The role of fathers has changed significantly over the last two generations. In my father’s generation, the role of a good dad was pretty simple. They were good providers and offered structure, discipline, and affection. These were dads that taught their kids how to ride a bike, how to respect their elders, and how to be successful human beings. A father’s job was to delegate the bulk of the child-rearing to the mother and serve as an authority and helper in raising respectable kids that could be independent in the world. But, as the song says, is that all there is?
Modern Dads Have Broken the Mold
In modern parenting, mothers and fathers are more typically co-parents in raising their children. Dads are not just helpers. They are actively parenting their kids. I was lucky to have a Dad who broke a little bit of the mold as a dad in the 1970s and 80s. He not only gave us a good home, but he gave me something even more important: a view into who he was as a human being.
We’d have in-depth discussions about life, and he gave me reading lists of his favorite books of fiction by American authors like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner. He would take me fishing on the Gulf Coast early in the mornings during summer vacations. He was a talented potter, and he let me spend time with him in his studio, making bowls and vases. When he dragged me to watch the first Star Wars movie when I was a kid, it was life-changing. We bonded over “The Force” and Joseph Campbell’s teachings on mythology. He was the person that introduced me to meditation, gardening, and Eastern philosophy.
But, of course, he wasn’t perfect. He was always learning how to be better and do better both as a father and as a human being. And the fact that he was an active co-parent also allowed me to see my working mother as a whole person, too, with ambition and interests of her own.
When my partner and I had our son, my gut told me my husband would be a great father. Why? Because he is kind, sensitive, thoughtful, and loving. These are absolutely core attributes to becoming a wonderful father. So, here’s to the amazing dads in our lives. This is what I love about you.
5 Reason Why You Are a Good Dad
Dads who know how to “turn off” their brains and immerse themselves in the moment with kids are not only fun; they can connect with their children in meaningful ways. They’re not preoccupied with what happened last week, or how the kids will turn out in a year. They can wipe away their worries, for the moment, and just be silly, playful, or emotionally available when a child is having a rough time. Kids want to be heard and seen, if only for a few moments. A present father can do that easily and without reservation.
You’re Not a Helper
Great dads don’t consider caring for their kids as “helping” or “babysitting.” They don’t expect gold stars to help the kids learn their ABCs, doing their laundry, or taking them grocery shopping. They just do it. They are 100% parenting with their partners who, in many cases, are also either working full-time or working themselves to the bone at home. The dads I love most don’t expect their partners to do everything for the kids. Kids who can see a true partnership in action will get a valuable lesson in how respectful and equitable relationships work.
You Work on Yourself
I loved that my father was always on his journey to understand himself. This served as a powerful example for my own life and expanded my interest in spirituality and personal development. I appreciate dads who can apologize for their mistakes, question why they do and say harmful things, make changes, and work to be more emotionally intelligent. That’s a big deal. Men who commit to understanding how to manage stress and regulate their emotions are showing their kids that they don’t have to be at the mercy of every single feeling. Evolved dads can feel their feelings and allow their children to do the same. They show their kids to express and channel their emotions in healthy ways.
You Make Good Decisions for Your Family
Just because you become a parent doesn’t mean you don’t want to do whatever you want. That’s the balancing act of parenthood, right? Good dads can balance what they want for themselves with the needs of their families. They make smart financial and personal decisions, like where to live, how much to spend and save, and what sort of sacrifices need to be made to ensure that the kids have what they need. Sure, getting that top-of-the-line jumbo TV might be awesome, but so is avoiding college debt.
You’re a Good Role Model and Teacher
A good dad is one who is both a positive role model and a willing teacher. Whether it’s sharing a passion for music or a love of building things, the best dads find ways to involve kids in the activities they enjoy doing most. This includes teaching them good lessons like eating healthy, doing chores without complaining, and treating partners with respect and love. On the flip side, great dads are open to understanding and supporting activities they know absolutely nothing about. Have you never tried modern dance? Well, now is as good a time as any.
So, let’s thank the dads in our lives who step up, do the right thing, show who they are, grow emotionally, and keep it real. The world needs good dads now more than ever.