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Fathers are just as important to children as mothers. In fact, children who have a father (or a father figure) who is actively involved in their lives do better in school, get in less trouble, and even make more money than children who don’t have a male role model.
Remember that you can play a major part in your children's lives even if you can't see them every day. And being a dad or helping raise kids doesn't take a special degree in child development or lots of money. It takes open communication, a willingness to set limits, and lots of love.
Here are just a few ways you can help your kids grow healthy and strong:
- Make sure your child has routine doctor visits. Learn which vaccines are recommended.
- Encourage kids to be active at least one hour each day. Children need activities that raise their heart rates and that strengthen muscles and bones. Get active with your child for health — and fun!
- Don't smoke around children. Kids' growing bodies are especially at risk from smoke.
- Emphasize good nutrition. Model healthy eating, and help kids learn what foods to choose.
- Keep kids safe. Make sure they are restrained correctly with car seats and seatbelts. Make sure they wear helmets when riding bikes or similar activities.
- Teach young people about healthy relationships. Talk about ways to avoid violence and to treat others with respect.
The resources below can help you learn more about what you can do to be a good role model and support.
Explore other publications and websites
A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Teen Years (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication provides information for parents on ways they can communicate and interact with their child during the difficult adolescent years.
Children’s Health Topics: Parenting (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics) — Children aren’t born with a guidebook, but this set of questions and answers can help you navigate all the difficult times during your child’s first years of life.
Dads & Kids: 5 Things Men Can Do to Get — and Stay — Involved (Copyright © Men's Health Network) — This online publication lists steps that fathers can take to be more effective parents.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — This publication provides information regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act. It includes a list of the most frequently asked questions.
Five Ways to Be a Great Dad Today (Copyright © National Fatherhood Initiative) — This publication lists five things dads can do today to be a better father.
Girlshealth.gov: For Parents and Caregivers — This site gives adolescent girls information about some of the health and social issues they will face during the teen years. The Parent/Caregiver section provides resources and links to helpful information for adults.
Parenting Tips (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — This fact sheet provides advice and tips on overcoming some common challenges in parenting.
Sex Education: Talking to Your Teen About Sex (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This fact sheet will help you as a parent talk to your teens about sex, and discuss issues like dating, abstinence, and date rape.
Talking To Your Child About Puberty (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication features information about when and how to discuss puberty with your child.
The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children — Tips for Dads — This publication provides resources and tips to help you be a better father and is a part of a larger selection that speaks on the importance of fathers in the healthy development of children.
What Is the Father's Role in the Breastfeeding Relationship? (Copyright © La Leche League International) — This publication gives information on how the father of the baby can support and be involved in the breastfeeding relationship.
Connect with other organizations
Boys and Schools
National Fatherhood Initiative
Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, HHS
Content last updated January 10, 2011.
Resources last updated January 10, 2011.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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