Often, mothers are the primary caregiver, so children will rely on them for many of their day-to-day needs. But dads are important too – in fact, fathers who are involved with their children bring positive benefits that are unique and special.

Research shows kids who have a solid relationship with Dad get along better with siblings, have better social skills and experience less emotional distress. Father involvement from birth and through childhood is positively linked with children’s overall life satisfaction and wellbeing. What’s more, getting involved is great for dads. Fathers who are connected with their kids are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives, enjoy greater marital stability and have a strong sense of how important they are to their kids.

But the father-child relationship is more than kicking the footy in the backyard, and many dads find it tricky to balance fatherhood with work commitments. Some fathers are especially challenged because they are shift workers or don’t live with their children. Plus, fathers can feel disconnected from their children’s lives because they may be confused about their role.

Getting involved, even in small ways, helps dads develop healthy relationships with their kids. For dads who work long hours, do regular shift work or don’t live with their kids, it’s important to make the most of the time you spend with them. Try these strategies to connect with your kids:

  • If you’re gone when your child wakes up, leave them a note or give them a call. If you’ll be gone when they go to sleep, give them a call in the afternoon or before they go to bed.
  • For small children, give them something that belongs to you that they can hold, sleep with or smell.
  • If you’re going on a work trip, tell your children how long you will be gone for and what you will be doing. Look at a calendar with your children so they can countdown to when you are home, and while you are away send postcards or stay in touch with Skype.

You may like to read more about the importance of dads.