fbpx How to be a good father? | I Love Children


By Alexandra Khoo

Fathering has taken on a different meaning in the 21st century. Besides bringing home the bacon, fathers would also like to be more involved with their children.


A father who is able to apply the saying: “Know thyself before knowing others” to himself before he plunges headlong into parenting is already halfway towards achieving a winning fathering formula. The other half, of course, is pure effort and being engaged in his children’s daily lives.


Fathering Styles

Stephen Poulter says in his book “The Father Factor”, that there are five fundamental fathering styles, namely: super-achiever, time bomb, passive father, absent father, compassionate/mentor, out of which one will predominate.


The first four fathering styles, which have a negative effect on parenting ways, help men become more aware of their own personalities and shortcomings. The fifth compassionate/mentor style is the best to adopt as it combines both intelligence and a wise teacher approach, which will make their children feel that their dads hold them as number one priority, and in turn fathers are more willing than not to do all that it takes to raise their children properly.


Those who see themselves reflected adopting the first four styles should take steps to add compassion and mentoring to their parenting approach.


Mr Lau Tat Chuan, director at Centre for Fathering Singapore (CFF), shares a model that originated from the National Centre for Fathering (NCF) in the USA. The model explores the dual dimensions of a father’s control and warmth in his parenting style and points men towards adopting a more positive, authoritative style. In workshops, CFF also uses NCF’s paper-based self-assessment, the Personal Fathering Profile (PFP), to help fathers to receive inputs on other dimensions of his parenting style and how he can make behavioural changes to become more effective.


Mr Lau says: “In order to become an effective parent, do an honest self-assessment. After obtaining the results, seek feedback by talking with your spouse or friends. Reflect on the insights gained and make plans for improvement. The data gathered will help you better analyse your interactions with your own children and provides some level of objectivity that contributes to making positive behavioural changes in a sensitive and emotional area of your life.”


Traits Of A Successful Father

“Attributes of an effective or successful father include an ability to observe and appreciate the uniqueness of his child, willingness to learn from the interactions and to make the necessary adjustments to cater to his child’s needs, and the ability to change his fathering approach as his child grows,” shares Mr Lau.


Successful fathers:

  • Set family rules – Setting and living by family rules enable fathers to shape their children into responsible adults with the correct values.
  • Communicate regularly and effectively – Conversations can be light hearted, serious, positive or negative. The key is to communicate with the heart instead of being distracted by handheld devices or the television. This is the building block for more sensitive and critical conversations with your child as he grows.
  • Spend one-on-one time – Quality time spent individually with each child builds the relationship, e.g. establishing monthly individual meetings with each child to talk about their current concerns, interests, goals, successes, or fears. Going out on a date with each child to do something he likes or playing a sport together are good ways to spend one-on-one quality time.
  • Do not spoil the kids – Children are taught to develop unrealistic expectations of life if they get everything that they want. Learning delayed gratification and the value of saving for a desired item is important in developing responsible adults.
  • Show love – Every child has different needs in the way they prefer to experience love. Tailor your affections to each child to make them feel more loved.
  • Get to know the children’s friends – Opening your home to your children’s friends help you know whether their influence on your children is positive or negative.
  • Protect – Danger lurks in real life as well as in the cyber world. Teach your child values and how to say no. This prepares them to avoid risks to their well-being and help them become responsible and self-reliant adults.


About Discipline

Discipline is part and parcel of parenting. “A child’s personality will reveal itself more fully as he grows older. However, there are general principles of effective discipline that a father needs in his parenting toolbox, especially if he is a first-time dad.” shares Mr Lau.


Some disciplinary techniques include:

  • Explanation – Verbal instruction on what you want him to do helps him develop good judgement.
  • Positive reinforcement – Parental attention that reinforces good and not bad behaviours.
  • Redirection – The act of redirecting a child towards good and appropriate behaviour.
  • 5-minute time-outs – Sending a child to a corner, away from the problem area for some quiet time and reflection
  • Rules – State your rules and the possible consequences, like grounding or removal of privileges.

“A father’s personality and background experiences will also have some influence on his approach to disciplining. He needs to be open, be aware, and seek feedback in order to change direction if necessary – for the sake of his children's well-being,” says Mr Lau.



What research findings say...
  1. A father is more likely to spend time and be involved with his children when he has a good relationship with his partner and does not speak ill of her. Their children are also more likely to be healthier: psychologically and emotionally.
  2. Involved, nurturing, and playful fathers have children with higher IQs, and better cognitive and linguistic capacities. Toddlers with involved fathers start school with better academic readiness are more patient, and can handle stresses and frustrations better.
  3. Infants are more likely to be emotionally secure and comfortable with exploring his surroundings, and dealing with brief separations when they have responsive and affectionate fathers.
  4. Fathers spend more time on one-on-one play than do mothers. This helps the child develop socially and emotionally as he learns to regulate his behaviours and feelings.
  5. Fathers focus on independence, achievement, and survival in the outside world, while mothers nurture and connect emotionally with their children. A good balance of both contributes to a child’s healthy development.


“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”


- William Shakespeare


Maybe Baby thanks Mr Lau Tat Chuan, Director, Centre for Fathering, for his input in this article.

Other relevant articles


Have something to ask?

Come talk to us!