While being a parent today might look different to what many Pacific dads experienced themselves, encouraging and supporting them to be actively involved in parenting and nurturing leads to greater wellbeing for their children.

Many Pacific dads might feel that their own experience as fathers today is very different from what they learned from their own dads. This might lead to Pacific dads feeling unsure of how to parent in the best way.

Pacific dads may feel a tension between the western fathering attitudes and behaviours in New Zealand, and their own traditional values and beliefs.

It’s important that Pacific dads feel involved and are part of parenting their children, understanding that they have parenting strengths, even if they don't feel confident in this. They play a fundamental role in their children’s lives and can make a positive difference for their children. In fact, research shows that when Pacific dads are fully involved in parenting and have supportive, nurturing relationships with their children, this supports their children to have higher levels of health and wellbeing.[1]

Natira bon kaubwaira n taai aika ana roko.

Children are our treasures and our future.
(Kiribati proverb)

How can we support Pacific dads to be involved?

Parents can share ideas about the ways they’d like to support each other and each build loving relationships with their child. These kinds of conversations help establish each other’s expectations and support active parenting roles for dads.

These conversations may include:

  • At what times dad is available to look after their baby or child – changing nappies and feeding, bathing in line with work schedules, allowing the other parent to rest, take time out or attend to other things.
  • How their child’s culture will be upheld including language, songs, books and stories, sharing history and memories perhaps through photos and art – all of this supports brain development and wellbeing.
  • What important aspects of the parents’ own childhood they want to share with their own child, like traditions and rituals.
  • Researching cultural parenting styles that support connections with their children.

Handout for families

Parenting style quiz

Everyone has their own way of parenting. Share this printable quiz with parents to discover the parenting style they use most often – the rock, the paper or the tree.

pdf 4.6 MB

Nurturing relationships

The relationship between Pacific dads and their older children can also be nurtured by:

  • spending time together playing
  • involving children in activities which Pacific dads enjoy such as playing sport, being outside, gardening, being at the beach or fishing  
  • learning to effectively praise children and show them affection – this supports connection
  • involving them or teaching them traditional songs, dances, sharing migration stories
  • continuing to be interested in their children’s interests and hobbies, school or preschool, sport and other activities.

Find out more about Pacific parenting

Conversation ideas

Tell me about the kind of dad you want to be for your child?
If you think about your child when they’re 5, what kind of relationship do you want to have with them? What do you think you can do to support this?
What things from your own childhood do you want to share with your own child?

Helpful resources for whānau