This parent thing is such an important topic and needs to be talked about and considered. I have had a little experience and know something about it having raised 4 adult kids that have turned into great examples of parents themselves. (No bragging intended.)
A Good Father …
1. Shows by doing.
This was an easy one. You know the off the mark, remark “Do as I say not as I do”. The only way your kids are going know about work, love, duty, discipline or God is by observing you.
You have to show your kids how it is to be a mature adult, parent and man. It is a 24/7 job and you can never lapse in this responsibility. Remember your kids will “Do as you do”.
2. Gives of his time.
Guys have a totally different view of time than their wives.
Somehow we men feel we are in charge of our time and we have the right to dole it out to others as we see fit. Part of it is this is a “I work and you don’t idea” so I deserve to have control of all the other time in my life.
Even when our wives work we have this different idea of our time and our work.
So as a dad understand from the start you have to give up your time a lot of it for the sake of the family and the children.
3. Is consistent yet flexible.
Do what you say and stick to it.
But understand that some things don’t fit in all situations and with all people. So you have to be able to move a little bit when it comes to discipline, schedules and expectations.
Your kids and your life is a unique experience and you need to be able to stand firm on ground that isn’t solid much of the time.
4. Is not afraid to show vulnerability.
This human thing we’re doing is a process.
We are all growing and hopefully getting better at it or at least we should be. You are not perfect though you want to be. Show your soft side to the kids. Let them know that even parents make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry”. Don’t be afraid to admit that you are afraid sometimes.
5. Is present, is there.
Too many times we are there in the flesh but not in the spirit.
Guys have a way of focusing that causes them to only see and do what they are concentrating on. Video games, TV shows, sports, we all have as way of tuning out whatever else is going on around us. The kids and our spouses ask questions and we respond with a grunt or a nod and never turn to engage or really reply. This guy focus can be a good thing when we need to hunt or fix things or survive. But it is a problem when we are in charge of a thriving, demanding and wriggling mass, called family. We have to fight this one mindedness and be there, in the moment, for our family.
6. Loves their mother.
It goes without saying you are on a team with your spouse. You have to be together and on the same page. But the key to the whole thing is you need to love the team and your teammate your spouse.
7. Knows his priorities and his kids and family are at the top of the list
For so many men they are what they do. Get a bunch of guys together and they talk about their job. Their job defines them. Little boys are always asked what they are going to be when they grow up. Understand this it is important to have a job. It is important to provide for your family, however this is not who you are. You are married first and a parent second then you have a job third to provide for the marriage and family. Men should know that their priorities have got to be put in order and the order is family first no matter what.
A good job provides for the needs of the family, a good job is not what you are.
8. Tells a good bedtime story.
The most important thing a dad can do for his kids is to be a story teller.
Your kids are sponges for the information and learning you provide. There is no better time to be with the kids, then when they are settled down, ready for bed. They want you to tell them stories. Traditional stuff is great, read to them, but don’t be afraid to tell them your story and their part in the ongoing story of their lives. Make up stories and be creative with the tales you tell. Take the time for talk and tales. Build the story telling relationship early and often. As the kids get older have them help you tell a tale. Have fun; build a close relationship with your children through story telling.
9. Can change a diaper.
There is no such thing as women’s jobs and men’s jobs. Know this and swear by it. Dirty diapers, noses and hands are a part of this thing called parenting. Men do not have a get out of diaper changing card. They have changing stations in the men’s rooms of most public restrooms.
Just suck it up and do the jobs that need to be done.
10. Doesn’t have all the answers but is looking for them.
Being a dad can be a big responsibility.
Much is expected of you as a dad. But understand this you do not have to know it all or fake like you know it all. Admitting that you don’t have to be all knowing can get a load off your shoulders. But ignorance is not an excuse. This parenting thing is a learning thing and the learning never stops. Growing and learning with your kids is the greatest example you can provide them with. Be a lifelong learner and you will be the best parent you can be.
11. Is a man and knows what that means.
We live a world that is gender confused. Things are not like they were when in the 50’s and 60’s Father Knew Best and the Cleavers were in charge. The world was never like that anyway.
Contemporary men are someplace between John Wayne and Woody Allen.
We are somewhere between Superman and Scooby Doo. All of these are caricatures of what a true man is and should be. Do not aspire to be what you are not and cannot be. You are a man that God made and God molded. Do not allow the “media” be your role model. Look to the elders in your church and community for what the qualities of manliness should be. So many men have grown up without a father in their home, or if there was a dad he was there, but noncommittal to providing a model of manhood.
Men today are called to have much more responsibility in the running of the household and child-rearing. Embrace this new view of what a father is. Your role, like this changing world, is different now, and yet it is no less important than when men went out to kill dinosaurs for the family. The key has always been to love your wife and family with everything you have and to enjoy your place as the man in this thing called fatherhood.
Frank J Walker LMFT
1617 Main Street
Cambria, Ca. 93428