Happy Father’s Day to All the Dads!
The joy my grandson feels when he’s with his dad is apparent! I’m grateful for the investment my son-in-law makes in being a loving dad!
Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – Wade Boggs
I was lucky enough to not have just a father, but to have a daddy, a title I called him until his death 11 years ago. What does it take to earn the coveted name of dad, daddy, pops, papa, or any of the other endearments we call good fathers? Here are the qualities I believe elevate a man from father to the next level of dad:
1. Be there.
It sounds simple enough, but it is vital. Show up for significant events like plays, recitals, sporting events, and graduations but also consistently be there for everyday activities like family dinner, helping with homework, and tuck-in time.
2. Treat their mother with kindness and respect.
Whether you are married/in a relationship with the mother of your kids or no longer together, you owe it to your children to model good behavior towards their mother. No matter how tempting it may be to vent your negative feelings, do not talk negatively about the mother of your child.
3. Invest your time.
Find a special hobby or interest to share with each child. Make each child feel like they are worthy of your time and attention. Time is our most valuable but fleeting commodity. Spend it where it counts.
4. Tell them you love them.
That may seem obvious, but I know many grown adults who have yet to hear it from their fathers. One of my saddest memories is at my aunt’s funeral, my grandfather stood at her casket, crying and repeating, “I love you” over and over. She had yearned to hear it all her life, and he had never said it. Don’t wait, tell your kids you love them today and every day of their lives.
5. Have fun with them.
Play is important; it’s the work of children and how they learn the ways of the world. When you laugh and play with them, they feel the joy and internalize it as love. What a self-esteem boost for a child to know you take delight in being with them.
6. Accept them for who they are, even if they don’t fit your mold.
Put aside your expectations and love your child unconditionally for who they are. This can be a challenging proposition in some circumstances, but it is essential.
7. Know them.
Do you know their best friends’ names, their dreams and fears, what makes them happy? To feel seen, heard, and known is to also feel loved.
8. Be willing to apologize.
Being a parent is difficult at times, and we all make mistakes. Forgiveness is easier if a parent can admit to being wrong and ask his children for forgiveness.
9. Give praise freely.
Children need to hear their parents praise them, and specific praise is most effective. Build them up to face the world with a strong sense of self.
10. Be their soft place to land.
Creating this feeling involves trust and a secure relationship. Make sure they know you will always be their support, their safe place, the person who picks up the pieces when they fall apart. When a child knows they have a soft place to land at home, they feel braver and more confident to be in the world.
Being a father is an easy biological act; being a dad requires commitment and effort. It goes way beyond the 1950s model of only being expected to bring home the paycheck and mow the lawn. The payoff of being an involved parent is enormous for you and your child. Happy Father’s Day to all the men who invest themselves in being dad, daddy, papa, pops to their children. You make the world a better place for all of us!
We married when my daughters were 11 and 12.
Through the years, he invested himself as a father to earn his place in their hearts.
A genetic connection is not a requirement for being a dad.