Parenting SA

Dads in all communities and cultures are very important for families. There are many ways to be a dad. How dads do some things in Australia may be new to you.

Dad and families

Dads have a big role to play in the family, and how children grow and learn.

Families benefit when dads:

  • are kind and patient
  • show respect for all family members
  • are involved in caring for children
  • protect children from harm
  • get help when needed.

Some dads coming to Australia find their role in the family changes. They may be more involved in parenting, especially if there is less extended family support than before.

A kind, caring dad makes the whole family stronger.

Being a dad can bring you lots of joy. You are an important part of the family.

What dads can do

Dads in Australia are encouraged to help children grow and learn by:

  • spending time with them, talking, playing and having fun
  • being involved in their daily lives: feeding, bathing, dressing young children, taking children to school or to the doctors, being involved in children's sports or other activities
  • sharing books with children - in English or another language
  • telling stories from their own life or culture.

Dads can teach their sons to be kind and caring, and their daughters to expect respect in their relationships.

Let children help you do things. It may take longer but really helps them learn.

Dads and mums working together

Families are stronger when dads and mums have a good relationship, even if they don't live together. It is important for dads to respect all women in the family.

It helps when:

  • dads show they care. Help mum rest, relax, take a break
  • mums and dads share parenting tasks, and make decisions together.

If there are problems, don't fight in front of children or say bad things about their mum. There are services that can help with family relationships.

What about discipline?

Discipline means guiding children and helping them learn the behaviour you expect.

It helps children learn when you:

  • are patient and explain what you want and why it is important, as many times as you need to
  • stay calm, even if you feel angry
  • try to understand why children are 'misbehaving'
  • talk with them and come up with solutions together.

Smacking or punishing children does not help them learn. They might obey but miss the chance to practice solving problems. Harsh physical punishment of children is against the law. There are services that can help if you have ongoing concerns.

Dads are role models for their children. Always behave how you would like your children to behave.

When dads have problems

If there are problems in your life, it can be harder to be a dad.

There may be:

  • memories from the past
  • worries about loved ones left behind
  • problems with health, jobs, visas, alcohol, gambling, drugs.

It can help to:

  • contact a service. Dads are welcome and some have special programs for dads
  • let children see you improving things. They learn about solving problems from you.

Whatever is going on, you can still be a great dad. Make sure children know you love them.

Dads are important too. Take a break when you can, do things you enjoy, and look after your health. See a doctor if you often feel tired, unwell, sad or angry.

Family violence

Sometimes dads and others use violence at home. This is never OK in any culture or community. It is against the law in Australia.

Violence can be:

  • physical, such as hitting, pushing
  • emotional, such as making threats, shouting, telling lies about someone, making people feel bad
  • controlling what people do.

Violence harms everyone in the family. Children are harmed by the stress of violence even if they don't see or hear it. It changes how their brain works and they can't grow or learn as well. Violence at home makes it harder for adults to care for children.

If you feel very angry or that you might hurt your family, leave until you are calm. Make sure children are safe first. Take steps to learn better ways.

Keep your family strong by protecting them from violence.


See parent information and support.

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Last published: 07 Aug 2020 3:42pm

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Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
02 Mar 2021
Printed on:
07 Dec 2023
The Parenting SA website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016