Parenting Matters: Dad’s priorities

Cynthia Martin quizzes you to see how your family fits on your priority scale.

In most families, the father has the important task of being the breadwinner. While he may not be the only one who earns money for the family; that is probably one of his jobs.

It is easy for a father to become involved in his role as wage earner but forget how to keep his family the highest priority item in his life.

Frequently, fathers say they don’t have enough time to spend with their children. What can you do as a father to make sure your family feels they are important to you?

Test yourself to see where your family fits on your priority scale. Give yourself five points, if you feel you do an excellent job, zero points for a poor job or any score in between that you think you deserve.

But far more important than the test results, see if these questions give you some ideas how you may become more involved with your family.

The quiz

1. If your child is sick, is it part of your routine to nurture and care for your child?

2. Do you know your child’s favorite games or favorite books or her favorite friend?

3. Is there some area of learning that you are helping your child with, such as learning to work in the yard, to wash the car, to improve his reading, to play a game, or to teach him how to brush his teeth?

4. Are you involved in being with your child on a regular basis some part of her day, every day? Do you take her to school? Do you bathe her? Do you change her diapers or feed her?

5. Are you viewed as someone who is important in your child’s life or as someone who is there to help if Mom can’t be there? When you stay with her for any length of time, do you think you are “baby sitting’ or is this part of being a father?

6. Do you include your child in conversations you have during dinner and make her feel she is an important part of the family? Do you listen to what she says to you and give her your full attention?

7. Do you let your wife know when you are pleased with what she has done for you or because she looks so good? Does she feel she is valuable to you or is she just the keeper of the house and keeper of the children?

8. Do you read stories to your child on a regular basis?

9. Do you give hugs and tell your children regularly that you love them? How about your partner?

10. Do you look forward to coming home at night so you can spend time with your family?

How did you score?

If you scored 40 to 50 points you’re doing an excellent job of keeping your family as a high priority in your life. You are doing a good job if you scored 25 to 38 points. Below 25 may mean you need to work on giving your family a higher priority in your life.

Time with your child needs to begin early in his or her life. Don’t assume that you will become important to your child when he is older. Being an effective father means investing time, effort and love in these early years with your child.

So look around you for ways to be involved. It really makes a difference to your child, your partner, and yourself.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.