teacher. Too many fathers think teaching is something others do. But a father who teaches his children about right and wrong and encourages them to do their best, will see his children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life.

Eat Together as a Family. Sharing a meal together can be an important part of healthy family life. In addition to providing some structure in a busy day, it gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and give advice. Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day.

Read to Your Children. In a world where television often dominates the lives of children, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Children learn best by doing and reading, as well as seeing and hearing. Begin reading to your children when they are very young. When they are older encourage them to read on their own. Instilling your children with a love for reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of personal and career growth.

Show Affection. Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted and loved by their family. Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection everyday is the best way to let your children know that you love them.

Realize that a Father's Job Is Never Done. Even after children are grown and ready to leave home, they will still look to their fathers for wisdom and advice. Whether it's continued schooling, a new job or a wedding, fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to State, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.