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Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

Don’t we all just aspire to be the best dad. All dads try their best to do good in the role of a new dad. Considering they are newbies, they like taking advise and grow with  each situation that they are confronted with. Here are some tips one could consider to be in the good books for kids:

1. Be more active If fathers don’t start taking the initiative, they’ll never be able to assume the child rearing responsibilities they really want and that their children deserve. Instead of letting your partner pluck your crying or smelly baby from your arms, try saying something like, “I think I can handle things” or “That’s okay, I really need the practice.”

There’s also nothing wrong with asking her for advice: You both have insights that the other person could benefit from.

2. Get more practice Don’t assume that your partner magically knows more than you do. Whatever she knows about raising kids, she learned by doing — just like anything else. And the way you’re going to get better is by doing it, too.

Don’t be afraid to get help if you’re uncertain or feel ill-prepared to be a father. Classes are available to help fathers learn the basics of care giving.

Learning to be an active and involved father need not be restricted to the period just after your baby’s born, either. There’s no clear evidence that this is the critical time for men to learn fathering skills or to develop emotional ties with their children.

3. Take pride in the special way you are with your kids Men and women have different ways of interacting with their children. Men tend to stress physical and high-energy activities; women, more social and emotional ones. But don’t let anyone tell you that safely wrestling, bouncing on the bed, or other “guy things” are somehow not as important as the “girl things” your partner may do (or want you to do).

The rough-and-tumble of father play teaches valuable lessons about regulating emotions such as excitement and arousal. Children with physically connected dads tend to do better in school, are more social, and are less likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol, or criminal behavior than children whose dads keep their distance.

4. Be emotionally available to your children Physical interaction is undoubtedly an important part of the father-child relationship, but being emotionally available and involved is critical, too.

5. Be a partner, not a helper Despite the nostalgia of some conservative social critics for the idealized Ozzie and Harriet families of the 1950s, the traditional father-as-helper-only model is outdated and outmoded, and it won’t work nowadays. If men are going to be fully involved, they’re going to have to share responsibility for the household and childcare duties in an active fashion.

6. Be available for the day-to-day To be an effective father, get involved in the day-to-day decisions that affect your kids. Leaving everything to your partner means you’ll miss out on the small pieces that give meaning to your child’s life.

Without taking part in the everyday chores, routines, and activities that make up childhood, fathers aren’t going to know their children with the kind of intimacy and nuance that’s critical to being a sensitive father.

7. Show respect for your partner Being an involved father means recognizing all the ways in which your partner keeps the family running and respecting the decisions she makes when you’re unavailable.

8. Be aware of the need to communicate If you don’t like the status quo, let your partner know. If she seems reluctant at first to share the role of child nurturer with you, don’t take it too personally. Give her time to learn that you’re serious about wanting to participate more and that you’re competent and sincerely motivated be an engaged parent.

9. Know your legal rights Legal changes have given fathers more rights that can help them balance home and work, but you’ve got to educate yourself to reap the benefits.
10. Stay involved after separation and divorce Fewer than 15 percent of fathers receive shared or joint custody of their children after divorce, and too many of those who don’t get custody end up slowly fading out of their children’s lives.

But even after divorce, there are a lot of ways in which dads can continue to play an active role. The most critical is to stay in touch — in person, by phone, by email, or by regular mail. And make the time you spend with your kids meaningful.

Avoid trying to settle old marital disputes by using your children as pawns. Parents need to cooperate and support each other for the sake of the children.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

Bill Belew

Daddy and Christian.

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