I’m doing something a little different this week. I asked some moms I like and respect to share their opinions on what it takes to be a good dad. Some are from popular blogs you’ve heard of, some are new bloggers you may not have heard of, and some are highly-successful “Mompreneurs.” Let’s dive in!
If you like what you read from these ladies, be sure to check out their websites and follow them on social media, if you aren’t already (I included their info at the end of their thoughts). Enjoy!
Home Made Mimi
1. ROCK HARD ABS: OK, fine, we’ll settle for regular trips to the gym. Fatherhood is a lifelong commitment– a great dad takes care of his body. He gets regular checkups, wears his seatbelt, and says no to drugs. Whether it’s pick-up basketball or an evening jog– a great dad oils his machine so he can last the long haul for his family.
2. A BIG FAT WALLET: Well, let’s start with a good financial plan. Smart money-management is key to creating a stress-free, happy home-life. A willingness to craft this plan as a team is also important. He works hard, you work hard, all toward a common goal. Like a trip to Disneyland. And there’s no better way to earn a World’s Greatest Dad coffee mug than to announce that trip.
3. CLOWN SKILLS: Primarily juggling. A great dad can put his own stuff aside to tend to his kids’ constantly changing needs. He knows when to give hugs and when to make them laugh. A great dad anticipates game changes and rolls with them, like taking the kids out for pizza when mom really needs a bubble bath. In the family circus, a great dad keeps us smiling.
Aimee Helfand (Baby League CEO)
Life is very different today than when we were kids. We didn’t have to contend with cell phones, iPads, laptops, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to spend quality time with our parents. There certainly were other distractions, but nothing like today. So in my humble opinion, what makes a good dad is one who puts those distractions aside to give his child undivided attention and love as much as he’s able. Life is busy, no doubt. There aren’t enough hours in a day for moms and dads. However, one thing has never changed…a child wants QUALITY TIME with their parent more than anything else in the world. There isn’t a gift money can buy more valuable than that and, as a stellar example of a father recently shared, “I always have time for you” is the new “I love you.” AGREED.
Rene Syler (Good Enough Mother)
But I think the biggest thing is that his relationship with them has deepened. They’re teenagers now (aka: prickly) and when he worked in Manhattan, he would get on a train at 7:00 AM and not get home until about 8:00 PM. His relationship with them consisted of him yelling and them slamming doors (I know; you can’t wait). It’s totally different now and I’m so happy that this is the dad they’ll remember most.
In short.. he’s a really cool dude, doin’ good work.
Where’s MY Pacifier?
My definition of a good dad is someone who is there unconditionally yet also has your best interest at heart. A good dad to me is the man of the household. Yes, call me traditional but that is how I grew up. My mother is the CEO of our enterprise (our household) but daddy makes it work. Daddy makes sure his whole family is provided for no matter what.
He is a hard working man and knows that his family always comes first no matter what regardless of any situation. Also he is a loving man. He is not afraid to show his emotions and not afraid to express them. He understands the complexity of a woman and mother and embraces those complexities to make him a better daddy. He understands that his children are a part of him and makes it his duty to love, support, and encourage them as if they are his only priorities in the world. Daddy is the ultimate man in their eyes. No one can top or ever compare to a daddy that has been around for their children. It’s something that comes with the “daddy territory.” Once that’s in existence – no word, no bond, could ever come between a daddy and child.
Hot Mess Mom
When my first child was born, my pediatrician told us, “No child has ever suffered from his parents loving each other. Make sure you take to time to connect. Go to dinner. Get sitters. Spend weekends away. I promise your child will not suffer.”
He was right.
My husband is a great father, but it’s only partly because of his relationship with our children. Sure, he plays catch and rides bikes. He takes them to sporting events and wrestles them to the ground. He educates them in history and shares with them his musical tastes. He lets them watch, eat, and do things that I would never approve of. He makes them pancakes on Saturdays and builds campfires in the yard. He’s their dad. He’s their friend. He’s their idol.
That being said, I believe what makes him a GREAT father is his ability to keep ME calm and keep me laughing. My children are being raised in a house of laughter and sarcasm. If it weren’t for my husband, it would also be a house of yelling and hair-pulling. He’s the Ying to my Yang. I am wild and he is calm. I have a short fuse, he holds the extinguisher. We’ve always said that we are raising “men,” not boys. I teach them how to be men with words. He teaches them by example. John Wooden said, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” I say “The best thing a father can do for his children is to keep their mother from losing her effing mind.” Oh, and sexing her up real good. Yeah.. that.
Slice of Humble
In my perspective, what makes a great father is a father (not limited to gender of course, or sharing DNA, but one who has accepted the title of Dad) who desires to be connected to a child. Not just in day-to-day interactions but to have a bond. An affection, a trust, and a belief that above all other things in life, their role as being that child’s “person,” is more important than anything else. ANYTHING ELSE. In order for a child to be successful at life, they need just ONE person who believes in them, guides them, shows them affection and trusts them. Great dads strive to be that child’s person. The kind of dad they wish they had, or the kind of dad they were lucky enough to have. They show their child a love that they deserve to see in their spouses and give to their own children. It’s quite easy this whole parenting thing, aside from the horror of colic and 2 year olds of course. Oh and the asshole 9 year olds, watch out for those. But the rest is alright. Kind of.
Rachel Pitzel (Club MomMe Founder and CEO)
Everyone who knows my story knows that I cannot speak from the experience of having co-parented with a “good dad.” In fact, my only experience of co-parenting was one straight out of a bad Lifetime Network movie or horror film. Having had such a horrible experience, I can only speak about what I would want from the father of my children.
Having made the mistake of picking the worst dad in the universe, I would now accept nothing less from a man than the standards of parenting to which I hold myself. True parenting requires selflessness to the degree that you would be willing to lay down your own life for your children. A good dad should look like what a good mom is to society. He should be a teacher, a mentor, a caretaker, a storyteller, a nurse…or whatever his children need him to be. He should be present not just physically and financially, but he should be fully emotionally present too. He should be the kind of man he would want to see his own daughters with someday – the kind of man his children are proud to call their father.
Fumbling Toward Naptime
It’s hard for me to say what makes a great dad. Though, to be honest, I suspect that I was raised by one (along with a great mother). But then again, I was such an easy child to raise—perfect manners, always sweet, incredibly helpful, humble, essentially flawless—that I probably would have made ANY parent look good. Heck, a MONKEY could have raised me. Okay, maybe I had one teensy little flaw. Hardly worth mentioning. But, as a child, I was fiercely afraid of thunderstorms. I was paralyzed by this fear. So, for years, my father would always seek me out as soon as the skies started to darken and there was rumbling in the distance. He just wanted to make sure I was okay. And provide a few words of comfort. Sweet guy. You know, now that I think about it, I might have had one other small flaw. There were a few months—okay, FINE, a few years—of my childhood during which I was a selective mute. I was a regular chatterbox with my family. But around anyone I didn’t know or trust: SILENCE. If this embarrassed my father (a rather gregarious guy himself), he never let on. Or gave me a hard time about it. And eventually I outgrew it. (And was flawless once again.) Patient guy.
He needed that patience. My father was the one who taught me to ride a bicycle. Or at least he tried. I didn’t catch on quickly. This was NOT a character flaw. It was a very unusual and vastly underdiagnosed physical inability. I. COULD. NOT. DO. IT. I explained this to my father in a calm, rational manner. By which I mean I screeched, “I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO RIDE A BICYCLE!” at a frequency that was probably only audible to dogs. My father calmly accepted this information. But, against all reason, persevered. Oddly enough, one day, while my father was patiently running alongside my bicycle (for the 83rd time) he gradually released the hand that had been firmly planted on the back of the seat. And I kept going. I can’t explain it. I guess it was a miracle. And one that my father reminded me of FOR THE REST OF MY CHILDHOOD whenever I used the words “can’t” or “never.” Wise fellow. I could tell you more about my father—how he told me bedtime stories each night, sang to me, and taught me to skip rocks, throw a ball, check tire pressure, and drive a car. But you get the point. I guess great dads are just THERE. To love you. To support you. To teach you. To help mold your sense of who you are. My dad often looked at me smiling and said, “That’s my girl!” I assume he was eager to point this out, because I was so flawless. Or maybe, he just made me believe I was. Wait a second . . .
A good Dad is in the middle of all of the action that defines a family. He is the resident wrestler, the master tickler and the one who builds the small bike ramps for the kiddos in the driveway or the large sledding ramps in the snow. He is the one who lets the kiddos do the things that make the Mommas say, “Whoa now! That looks dangerous!” He’s the partner that knowingly smiles and winks at the Momma and says, Come on now, let them try.
A good Dad is also one who balances the work and fun that defines a family. He is game to get involved in the cooking and the cleaning and the laundry, but also manages to live and thrive in the clutter that a really good Lego project requires. He is the one who knows that playtime is just as important as work time. He is the one who sends the text to the tired working Momma on her way home that says, “House messy. Kids happy. Want a sandwich?”
And a good Dad is a professional improviser. He knows how to make things work when things are broken or lost and is the one willing to walk the kiddos to the bus stop in the rain, using a couple of beach umbrellas.
Oh Boy Mom
A good dad never stops trying to be a great dad. He never stops giving hugs, teaching respect, and encouraging his kids to dream big, having faith in their abilities. A good dad tells his kids to not be afraid of failure because that is how they will achieve success. A good dad shows his sons how to love a woman, by treating his wife with love and affection. A good dad shows his daughters that they are strong, independent, and beautiful both inside and out. A good dad is goofy. A good dad pays attention. A good dad plays catch. A good dad cries when his son is ill and does whatever it takes to make sure he gets better.
I’ve watched my husband, a good dad, become an awesomely great dad after our son was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor a few months ago. He has cried, researched, discussed, and subsequently found the best possible doctors and medical care for our son. He then cared for our other two sons for 6 weeks by himself while I lived in another state with our ill child so that he could receive the best possible treatment and he did this all while trying to run his own company and keep our family financially afloat. Good dad, right? I hope you’ll agree.
Mamas Around The House
A good dad is interested in understanding his kids as people and learning what their likes, dislikes, and enjoyments are (and working with those). A good dad takes time for himself as a person and knows his limits, but is willing to put aside his enjoyment to teach life lessons to his children (for example, will put aside the book he’s reading to explain to his children that everyone is having personal quiet time and that when that is over he will help them build their robot). A good dad has patience and recognizes when he needs help from another adult because his patience or mental energy is waning. A good dad is internally motivated to enjoy his time with his children and for them to enjoy it as well. He is willing to focus on the child’s likes (watch Dora, play Potato Heads) rather than say, “But I don’t want to do that so I won’t do that with you.” A good dad is a role model for positive behaviors but recognizes when he has modeled negative behaviors and apologizes for those, explaining his behaviors.
Do you have a favorite answer? Make your voices heard in the comment section!