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The Changing Face of Fatherhood.

From divorced dads and older dads to gay dads and stepdads, the number of "alternadads" is growing. But whether your fathering style leans more toward Ozzy Osbourne or Ozzie Nelson, experts say the basics of parenting really are quite similar.

All in the Family

Whether you're a father who is young or old, or whether your fathering style leans more toward Ozzy Osbourne than Ozzie Nelson, the basics of parenting really are quite similar. For example:

  • Be forgiving of your mistakes in parenting, advises Farrell. "Don't expect to be a perfect parent, because there are no perfect parents," she says. "Just be the best parent you can." Your children will gain the gift of understanding that it's OK to be imperfect and to learn from mistakes.
  • "'Quality time' is a myth," argues Pruett. "We all hope that when we've been away for four days and get home on Friday night ready to take our 9-year-old out for pizza and a movie, it's going to be quality time." But surveys of school-age children, he adds, show that what youngsters really want is for their fathers to be less stressed and less overworked. "They want more peaceful parents," he adds, as well as regular family time just to "hang out" with their fathers, protected from their dad's work and stress.
  • Think carefully about what you want to give your youngsters besides money, says Pruett. A lot of men feel that their fathering is reflected most directly through their capacity to provide, but children are looking for more from you, he adds. Ask yourself and act upon questions such as, "Do you want to give your child your sense of values? Your politics? Your passion for fishing? Your ability to love?"

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