Parents of six children Brett and Kate McKay have drawn up what they call “The Awesome Dad Cheat Sheet“, offering “18 Fatherhood Tips They Should’ve Handed Out at the Delivery Room”.

Even for fathers (and mums) who think they already know it all, the list could prove to be a good refresher. I was certainly reminded of a few flagging resolutions.

For those who don’t have the time to read through all 18 tips – some of which are quite lengthy – we offer the following mini-guide.

Some of the tips are well known – even obvious, but can still be among the easiest to overlook. For instance: “Above all, show your children love”, “Practice patience” and “Model good behaviour”.

Then there are the ones that can be difficult to enforce, like “Limit TV and video games” and “Set boundaries”.

For young parents, particularly new fathers, reading to a child can seem like an added extra that can often be dispensed with, but the McKays, like most experienced moms and dads, insist “read to them, often”. They explain:

“Whether you’re a reader or not, reading to your children (from the time they’re babies onward) is crucial. It gets them in the habit of reading, and prepares them for a lifetime of learning. It gives you some special time together, and become a tradition your child will cherish. I read with all my children, from my 2-year-old and my 15-year-old, and love every word we read together.”

A similar tip that is easily neglected is “spend as much time as you can with them, and make it quality, loving time. Try to be present as much as possible while you’re with them too — don’t let your mind drift away, as they can sense that.” .

Brett McKay urges fathers not to be sexist – “Don’t look at anything as ‘mom’ duties,” he says, “share responsibilities.” And he adds: “Treat mum with respect always and stand together with her.”

Overall, the couple emphasise that parents need to be proactive in instilling good behaviors and values in their children, but they also insist that it is critical for parents to let all their children “be themselves”. Part of that, they say, is to progressively teach them independence. And finally, the McKays emphasise that parents cannot afford to take things too seriously. “Instead of losing your temper,” they say, “try to have a sense of humour.” Very good advice indeed!

If you have the time, the list of 18 tips is well worth reading in full.

William West

William West is a Sydney journalist.