(K-LOVE Closer Look) -- Fathers who are present in their child’s life improve the child's grades, decrease risk of drug use and help their child avoid criminal behavior. Whether you live with your kids' mom or not, research shows an involved father is irreplaceable

So you wanna be a good dad. Now what? Click below to hear K-LOVE's Bob Dittman talk with the National Center for Fathering.

Dr. Ken Canfield believes no man can be the father he wants to be without the brotherhood of other dads – friends as teammates who can offer ideas and strategies for winning fatherhood. “You’re only as wise as the counsel around you,” says Canfield, who founded the National Center for Fathering.

dad tosses his laughing child up in the air

Fathers.com provides free articles, blogs and training courses to educate men committed to providing more than basic food, clothes and shelter for their kids. Emotional and spiritual resources as well as practical how-tos are posted to help men determined to focus on fathering. 

“We know in business, we know in work that you have goals you have you have to meet: well what’s your fathering plan?”

Embracing the role can be difficult for some men, particularly those who grew up without a dad -- or suffered at the hands of their own father. Canfield believes deliberately committing yourself to fathering your own children can bring healing to those feelings you had as a boy.  “We need to see this privilege of being a dad as kind of a cleansing, a preparation for maturity into old age.”

And good news for non-custodial dads: research shows a man can impact his children whether he is married to their mother or not. Whatever time a father spends with his children makes a difference. His involvement can increase what is known as a child’s ‘resiliency score’ and can help both boys and girls develop essential problem-solving skills. “There’s no one that replaces that human touch, extending a blessing over your children, helping them go through a crisis -- like a dad.”

dad swings his daughter and son around on a beach at sunset