The #1 best thing fathers can do for their children is to love their mother. This indicates a solid family structure and both traditional values and statistics tell us it is the best indicator of successful children. That's a great things for fathers to know and work toward.
But what does "love their mother" entail? It involves a LOT of things, such as:
1. A kiss in the morning and a kiss goodnight
2. Opening her door
3. Thanking her for all her hard work
4. NEVER allowing the children to speak disrespectfully TO her or ABOUT her
5. Remembering special occasions---birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers Day (big one!), etc.
6. Continuing to date her
7. Offering unsolicited help with the dishes or the laundry or other household chores
8. Noticing if she changes her makeup or hairdo or gets a new outfit
9. Giving her some time to herself
10. Telling her you love her
Oh, I could go on and on with ideas. They are numerous. I'm sure you have your own suggestions also. But I would like to talk about one particular idea that is extremely important----respecting her understanding of the children.
I have, unfortunately, witnessed many fathers discount the mother's opinion when she says she knows something is not quite right for their child. Mothers have pleaded for someone to listen to their concerns and help them find ways to help their child---and the dad says, "I disagree and I veto any further action on this subject." Well, this is where steam starts coming out of my ears. Because while that father was putting his foot down, I see the look on the face of the mother. She is almost broken in half now. She knows, and she knows deep in her gut with that sense that was given to mothers by God. There is no argument in her mind---only wanting to know what to do next. And now there is a roadblock. And it's the very person who should be her partner.
So "what to do next" means her focus is shifted away from helping her child and back to dealing with someone who won't believe and trust her. The very person who should be supporting her and praising her dedication won't trust her about her very own child. He trusted her to be the one to nourish the baby in utero, to give birth, to get up in the night to feed, to change the diapers, etc.----but doesn't believe her when she says, "I know something needs extra attention here. I know something should be going differently than it is."
So here is my advice on the best thing fathers can do for their children----trust their mother to nurture and care for them, even if you don't see it the same way. (Of course, there are some basic ideas to agree upon---hopefully you cleared those up BEFORE a child came along.) But if your wife has concerns, then support her and help her. 99% of the children who are struggling are FIRST diagnosed by their mother. She knew long before other family members and certainly before the professionals. She is not lying or imagining things---quite the opposite. She knows what "well" looks and feels like, and she knows that something is awry. She is not borrowing trouble just for fun---those struggles do not increase her "fun" quotient.
My own husband wasn't really quite sure what to think when I told him I knew something was wrong with our youngest child. But he believed me. When that something meant we needed to take action, I wanted to fly to Philadelphia and start working with our son myself. In his words, he was on "quackwatch", but he never said a negative syllable to me. He already knew I was our child's best advocate. Six months into it, he saw the progress and knew we were on the right track. He understood and believed what I had known earlier---but in that time when he was "quack-watching", he let me do what I instinctively knew was right for our son.
My husband understood the special gift given to mothers---sometimes called "mothers' intuition" and how powerful it could be. He knew this gift began with Mother Eve and has continued through the annals of time. He knew that when I became a mother for the first time at 5 am on a June morning in 1984, that gift was bestowed upon me. He also knew this gift was never used for my benefit, but always for the betterment of our children. He knew that God trusted me with this gift, and he did, too.
And that level of respect and trust is #1 on the list of "loving their mother". Thank you, Bart, for loving me so well for almost three decades. I am a better person because of you! Young fathers---love your child's mother, it's the best thing you can do for your children. Ever.