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                                                                  Being                          a

                                                                   Bringing up children is both rewarding
                                                                   and challenging
                                                                   Parents often talk about the joys of watching their children
                                                                   grow up but parenting is not always easy. As parents, we must
                                                                   make difficult decisions about how to help our children grow
                                                                   and develop.

                                                                   Being part of a parenting team means that you and your
                                                                   partner share the decisions and responsibilities for bringing
                                                                   up the children.

                                                                   Deciding together how you care for your children includes
                                                                   planning routines, school and leisure activities. It is also about
                                                                   deciding how you, as a parent, will encourage good behaviour
                                                                   and discourage unacceptable behaviour.

                                                                   Balancing your responsibilities is very important. As a father
                                                                   you don’t want to feel that you are the only one responsible for
                                                                   disciplining the children, or that you are left out of the whole

Being a father is your most                                        process altogether.

 important job                                                     It is a good idea to set aside some time to talk with your partner

    There are many different kinds of fathers. You may be          about the following topics:

      in a traditional, nuclear family, a stepfamily, have full
       time care as a sole parent or have your children with
                                                                   •    How will we get everyone involved to celebrate when one
                                                                        of the children has achieved something special?
         you on a regular basis.                                        Why not go to the movies or the arcade together to

          In the past fathers were rarely involved in the day           celebrate a good report?

          to day parenting of their children. They were
           usually the authority figure of the family, setting
                                                                   •    What will we do to help the children develop?
                                                                        You may decide to go swimming on weekends with the
           the rules and applying discipline. Mothers often             children and your partner will take them to after school
           had the role of the caring parent.                           sports. This way, both of you can be involved in their

           The role fathers play in bringing up their children          leisure and achievements.

          has changed in recent years.

         Fathers are now being recognised as carers,
                                                                   •    What sort of discipline will we use?
                                                                        Positive discipline works best, and many tips and ideas are

        role models for their children and part of the                  detailed in the Living with... series of magazines, available

       parenting team.                                                  free of charge. See back page for details.

    With more women in the paid workforce than ever
  before, fathers are becoming involved in day to day family
life and caring for their children.

                                                                  Parenting Line: (08) 9272 1466           1800 654 432 (free for STD callers)
                                                             Time together

                                                                  Sometimes it may feel as if you are left out as a
                                                                  father—mothers still seem to be the focus of most help
                                                                  and support when it comes to bringing up children.

First time fathers                                                If you want to be more involved in the lives of your

Along with the joy of having a new baby parents also have         children, here are some ideas:

doubts about themselves. How will we cope? What will it
    be like? Will we be good parents?
                                                                  •     If you work outside the home during the day:

                    As a new father your regular routines are
                                                                        •    Plan to spend time with your children when
                                                                             you get home from work. Help them with
                         disrupted. Day to day life changes                  their homework, talk with them about their
                              to respond to the needs of                     day or describe what you have been doing.
                                 your baby.

                                     This also means your
                                                                        •    If you are arriving home at bathtime or
                                                                             bedtime your children will be winding
                                       relationship with your                down. Choose calm activities such as
                                        partner will change.                 reading a book together, telling a story or
                                        There will be many                   looking at their work. Save the games for
                                         times of joy with                   during the day.
                                        your new baby but
                                        you will find that you    •     If you care for your children during the day:

                                      have less time to spend
                                    with each other.
                                                                        •    Make time to go to a playgroup with your
                                                                             children. These groups used to be attended
                                                                             by mothers only but that has now changed.
                                 Some new fathers even feel
                                                                             More and more fathers are joining
                             left out or less appreciated than
                                                                             playgroups with their young children.
                        before the baby was born. With
               feeding and caring for the baby taking a
     large part of their time, new mothers
                                                                        •    Playgroups give young children the chance
                                                                             to mix and play with other children. They
understandably often have less time and energy to devote                     also give you the opportunity to talk about
to their partner.                                                            your children and discuss ideas with parents
                                                                             who have children of similar ages.
Fathers need to understand the reason for this. Giving
your support and attention and sharing the care of the
baby will help make things easier. It is also a good way to
get to know your child and learn about being a father.
                                                                                            Fathers & sons
Fathers & daughters
                                                               Your son is observing you closely and copying your
                                                               behaviour in day to day activities. That is how he learns
    As your daughter grows from child to teenager your
                                                               about being a man, male–female relationships,
    relationship with her changes.
                                                               friendships and his role in society. It is important to
    You will always be important to her and she will keep      think about what you would like him to learn.
    needing your love and care. How you express this love
                                                               Society has changed in many ways since you were a boy
    will change as she grows up.
                                                               and your son needs to see that men are now playing
    She may no longer be comfortable with hugs and             their part in caring and nurturing as well as more
    cuddles she enjoyed so much as a child. It is important    traditional responsibilities.
    to respect this as well as your daughter’s increasing
    need for privacy.

    Acting in a caring way, showing interest in what she
    does and using affectionate words and tone of voice
                                                                                   Make time for yourself
    still show that you love her.

                                                               Day to day parenting is a tiring and demanding job.
    Role models                                                You may feel there is never a quiet moment to catch
                                                               your breath—children need to be taken to and picked
    For children, parents are the most important role
                                                               up from school and other activities, they need help
    models. They watch how you act and copy you in their
                                                               with homework or would like you to play with them.
    play and when interacting with their friends.
                                                               Then there is the shopping to do and dinner to cook
    Your daughter is learning about male–female
                                                               and the washing to hang out... It never really ends.
    relationships by watching the way you act. It is
                                                               All of this is part of a parent’s daily tasks but it is very
    important she sees you acting in a caring and respectful
                                                               important that you also make time for yourself.
    way with your partner. She will need plenty of
    examples of good communication to learn about              Ask relatives or friends to babysit so you and your
    positive male–female relationships.                        partner can go out or sleep in. With children you have
                                                               less time to devote to one another but make sure you
                                                               don’t forget to spend some time together.
    Protective fathers                                         Your own emotional, physical and health needs are
    Most fathers are anxious and protective when their         important. Meeting with other parents will give you a
    daughter begins dating. It is normal for her to become     chance to share experiences but it is good to remember
    interested in boys and develop close relationships as      that you have other roles as well as being a parent to
    she grows up to be a young adult. She needs your           your children. Try to make the opportunity to have a
    support rather than heavy vetting of boyfriends.           coffee or lunch out or take up a sport or fitness activity.

    Try to allow your daughter to make her own decisions       Caring for yourself, spending special time with your
    about boyfriends and be ready to listen to her when she    partner and enjoying the company of friends will
    needs someone to talk to.                                  strengthen your relationship with your partner and help
                                                               you be the best father you can be for your children.

Sharing the care of baby makes things easier

Girls and boys need time with their father
                                                 Separation & divorce

                                            If you are going through a separation or divorce you probably
                                            wonder how this will affect the children and how you can help
                                            them through this difficult time.
                                                                                                                            •      Find a balance between outside activities and time at home.
                                                                                                                                   Involve the children in routine activities, give them
                                            The most important things you can do as a father are:
Making time for yourself

                                                                                                                                   responsibilities in your home so they feel they are part of
                                            •    Let your children know that the separation is not their fault.
                                                                                                                                   your household and not visitors.
          Balancing your responsibilities

                                                 Often children blame themselves for the fact that their
                                                 parents are breaking up. It is very important that they                    •      Although it may be tempting try to avoid asking
                                                                                                                                   questions about your children ’s about their other home
                                                 understand it is an issue between your partner and yourself
                                                                                                                                   and their new step parent if they don’t talk about it
                                                 and nothing they have done has caused the separation.
                                                                                                                                   spontaneously. Some children feel torn between the two
                                            •    Make sure they know that you love them and will keep
                                                 loving them despite the separation and the changes it will
                                                                                                                                   households and questioning does not help them settle
                                                                                                                                   into the new situation.
                                                 bring to the family. Explain that you will organise to see
                                                 them regularly if they do not live with you and make sure
                                                 you follow through with that promise.                                                          Remember
                                            Contact visits
                                            If the children don’t usually live with you but visit you regularly,
                                                                                                                            •      When fathers are involved in the day to day care of their
                                                                                                                                   babies it builds special bonds which are important for
                                            it may be helpful to consider the following issues when planning                       children and fathers.
                                            your next contact visit:
                                                                                                                            •      Even if you don’t see your children a lot, you can still build

                                            •    Some non residential parents feel they must make up for                           happy memories together.
                                                 the breakdown of the family by giving presents and money
                                                 to their children. This can sometimes lead to accusations
                                                                                                                            •      While children still have different experiences with their
                                                                                                                                   fathers than with their mothers, the important thing is to be
                                                 about bribing the children and undermining the children’s                         loved by caring adults in their lives.
                                                 new relationship with the step parent.

                                            •    Sometimes children feel bored when they visit—their
                                                                                                                            •      How you act when you are with your children teaches them
                                                                                                                                   how to act when they grow up.
                                                 friends are not around, they don’t have their usual toys or
                                                 books and don’t really feel at home. You may fear you are                  •      Children, as they get older, need to know that you love
                                                                                                                                   them even if they choose different ways to do things.
                                                 losing their affection and try to make up for it with
                                                 expensive outings and presents.
                                                                                                                            •      Share your ideas about parenting with the children’s mother
                                                                                                                                   if possible. Listen to hers.
                                            There are some things you can do to make contact visits with
                                            your children more successful:
                                                                                                                            For more information
                                            •    Help your children feel more at home by organising their
                                                 own place to sleep and space where they can keep books,                    Living with babies, Living with toddlers, Living with children, Living
                                                 toys and other possessions in your home.                                   with teenagers and Living with stepfamilies are available free of
                                                                                                                            charge from Parenting Information Centres or by telephoning the
                                            •    Plan activities for the contact visits. These don’t need to be
                                                 extravagant. Footy in the park, swimming or playing a
                                                                                                                            Parenting Line on (08) 9272 1466 or
                                                                                                                            1800 654 432 (free for STD callers).
                                                 board game together are good ideas. What children need is
                                                                                                                            The videos Living with babies, Living with toddlers, Living
                                                 your time, company and attention to know they are still
                                                                                                                            with children, Living with teenagers and Living with stepfamilies
                                                 important people in your life.
                                                                                                                            can be borrowed by calling the Parenting Line and from all
                                                                                                                            public libraries.

                                                                                                                            On the internet:

              Produced by Family and Children’s Services, Government of Western Australia.
              This fact sheet was written by Claire Halsey, clinical psychologist at Family and Children’s Services and includes
              material from Being a dad, Parent Easy Guide #26, Parenting SA, Government of South Australia.

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