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First-time dads should take parenting classes

I am excited about becoming a father soon. What do I need to know about fathering my child?

Taking classes before you have a baby always helps in the adjustment of becoming a parent. Learning to become a good father is a very complicated issue. It takes time and energy, interest and responsibility. Most of all it takes loving your child.

Attend as many classes as you can with your wife, because mothering and fathering have a lot in common.

However, fathers play a unique role in their child’s life. Research shows that children who grow up with fathers who stay involved in their life tend to enjoys all kinds of benefits; from better school performance to less trouble with the law, to better careers and relationships with others.

We learn primarily how to parent our children from our own parents. If your father was involved in your life as a child, you will tend to also be involved. We remember how our fathers interacted with us. We treasure the memories of his strong hug, his sense of humor, and how he administered punishment.

Sometimes the mere thought of how he would react to our misbehavior was enough to deter us from following through on something that we knew we shouldn’t do. Fathers build a sense of identity for the family. Fathers pass on family traditions, values and opinions that continue for generations.

One of the best sources of information on how to be a father is watching your friends, brothers and even strangers parent their children. Watch how they interact and develop strategies that are successful. Watching is good but talking is even better. Talk to fathers that you admire. You may learn how they came to develop their own style of fathering.

The most important message about how to learn to be a good father is to just do it. Your interest in learning to be the best father that you can be is a great indicator that you are going to be just that, a great father.

There is a lot of “on the job” training in becoming a parent. It is a lifelong learning experience. Always keep in mind that you do not have to be perfect. In fact, letting your children know that you may be wrong on occasion lets them know that even their dad can make a mistake and it isn’t the end of the world.

It takes a man and a woman to create a child. It takes a mother and a father to raise a child.

As a child grows there will be times when the mother is the most important person in their life. And there will be times when the father is the one they need.

The Mayan Indians have a saying that “the mother holds the baby close so that she knows that she is safe, and the father holds the baby up so that she knows the world is hers.”

As you raise your child remember these 10 things to help you be the best father you can possibly be: love your child’s mother, spend time with your child, talk to your child, discipline with a gentle spirit, be a role model to your child and to other fathers, be a teacher to your child, eat together as a family, read to your child, show affection and last of all realize that a father’s job is never done.

Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace.