Before you read any further, take a minute to write down up to five things a dad needs to succeed in fatherhood. Then read the rest of this post.
Does your list include the following two things?
- Pro-fathering habits
If your list doesn’t include them, don’t worry. Your list undoubtedly includes several things a dad needs to succeed. Still, if your list doesn’t include those two things, add them right now. Here’s why.
Being the best dad possible requires a positive self-concept and positive self-esteem about who a dad is as a man and dad. A man’s self-concept is formed by the messages he receives and the thoughts he has about himself as a man generally and as a dad specifically. His self-esteem is affected by the feelings has about himself as a man generally and as a dad specifically. Together, they form his overall and dad-specific self-worth.
Your role in working with a dad is to help him build his self-worth. That’s because self-worth informs and guides his behavior.
How do you build his self-worth? Depending on a dad’s current level of self-worth and his background and current situation, you might need to employ a number of tactics (e.g. job training, treatment for alcohol or substance abuse, and treatment for his own abuse and neglect at the hands of others). Regardless, however, building his self-worth is where your role in helping a dad develop pro-fathering habits comes in.
A habit is: “An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it becomes almost involuntary.”
A pro-fathering habit is a pattern of behavior that a dad can apply regularly enough to the point that he doesn’t have to think about doing it. The pattern of behavior is second nature.
To form good habits, and avoid bad ones, a person needs three things:
- Knowledge, or the “what to do”
- Skill, or the “how to do”
- Desire, or the “want to do”
To help a dad build pro-fathering habits, then, you need to help him acquire three things:
- Pro-fathering knowledge
- Pro-fathering skills
- Pro-fathering attitudes
When a dad acquires those three things, he has a foundation from which the two of you can work together to identify pro-fathering habits that are realistic for him to apply so that he’s set up for success rather than failure. After all, each dad presents with some unique challenges in being the best dad possible. Don’t ask him to engage in pro-fathering behavior that’s unrealistic given his current situation.
- Train you on the use of our programs.
- Help you plan for success.
- Share examples of work going on around the country from which you can learn.
- Connect you to others doing this vital work.
It’s your job to implement what we provide—and you learn from others and us—within an array of programs, services, and resources that work best in your setting and for the dads you serve.
Let’s start or continue to partner for the good of dads, moms, children, and families in your community.
In what ways do you help a dad develop self-worth and pro-fathering habits?
Have you joined and participated in the Father Engagement Learning Community so you can connect with and learn from others?