Let’s be honest – Fatherhood is a tough gig if you really want to do a good job.
It is a pity education system, regardless of where you come from, does not really teach us how to become a great dad as a life skill. Everyone kind of learns on-the-job. Pretty insane don’t you think?
Most of us would not be fortunate enough to have our own dads as role models. Even if we have, this is one area where the good is definitely the enemy of the best. There is always room to do better and it is a lifelong journey of discovery.
I love the following quote:
“Any fool can be a Father, but it takes a real man to be a Daddy!
Qualities of a good father – The Ultimate List
1. No Dad Should Feel He is Good Enough
A man who thinks he is good enough at something would not bother to make an effort to improve. It is human nature.
Even if you think you are already a great dad, there is always something that you can do to be better. A good father should always strive to be a better father.
An even worst case scenario is to think that you are good when in fact you are a pretty lousy dad. This leads us to quality number 2.
2. Trust your spouse – Especially her feedback
Your wife sees you in action (or inaction) all the time.
Get her to tell you how she thinks you can improve and let her know that you are serious in considering her feedback to become the best dad possible. I am sure you are going to get some great points to work on.
If she is already privy to some ‘privileged’ feedback from the kids that she had been debating whether to let you know – you may have just given her the perfect opportunity to share openly with you. Remember that you are a team.
3. Have a sense of humor
Kids prefer the funny guy to the serious guy – anytime, all the time.
If you are Mr Serious most of the time or worst still, all the time, you are going to make yourself appear way less ‘fun’ than you can potentially be. Make them laugh, tickle them or elicit a chuckle and you will discover those special moments that turn into memories that last a lifetime.
Remember that playing and having fun are great ways to bond with your kids. Don’t be afraid to end up looking silly.
3. Love and be loving to their mom
This is one point that has been cited by experts as a huge factor in effective fathering.
By strive to maintain a better and increasingly positive relationship with your kids’ mom; you are taking powerful steps towards becoming a better dad.
Show affection to your wife on a daily basis.
If you cannot remember the last time you starting doing something that demonstrated that affection, you should begin right away. Start by being helpful around the house, watch your tone of voice and think often of the times when you first fell in love.
Children feel safe in an environment filled with genuine love and care.
4. Be disciplined – especially with the TV and Internet
Some dads complain that they have no time for their kids. If you are one of these dads, get off your butt and go make some time.
One thing that our kids want most from us is our time.
For some of us (that includes me) we have to be extra careful about the amount of time that we spend in front of the TV. If an average sitcom takes 45 minutes to an hour and if we multiply that by just 5 days a week – That is a lot of time!
Imagine what you could do with that time with your kids.
For some of us, watching less TV may appear like a huge sacrifice. But it should not be. If you are honest, keeping up with the latest sports or TV episodes adds nothing substantial to our life. However, investing time with your kids will pay handsome dividends now and well into the future.
By the way, being disciplined and exercising self control as a father is a great way to be a positive role model. You are indirectly setting up your children for success in the future.
5. Be strong – Don’t spoil your children
A good dad is not someone who simply gives in to every single demand from his children.
Neither should a good dad simply give in whenever a child sheds a few tears of disappointment. Be strong enough to say NO firmly and explain clearly why he or she can’t get what they want. Don’t ‘train’ your children to measure love by the amount of ‘stuff’ they receive.
An increasingly common temptation is for dads to heap physical gifts to their kids to compensate for lack of time spent with them. Be aware and refrain from unconsciously doing this. It helps to constantly ask yourself – what is this response or action of mine going to do to my children’s character and moral compass?
6. Be imaginative
Our kids are born with great imagination.
This natural ability can to be ignited with some help from you. Play pretend with them using day to day things that they are familiar with. I recall when I was still a little boy, I used to pretend that the rubbish bin lid was the steering wheel of my car – I still like cars today. Perhaps you could help them imagine that they are in magic faraway land. If you are creative enough, make up your own stories and tell them to your kids.
Doing activities that are creative and imaginative with your child is a great way to help them express themselves, stimulate their senses and from a scientific point of view, helps build the neurological connections in their brains.
7. Be a habitual learner
I love reading and I wished that my parents had read to me when I was a kid.
This is one activity that can be a lot of fun and builds up one of the most basic skills that a child needs. Studies have apparently shown that students who love learning and do well in school were exposed to reading before preschool.
Make yourself available to read bedtime stories to your kid. It is a great way to bond and learn.
Show your children that you are also a lifelong learner and a keen reader.
8. Zero Favoritism Mindset
The most important thing if you have more than one child is to recognize that favoritism is real and happens in most families.
And it can be devastating!
To deny that it exist is the biggest problem that parents face and you would do well to be aware and take the appropriate corrective actions. This is something that you have to make an honest assessment and constantly seek feedback from family and friends. If someone other than your wife gives you feedback on this, take heed.
Do not underestimate the hurt it can do to the neglected child.
A good dad is a fair dad.
9. Seek and Stay Healthy
What has this got to do with becoming a better dad?
You are an important role model and your kids will take after you in one way or the other.
Demonstrate in a tangible way the responsibility of exercising, keeping fit and eating healthily. Obesity in kids has become a real problem in modern western society and for that matter any society that is affluent. If you binge and snack like there is no tomorrow, guess what will your children likely do? If your major exercise routine each day is 45 minutes of bum on couch and fingers on remote – guess what your kids will be like years from now? Is that really the legacy you want to leave behind?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle would give you the energy to be with the people that matter most to you – your kids. It is something that affects your entire life tremendously.