As a dad, you're a role model for your son. You show him how to be a man -- and how not to be.
"Your son's masculinity will be shaped by how involved you are," confirms psychologist Michael J. Diamond, PhD, author of My Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other Throughout Their Lives. "Fathers, in turn, often become more sensitive, more forgiving, more emotionally intelligent human beings as a result of being engaged in fathering and learning from their children."
Here, Diamond offers some advice.
Don't compete. Many men feel left out in the early days of their children's lives, as the newborn takes all of his mother's attention, he says. "It's a time when a lot of men act out, have affairs, become addicted to work, drugs, alcohol."
Don't be that guy. Instead, celebrate your son. "You need to have the courage to not be the hero of your own life but to allow your infant son to be center stage."
Move with him. Be physically active with your young son. "Men tend to play in a much more active way, and that's very important to the child as he starts to emerge out of babyhood and explore the world outside of Mommy," Diamond says.
Show your stuff. Share what you know and who you are with your son. "Your boy's really looking for a male to identify with," Diamond says. "A father can and should be really active in supporting his little boy's identification in the world."
Play games with him, encourage him to express himself artistically, buy a set of blocks, and build a house together.
"Fathers can be involved as mentors very early on for their sons, challenging them in various ways that will lead them into the wider world."
Be a real man. Show your son that men are emotional beings. "Your son wants to see that you are caring and loving," Diamond says.
"If your relationship with your own father did not teach you how to be the best dad, you can learn," he says. "More than anything, it takes talking to other men. Join a fathers' group where you can learn the different ways to be a good, caring, strong father."
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