Being an involved father requires engagement in all aspects of your child’s life, including health and safety. Promoting healthy habits for you and your children include knowing how to properly handle a cut or scrape, accompanying your child to regular doctor check-ups, and ensuring that your child receives their mandated vaccinations, among others, are some of the ways you can make a significant, positive difference in the health and well-being of your children.
Healthy lifestyle habits can reduce you and your children’s risk of becoming overweight or obese and reduce the risk of developing other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer. Other benefits include improved mental health and mood and increased chances for living longer. Keeping our families safe is also a top priority for dads, families, and practitioners. Some of the things to consider when keep your children safe include being prepared for emergencies, transportation, and food safety. Mental Health has also become a critical issue for teens and adults. The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides resources for you and helping you address your child’s mental health needs.
Tips & Best Practices
- Promote healthy habits. Fathers can influence their children’s behaviors in many ways, including promoting healthy eating habits, sleep habits, and physical activity. This guide provides some practical tips to get you started in these areas.
- Keep your kids safe. Accidents happen to everyone, but there are things we can do to make them happen less often and be less dangerous. Drawing on data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, these tip sheets give information about the kinds of accidents that are the most common for children at different ages offers suggestions about what dads can do to help avoid these accidents.
- Know the signs of mental illness and seek help for yourself or your children if you suspect mental health issues. Mental health conditions are common among teens and young adults. 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14 and 75% develop by age 24. A mental health condition isn't your fault or your family's fault—these conditions develop for complicated reasons. There are many resources now available to help you spot signs of mental illness in yourself and in your children.
- Protect your children from predators. Human trafficking has become a very serious threat to young children and teens. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or working against his/her will. The average age of a trafficked child is between 11 and 14 years old. Traffickers have been known to actively seek out children with risk factors such as low self-esteem, abuse or neglect history, or poverty. Fathers needs to know what to look for and where to get help if they think their child is being targeted for human trafficking.
“If no one in your group is talking about it [domestic violence], you’re not addressing it.” – Lisa Nitch, House of Ruth, Maryland
For parents of teenagers and programs working with young fathers, knowing and recognizing the warning signs of unhealthy dating behaviors that can lead to teen dating violence is crucial. This is especially true in the context of a recent national survey in which 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the last 12 months. What’s more, during the 12 months prior to the survey, 1 in 10 teens reported being touched, kissed, or physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to at least once by someone they were dating.
Why do my children need to visit the doctor when healthy?
Children need to visit their pediatrician on a regular basis for “well-child” visits. These visits are typically free, and provide preventative medicine (such as vaccines), tracking of growth and milestones, and early identification of any concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a general schedule of well-child visits, which is a guideline of the ages when children should have each well-child visit from infancy through adolescence.
How do I protect my child from being bullied?
Bullying is a problem faced by many children at school, in the community, and online. It is important that fathers realize that bullying is not a rite of passage, and it won’t make children stronger. Fathers can play a large role in teaching their children how to behave, how to treat each other, and how to avoid violence like bullying.
How can I keep my child safe from human traffickers?
Every parent wants to protect their child from the evils of the world. Take the time to talk to your child about sexual abuse and sex trafficking. Help them understand why avoiding certain situations is critical to their safety.