Fathers know a deep, dark secret about their side of parenting. Being a father is confusing and often frightening. Bill Cosby once wrote, "If God had trouble handling children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you?" (Cosby was referring to Adam and Eve and their disobedience in the garden.) To make our task even more challenging, somewhere along the way our children develop the firm conviction that Dad never even lived in the real world or his brain is stuck in a malfunction mode! The real clincher is found in the common belief that all world problems are caused by American males (OK, so this is a slight overstatement, but notice how dads are most often portrayed on TV — dumb, out to lunch, mean ...). It all adds up to quite a challenge.

Most men want to succeed as fathers. They think they are taking their role seriously. Though many men wouldn't admit it, they are eager for something that will enhance their effectiveness as a father. Dads can become heroes to their children. It takes a lot of work, patience and love, but it's possible. What follows are some suggestions that will help you fight the misperceptions of fathers in your own family by doing some right things with your children.

Be Around
Few things are as important as your presence. Dads often make lots of excuses. There is work, there is this project or that. There's the civic club, the golf game, the tickets to the ball game or the hunting trip. Twenty years from now your kids won't care about any of that and neither will you. You'll be wondering what happened to the relationship. Your kids need you. Be there.

Learn How To Encourage
Parents, by nature, tend toward the negative. "Don't" and "can't" are necessary tools. They help keep the kids out of the fire and help them understand it's not good to eat the whole jar of peanut butter at once. But, kids need to know what they can do. Validate their abilities by telling them when they do something well. It will give them courage to do even better.

Admit Your Faults
If you don't admit your faults, you'll be the only one ignoring them. Admit faults and be man enough to apologize. It will make you more sensitive about how you handle your children's faults. It will also make it easier for your kids to forgive you when you need it.

Make Trust A Priority
Trust comes two ways. One is to earn it through dependability and consistency. The other way is a gift. Children need to learn both. Show children they can trust you. Earn their trust. Teach them they must earn trust as well. However, there comes a time when you extend trust as a gift. When you do, you will tap into your child's increasing maturity.

Show Tenderness
Too many American fathers grew up with the "macho-man" idea. Be strong, be tough, be hard, be busy. That's fine if you're a character in a Clint Eastwood cowboy movie, but it doesn't do much for relationships with kids. Children need to see that Dad is touched by some things, that there are emotions inside, and not just angry ones. Little boys and girls need hugs and kisses from big Dads. Many grownups cry because they never heard Dad say, "I love you," or felt a loving embrace from strong arms.

Love Your Wife
The single best source of input regarding marriage is from one's parents. Respect your kid's Mom. Be kind to her. Demand that your children respect her as well. Your response to your wife develops a sense of security in your children. Give your kids the security of a loving marriage.

Respect Authority
Most fathers want to fill the role of authority. However, if you want your children to respect authority they must see it in you. Show respect for God, church, government, and your boss. Show respect for your own parents, if they are still living, or speak of them in ways that show respect if they are no longer around. Your example will instill the right attitude in your children's minds.

Be A Christian
Take the lead in spiritually nurturing your children. Plant spiritual values in your children's hearts. Teach them about God, Christ and His church. Show them it's important. Talk about death and eternal matters, but illustrate the importance by your own life. God will become important to children when God is important to Dad.

Teach The Bible To Your Children
Fathers spend thousands of dollars educating children for a job. They often spend little educating them for a life. The Bible will help your kids know how to live. You should be the primary instructor. One simple way to do this is to get a children's Bible and read 1 story a night with your children when they are young. As they grow older, simply go to more grown up Bible stories until you are actually reading the Bible with them, or discussing what they have read in Scripture on their own.

Be Fun
There are plenty of times for seriousness. Your kids need to know that you can laugh and have fun. Lighten up! Everything is not earth-shatteringly important. Laugh at jokes, mistakes and yourself. Let some things happen with a smile instead of a frown. Your kids will think that you're great fun to be with. Bet you'd like that, wouldn't you?

Now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)