7 Secrets of Effective Fathers

Studies have shown that the absence of a father figure in a child’s growing years negatively affects his/her social-emotional development. These effects may be more pronounced if the absence occurs during early childhood and are more obvious in boys than girls.

With longer working hours and increasing work travel, how can fathers continue to play an active role in nurturing and bringing up their children? Here are seven secrets Ken Canfield, author of The Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers, found when he surveyed over 10,000 fathers in America.

Secret #1 – Commit Your Role as a Father to God

“Commit your destiny to Yahweh, be confident in him, and he will act,” (Ps 37:5)

Fatherhood is an amazing but challenging journey and fathers will need all the help they can get. Thankfully, God our Father has promised help when we commit and surrender all aspects of our lives to Him. So make it a habit to ask God to help you to be a better and more effective father every time you pray.

Secret #2 – Get to Know Your Child

“Parents, do not irritate your children or they will lose heart.” (Col 3:21)

Effective fathers make it their priority to get to know their children. Through open dialogue and attentive observations, effective fathers know their children’s capabilities, concerns and questions. From there, they learn to provide the encouragement and nurture that is needed to help their children to grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Effective fathers are also open to learning from others such as teachers, catechists and their wives about their children.

Secret #3 – Be Consistent in Faith, Morals and Ethics

“You, though, have followed my teaching, my way of life, my aims, my faith, my patience and my love, my perseverance and the persecutions and sufferings that came to me…” (2 Tim 3:10)

In 2 Tim 3:10, St Paul presents himself as a model for Timothy by reminding Timothy of his own consistent conduct in matters regarding life and faith. Similarly, our children need role models who are consistent in thoughts, words and actions, especially in the area of faith, morality and ethics.

Should mistakes occur, effective fathers take the time to explain and apologise to their children their inconsistencies. Being honest with our children about our inadequacies give them courage to face their own.

Secret #4 – Love their Mother

“Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her…” (Eph 5:25)

One of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. As Pope Francis said, children first learn about love, trust, sincerity, fidelity and other virtues from the relationship between their father and mother. If your children see you loving your spouse, chances are, they will model that same standard in their own marriages.

Secret #5 – Protecting and Providing for the Family

“Anyone who does not look after his own relations, especially if they are living with him, has rejected the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8)

Effective fathers do everything within their power to be the protector and provider of the home. They provide a sense of security in their spouse and children by looking out for their emotional, spiritual and material needs. While it may not be possible to keep up with the Jones, it is more essential that children feel they can turn to their fathers in times of crisis and need.

Secret #6 – Practise Active Listening

“Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 2:29)

The Bible implores us in several places to listen. What does it mean to listen to our children? It means getting down to their level and giving them the freedom to be honest and speak without fear of incurring a lecture. This doesn’t mean that we cannot speak truth or correct our children. Rather, do so only after we have taken time to hear them out.

Secret #7 – Equip Your Children Spiritually

“Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.” (Jn 15:4)

The family is the domestic church and therefore the primary place for spiritual formation. Both fathers and mothers play an important and complementary role in teaching and modelling Christian values and lifestyle to their children.

Being a role model doesn’t mean being perfect. Rather, it means being strong enough to be admit our imperfections before our children and saying “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” when necessary. Let our children know about your dependency on God and His primacy in your life.


If you are thinking, “Wow, I still have a long way to go!” do not be disheartened. Remember that we are all imperfect and that there is only one who is perfect (cf Lk 18:19). By endeavouring to be better fathers, we are already teaching our children to be effective parents as well.

Let us pray:

O dear Jesus, I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family. May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith. I beg You, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and present, living and dead.

O Mary, loving Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, pray to Jesus for our family, for all the families of the world, to guard the cradle of the newborn, the schools of the young and their vocations.

Blessed St Joseph, holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life. Ask of Jesus that special grace which He granted to you, to watch over our home at the pillow of the sick and the dying, so that with Mary and with you, heaven may find our family unbroken in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


Archdiocesan Commission for the Family

Archdiocesan Commission for the Family