Let’s not kid ourselves, parenting is tough and it’s a commitment. You may be thinking to yourself right now that the entire prospect of being a parent is terrifying! It’s normal to feel that way. Even for those people who want children and who are trying to become pregnant, it is still scary. The secret is that no matter how much you “prepare” or “get ready” to become a parent, you are never really prepared or ready because it’s impossible to know what to expect or how you’ll feel the day that child arrives.
The good news is that being a great dad, or a great parent, doesn’t take as much effort as you might think. It’s actually quite simple.
- Be there
You may be surprised to hear that a child’s needs are very basic, particularly in the beginning. They need food, safe shelter, sleep, and a clean bum. That’s it. Providing all of those things via bathing, diaper changes and bottle feedings helps the baby develop a bond with its parent(s). You don’t need to do all these things all the time to form that bond either. Just being there to help out is enough.
- Making time
As your child grows into his or her toddler years, (which are after the age of one) they get mobile and begin to explore the world around them – for some this could start before the first year of age. Helping them explore is important. You can help them feel new things with their hands (soft blankets, rough toys) to aid in their understanding of their environment. Sometimes just lying on the ground and making yourself available as a climbing apparatus is the ticket.
- Use your words
Children, even babies, need you to talk to them. Whether or not they can speak in return is inconsequential. You can read them books, narrate a play-by-play of a diaper change, or sing them your favorite song. Your words help them learn the language and develop an understanding of tones.
- Play time
Kids learn best by playing. Not only will your child learn appropriate social skills through play, they will also learn coordination, language skills and gain a better understanding of their environment. Do simple things too. Blow bubbles, sing songs, stack blocks, and play hide and seek.
- Be there
We already said this, didn’t we? Well it’s for good reason. Your presence is more important than how much money you have, the job you have or don’t have, or how luxurious their life is or isn’t. It is just as important for you to be in your child’s life when they are older as it is when they are first born. Knowing you helps them know themselves, and they take their value and love from your actions. Whether you pick them up from school, are there to ground them when they need it, or make dinner every night, your presence and actions will frame their lives.
Being a parent may be scary at first, and difficult at the best of times, but it is the most worthwhile pursuit you will ever have.