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a father carrying his son piggy-back-style

Fathers are just as important to children as mothers. In fact, children who have a father (or a father figure) who is actively involved in their lives do better in school, get in less trouble, and even make more money than children who don't have a male role model.

Remember that you can play a major part in your children's lives even if you can't see them every day. And being a dad or helping raise kids doesn't take a special degree in child development or lots of money. It takes open communication, a willingness to set limits, and lots of love.

Here are just a few ways you can help your kids grow healthy and strong:

  • Make sure your child has routine doctor visits. Learn which vaccines are recommended.
  • Encourage kids to be active at least one hour each day. Children need activities that raise their heart rates and that strengthen muscles and bones. Get active with your child for health — and fun!
  • Don't smoke around children. Kids' growing bodies are especially at risk from smoke.
  • Emphasize good nutrition. Model healthy eating, and help kids learn what foods to choose.
  • Keep kids safe. Make sure they are restrained correctly with car seats and seatbelts. Make sure they wear helmets when riding bikes or similar activities.
  • Teach young people about healthy relationships. Talk about ways to avoid violence and to treat others with respect.

The resources below can help you learn more about what you can do to be a good role model and support.

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Content last updated: January 10, 2011.

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