Being a husband and a father are perhaps two of the most important roles you may have in your life, so it's completely normal to want to put your best foot forward. Start by showing consideration for your family and learning to communicate with them more effectively. Remember that to take good care of your family, you must take care of yourself, so implement positive lifestyle choices that support your health and well-being, too.
1. Be there when it matters.
Some moments may really stand out in your family, such as when your spouse gets passed up for a big promotion or the moment your young child learns to bike without training wheels. As a spouse and a parent, you won’t be able to be there for every single moment in their lives, but try to be there when it matters most.
- Avoid missing out on important sporting events, recitals, anniversaries or birthdays whenever possible. If you know it’s important to your spouse or kids, try your best to make it. If you can’t, let them know how upset you are to miss it and be sure you’re there next time.
2. Show interest in your spouse and kids.
It’s common for many families to fall into a ho-hum pattern of only discussing things like the kids’ grades, bills, household repairs, and who’s picking up whom from sports practice. Strike a new chord when communicating with your spouse and kids by adding some new topics to the conversation.
- If you never ask your spouse about their day job, ask “So, how’s that big project coming along at work?”
- If you never inquire about your children's friends, you might say “How’s Rebecca adjusting to the new school?”
- Changing up the way you talk helps show your family that you’re interested in them and what’s important to them.
3. Be a role model and practice what you preach.
Don’t expect your children to follow your advice if your own behavior goes against it. Hold yourself accountable for meeting the same standards that you set for your kids.
- For instance, don’t lie in front of your kids--even little fibs--if you are emphasizing the importance of honesty.
- If helping out is a big deal in your family, be the first to pitch in with chores or household responsibilities.
4. Encourage open and honest communication.
The best husbands and fathers regularly talk to and listen to their spouse and children. When your family feels like you actively make time to hear them out, they will be more forthcoming with communication. Good communication starts early on, so try to implement positive practices as soon as possible.
- Power off your phone or mute the TV and turn to face your loved one when they are talking.
- Let your loved ones know that you are interested in talking to them by making yourself available and paying attention when they’re around.
- Ask open-ended questions to show your interest, like “So what do you like most about this TV show?”
5. Avoid judging or criticizing.
A common barrier for effective communication is jumping in with judgments or criticisms. When you do this, your spouse and kids put up walls and are hesitant to talk to you. Instead of judging or criticizing, ask more questions that help you better understand their perspectives.
- For instance, don’t ask “Why would you do that?,” ask “What happened?” Or, say something like, "Hmm...Tell me more about that."
6. Carve out regular quality time for your family.
Good husbands and dads have a strong bond with their family, so be intentional about spending time with your spouse and kids as a group and one-on-one. Schedule in bonding time throughout the week.
- You might start a new tradition of playing games or watching movies every Saturday night for group bonding time.
- For individual time, try sharing a hobby with your kids, such as tossing around a ball with one child or listening to another child practice the violin. Rise early to share a cup of coffee and enjoy the sunrise with your spouse before the kids wake.
7. Cherish old traditions and build new ones.
Good family values also include observing religious holidays, cultural rituals, and family traditions. This might include celebrating Hanukkah, attending church services, praying, or exchanging gifts on Christmas. Show respect to existing family beliefs and traditions and create new ones that are distinct to your family unit.
- If you and your spouse have the same views, share those beliefs with your children. If your views differ, find a happy medium so that your children have an understanding of both your backgrounds and beliefs. You can also try blending or alternating celebrations from both traditions.