This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

To me Father’s Day is one of the best days of the year! I always see it as an opportunity for me to celebrate the blessing of fatherhood by doing something fun with my kids. From going fishing with my son for the first time to camping to going to the Lego store together we’ve had lots of good Father’s Day memories and I’m looking forward to making more this year!

In addition to my love for being a dad, I also have a passion for engaging with other dads: encouraging and supporting each other on this journey as we strive to do the very best for our kids. So this Father’s Day, I wanted to write about a few things that I have learned that have really helped me be a better dad and that I want to share with all the dads (and any parent!) out there.

Presence – Being present and engaged with my kids is one of the best gifts I can give them. They love their toys and going out to do fun things, but over and over again what I’ve seen they crave the most is my attention and love and knowing that I am there with them in that moment. I’ve got to be honest, this can be very difficult to give some times, but I have noticed that my kids and I are so much closer and they enjoy life more when I give them my full attention.

Modeling – Kids see and understand so much more than we give them credit for and they are watching our every move to see if what we say matches what we do. If we want them to apologize when they make mistakes we have to show them how by doing the same. They will follow our lead in how they treat and talk to other people. They will follow our lead in how they treat and talk to themselves. We can have a profound impact on their self-esteem simply by modeling how we take care of ourselves.

Love – Telling them, showing them and finding out what makes them feel loved. Kids need to hear affirmations over and over again and they experience that love and affirmation in different ways. Really take the time to get to know your child and what makes them feel happy and safe. You’ll find that the act of trying to get to know them more and what they are passionate about is often one of the best ways to show them how much you love and care for them.

I hope you enjoy your Father’s Day with your children and wish you all the best as you continue your parenting journey.

This is fatherhood…