Parents And Children Together

The New Generation of Dads in Hawaiʻi

5 ways that fathers—and father figures—can strengthen bonds with their keiki.

In this era, traditional gender roles are taking a backseat, and a new wave of dads are being ushered in. More dads are bringing their kids to and from school, attending parent meetings or playing in the park with their keiki. Some even are visiting the doctor for baby’s check-ups, a role that was primarily reserved for moms a few decades ago.

Engaged dads are a crucial part of keiki development. Studies show that children with positive father figures do better in school, have fewer disciplinary problems and exhibit healthier behavior that will have a long-term impact on a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

In today’s world, dads may be classically married, single, divorced or even a step dad. No matter how the family is structured, it is important for fathers of all types to be involved.

Dads just need to be present at all times, exercise extreme patience and be prepared to answer a lot of questions–repeatedly.

  1. Find an offline hobby. This can be anything that gets the kids out from behind the Xbox and talking with dad. It can be as simple as taking a walk at Kapiʻolani Park or Ala Moana Beach Park.
  2. Involve kids in everyday activities. From car washing to cooking, involving kids in activities that dad has to do himself is a great way to be productive, while providing learning opportunities for keiki.
  3. Get to know other dads. Create a support network of other dads by talking with other dads or parents that can help to navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood.
  4. Ask a lot of questions. Asking questions not only to your children but to their teachers, physicians, hānai family and anyone else involved in their lives help dads know what’s going on and makes it easier to be involved.
  5. Show respect for the other parent. Parenting is a cooperative and lifelong commitment. When mom and dad show respect for each other, children feel secure in their environment and are more likely to respect themselves and others.

Ben Naki is the vice president of early childhood education programs at Parents And Children Together. He was raised by a loving single father and is a proud dad of two girls. Visit ParentsAndChildrenTogether.org or call (808) 847-3285.