How important a role do you, as a father, play in your child's life? The importance of a strong and involved father figure can never be underestimated.
Who takes most of the decisions with regard to the upbringing of your child in your family? In some families it is the mother who decides if her child should go to a certain movie with friends, go out for dinner or go to that party. The father does not say much, or is not very involved in these decisions. Even if the father does have an opinion, he may voice it to his wife in private, and the wife will then communicate the same to the child. For example, when 19-year-old Latha wanted to go for a party with friends, her mother said that she would think about it. She then discussed the matter with her husband at night, who felt it was okay if she went, as long as they picked her up from the party at 11:00 at night. Latha's mother then communicated this to Latha, and told Latha that the matter was final, and not open to discussion.
Fathers often perceive their roles as the caregiver and sometimes don't get involved in upbringing issues - at least, not directly with the child. Needless to say, as a parent you too should have a say in giving or denying your child permission to do something. The more active a role you play in your child's upbringing, the closer he will be to you.
Make plans to do things together as a family - either only amongst yourself, or with friends and family. Play an active role in organizing weekends out of town, family vacations, or trips to the zoo. Don't take the back seat and let others make the plans. If you are planning a trip with other families, have an opinion on where you would like to go, what you would like to do, and voice it. This doesn't mean that you should be stubborn and not take the majority's opinion into consideration, but you should take active part in the discussions and plans.
Talk to your children not just about their studies and career plans, but also about what is going on in their lives with their friends. Children are sometimes cagey when it comes to discussing their friends with their parents, but this generally happens because parents come across as too curious or too judgmental. Instead, discuss their day as a friend would - without proffering unsolicited advice all the time. Advice is not always welcome, and if your child finds you giving him advice every time he comes to you, he will soon stop confiding in you. Often children require nothing more than a hearing ear, and if you as a father can provide an ear to your child, your bond will be that much stronger.
Do things together. Children love playing indoor games with their parents, but parents seldom have the time to give their children. Get a few board games like chess, scrabble or monopoly, and keep time aside to play with your children. When your children's friends come over, help your child organize games to play with them. Join in for a couple of rounds to familiarize yourself with your child's friends.