Most people wouldn't see being a dad as a health issue, but apparently it is.

Upon becoming a father for the first time, many men discover a new meaning to life. Positive life changes usually follow, including quitting smoking and drinking, driving more carefully, eating better, getting more exercise and learning how to manage stress. Men who are actively involved in the lives of their children tend to be healthier, have more fulfilling marriages and careers and tend to live longer.

In addition, research has shown that children with involved fathers do better in school, are more likely to graduate high school, have more friends and have fewer chronic psychological problems. They are also less likely to engage in risky behavior and tend to avoid smoking, drugs and alcohol. They are also less likely to become sexually active at an early age and tend to avoid pregnancy.

One of the most important ways dads improve their children's physical and psychological health is by setting a good example. Boys learn what it means to be a man in our society from their fathers. With a good role model, they will learn how to treat women with respect, that it's OK to have and show your emotions, and that you don't have to be a "tough guy" to be a man.

Here are some tips to help you become the kind of father you want to be:

Jump In. Don't worry about making a few mistakes. Being a good dad, just like being a good mom, comes with practice. If you really need some help, ask for it, but trust your instincts. Chances are you'll do exactly the right thing.

Don't Waste Precious Time with Your Children. The sooner dads start holding and caring for their babies, the sooner they learn what babies need and what they have to do to comfort them. In the first year, babies mostly need to feel loved. So cuddle, talk, sing, read, and show your baby the sights, sounds, and smells of his or her new world.

Be a Partner Not a Helper. After money, couples argue most about who does what around the house. The more responsibility you take on, the happier your wife will be, the happier you'll be, and the stronger your relationship will be.

Share Your Feelings With Your Partner. If you're feeling left out, talk to your wife or partner about it. Show her that you're serious about wanting to be an equal participant, and that you're ready and able to do the job.

Support Breastfeeding. Ideally, your baby should have nothing but breast milk for the first six months. But nursing is sometimes hard for new moms. Make sure your partner gets plenty of fluids and rest, and encourage her every way you can.

Don't Forget Your Relationship. Before you became parents, you and your wife spent a lot of time together building your relationship. But now, your baby is the focus of nearly everything you do. Set aside some time every day to talk with your partner about something other than the baby.

This article was supplemented with information from the Men's Health Network