What is it That Makes a Good Dad?
I took my kids camping this weekend and it rained for most of the trip. The rain made me sleepy and thoughtful. In between naps, I thought about the question: “What is it that makes a good dad?” Is it personality, skills, what you do or how you do it… or is it the whole package?
My list is below, but I invite you to create your own list. There is no perfect, no ‘real’ dad. We each work at it in our own way.
“Stories are stored, Lectures get left behind.”
The 12 Things that Good Dads Do
- You love your kids. Easy to say, hard to do when they wreck your stuff or ignore you. Stuff can be replaced and people do stupid things in the heat of the moment. I need love, you need love. Parenting is not rocket science, but it can give birth to rocket scientists if we love them and let them grow.
- You ask questions. Good questions can change your life, and they pass the time better than complaining. Questions make the other person the expert of their life.
- You eat junk food. Junk food can be fun if we eat it once in a while. Kids love the stuff, and having a “Chip fest” can fun. Truth is, I love chips and if I can eat chips, I am a happier dad.
- You go camping, or at least you are outdoors with your kids. Being outdoors, off screen is healthy and it is bonding. I highly recommend it. It takes work and pushing through some resistance, but it is worth it.
- You can be silly when you need to be. There is a fun energy when you let loose and channel your silliness. If we are laughing, we are bonding. Or at least, they are not asking me for money.
- You tell stories. Stories connect because our kids put themselves in your shoes. Remember: Stories are stored. Lectures get left behind.
- You involve your kids in the work that needs to be done. How else are they going to learn? Just try to minimize the swearing. My dad involved me in projects and then he swore, a lot. I made it through, but his hammer got into a lot of trouble…
- You applaud your kids for their effort. It can be hard to stick with something that makes you struggle. Part of parenting is to put your children into a place where they will struggle and then support them through it. AKA: piano lessons, Jr. High, chores, team sports, jobs. Lived experience is one of the best teachers.
- You tell them about your struggles. My kids hear my stories all of the time. I practice my stories on my family. They are my research subjects. Funny thing, my kids never seem to get tired of hearing the stories. Stories get stored, and when you are vulnerable your kids listen.
- You do things that you love. Children learn about passion by watching their parents. Loving your job is great, but what do you do after work? Having hobbies, passions, and other interests is what life is about.
- You forgive. For-Give-ness is a gift that we give to ourselves and each other. Life can be hard, we make mistakes and we do things that we regret. I need a regular dose of forgiveness every day, and it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to each other. Love forgets. In my world, life is spelled “Messy.”
- You take naps. Life is hard, take a nap.
“Life is hard, take a nap.”
Keep it Real
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2 thoughts on “12 Things that Good Dads Do”
1. He is at peace with himself.
2. He respects himself as a human (not an animal), as a male (not a female), as uniquely himself, (distinct from other men).
3. He acts and reacts in ways that are socially and emotionally appropriate for the situation. Fun when it’s time, angry when it’s time but never inappropriately or disproportionately.
4. He faces things that are uncomfortable – like admitting mistakes, apologizing, making amends.
5. He solves problems rather than complaining about them.
6. He accepts limits as a reasonable part of life.
7. He accepts responsibility rather than avoiding it.
8. He manages money, not allowing money to manage him.
9. He knows how to set goals and achieve them.
10. He knows how to rally and organize a group of people to work together to reach a goal.
11. He knows the value of life and the impact of his words and actions on others.
12. He knows how and when to pass this knowledge and wisdom on to his children.
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One of your best! Thank you.