Earlier this week, a female friend from Cincinnati called and asked me to write a blog encouraging more Black fathers to become involved in the lives of their children. I noted the manner in which she made her request and appreciated it very much because she was careful to balance constructive criticism of some Black fathers with compliments she also felt they deserve.

For instance, she acknowledged that her male partner as well as the father of her own child spends a significant quantity of time with their respective daughters although both men are still learning how to make it quality time, too. She also mentioned that both fathers contribute to the financial support of their child. Clearly then, the problem isn’t that these fathers aren’t doing anything, but that they should be doing more.

The more that those two fathers, and every other father, should be doing are the things that matter most. Indeed, they are the kinds of things that transform mere breadwinners into great fathers who truly understand that, while meeting the material needs of their children is absolutely essential, no child can live life to the fullest on such bread alone. It’s also rooted in the realization that, instead of healing all wounds, time with their children can open all sorts of wounds, if it’s not time well spent.

It is for such compelling reasons that, as a fellow father with children ages 21, 16 and 14, I encourage all fathers to follow sound advice like the following: Be good for your children, and not just good to them. Be there for your children, and not just around them. Don’t just make babies, but do everything within your power to make a positive difference throughout their lives.

Moreover, speak the truth in love. In other words, guide your children with a compassionate, gentle and even hand. Neither be insensitive or too harsh when you discipline them nor indulgent or indifferent when they require parental insight and intervention. Exhibit true strength by serving their best interest, and maintain your parental authority not through brute or barbaric force, but by exemplifying the way in which your children should go rather than just lecturing them about it.

It’s just as important to respect the mother of your child or children. Whether you and the mother are a couple or not, always be courteous and kind to her, not only because she’s the mother, but also because she’s a human being. Besides, this is first and greatest impact relationship to which your children most likely will be exposed. Teach them what’s right by treating the mother right.

Never give yourself any excuse for resorting to aggression or abuse, and don’t disrespect people even if you dislike and disagree with them. For the sake of your children as well as your character, always give the best of yourself, especially during the worst of times. In fact, the manner in which you involve yourself in any relationship or friendship should be as good for your children as it is for you.

Stay intimately involved in the lives of your children, sustaining and strengthening the greatest partnership any father could have. Learn to relax and play and tease with them, but also embrace them with the purest of love and nurture them with the purest of intentions. Affect their lives by being affectionate, and prove that you care by being there to support them with your actual presence and participation in every aspect of their lives.

Communicate your concerns to them, but also listen closely and respond wisely and lovingly when they open up to you. Be sensitive and responsive to your children’s emotional needs; for such kindness isn’t a weakness, but one of your greatest strengths. Allow yourself to experience the full and complete joy of parenting along with the every other feeling and emotion to which you will be subject as a father who truly cares.

Parent your children for freedom. Don’t raise them to only rely on you, and don’t direct them in ways that only make them more and more dependent on others with each passing year of their lives. Teach them to think for themselves, to be themselves, and to do for themselves. Secure for them the kinds of educational and sociocultural experiences that will gradually prepare them to excel in the adult world. You certainly should not rob them of their childhood, but neither should merely having fun be such a focus that they only learn to amuse themselves to death.

Freedom without restraints puts one in bondage to excess, so be sure to set reasonable boundaries for your children. Be as clear as possible when letting them know what you deem to be appropriate behavior and as consistent as possible in your recognition and reinforcement of this behavior. It shouldn’t be a secret to your children that you’re flexible on some matters because, like every other human being, you “know in part.” But there must be a fundamental and far-reaching standard of conduct to which you hold them (and yourself!) accountable and by means of which they can reach for their full potential.

Admit your mistakes or amend your ways as you grow as a person, parent and problem-solver. Furthermore, ask your children for forgiveness whenever you become aware that they’re disappointed or angry with you for just cause. Never be too proud to initiate and perpetuate the kind of interaction with your children that will help the father-child relationship remain healthy, close and strong.

Love your children as though you never want any regrets, and live a life before them that can inspire them to also give their best. Be their #1 fan in all good things and sure voice of reason whenever you observe them straying. Permit your imperfections to keep you humble but never to hold you down. Defend your right to be intimately involved in your children’s lives while you make every effort to be, not just a “father of the year,” but the greatest role model of their lifetime.

Author's Bio: 

richard jones (www.iamrj.com) is a freelance writer living in Detroit, Michigan. He's also the extremely proud father of three of the most wonderful daughters a parent could ever have.