How to Be a Great Dad - 8 Tips for Nailing Fatherhood
“How to be a great dad?”
The question on every father's mind.
Whether you're a father of one or a father of five, you have one heck of a job ahead of you.
You’ve been blessed with boys, girls, or both, and you have to shape them into well-adjusted, conscientious and hardworking adults.
No big deal, right?
However, it’s not as complicated as so-called experts make it sound. While this tiny article can’t tell you everything, we certainly have eight ways that being a dad can become that much easier for you.
There are going to be days when you just love your children, and you couldn’t be more happy to have youngsters coming up to you and calling you “Dad.” And, there are going to be days when you want to strap a pair of wings onto them and tell them to fly south for the winter.
You’re going to lose your cool at some point. It's ok, and you most certainly are not alone. Try to react in a way you want to be treated when you are causing someone frustration: calm. It's OK to take a walk, take a couple deep breathes, count to ten or do another healthy action when you feel frustrated with your child.
I find when I mediate consistently, this helps me tremendously.
Read Early and Often
Don’t consider yourself a reader? Time to change that.
Kids love books, and in a world of screens, we as dads can do them a huge favor by getting them into reading at a young age. You can do this at ANY age. It might seem silly to read to a six-month-old, but believe me, they are hearing your words and they love looking at your facial expressions. And, they LOVE spending time with you!
Books get your kids into the healthy habit of reading and also gets them into learning about stuff they care about; toddlers for instance LOVE dinosaur books. It is an activity that can be done at any age and provides you and your kid special time together.
I read the kids a bedtime story every singe night. It's a non-negotiable for us.
You work hard. Perhaps you're putting in overtime at the office or job site because it means you can spend more on your family, pay off debt or save up for a trip to Disney World. This is noble and commendable.
But don’t be that dad who’s never there. Be the dad who comes to that track meet, that dance recital, that science fair. Be the dad who cheers on your kid, even if they didn’t do so well. Be the dad your kids can ask for help with studying for their test, or for some advice on how to handle issues with friends at school.
Set aside time for your kids each and every day to talk to them about how things are going and what they’ve got coming up. Ask questions, listen, be present.
Related: 6 Ways to Teach Empathy to Children
This is an area I am constantly working on, as I have room for improvement. Lately, the kids and I have been playing Old Maid before going to bed, and they love beating dad.
Be Great to Your Partner
Don’t go against your partner in front of the kids. Don't fight with your partner in front of the kids. And of course, never, ever harm your partner verbally or physically in front of the children (or ever, for that matter).
Young boys and men need to learn what it means to be a man, part of which is being respectful, kind and grateful to the women in his life. You must lead by example. Young girls and women need to know that spouses are protectors, business partners and helpers- and dear, loyal friends to be respected and cared for.
Modeling healthy relationship behavior and supporting your partner helps your kids learn how to treat their future partners, too. They learn from watching much more than being told on how to do something.
Be Great to Yourself
Exercise daily, prepare healthy meals for you and your family, and quit the smoking and/or drinking. If you are religious or spiritual, devote time to prayer and scripture reading. Meditate. Drink enough water. Get time to yourself, even if it's 15 minutes before going to bed, or waking up a bit earlier.
Show your kids what it means to respect yourself with healthy habits and watch your kids grow into healthy adults.
Do All Duties
Back in our grandparents’ days, the men would go to work, and the women would rear the kids. The men would come home to their slippers while the women prepared dinner. Times have changed!
Do nontraditional household chores. Clean the kitchen. Change diapers. Put clothes in the dryer. Make dinner, even if it’s setting everybody up with bowls of cereal and milk. Showing your kids, you love them through caring for them like this has a huge impact.
Teach Money Matters
Money is a big deal, and we learn very young what money means to us. Youngsters LOVE opening their birthday cards and seeing that green stuff!
This doesn’t mean teaching your 18-month-old about stocks. This means teaching what it means to save, spend and give to charity. It means teaching the value of how hard it is to earn money, and how to be smart with it. The schools are not going to teach this, so it's your job to teach this very important topic that'll serve them for the rest of their lives.
Let Them Make Choices
Kids who never decide for themselves never get to experience freedom and autonomy. Offer your kids a little power here and there by letting them decide a few things. For example, offer them the choice between two tee shirts to wear to school. Offer them the choice of two healthy dinners. Offer them their choice of bedtime story.
This allows them to make decisions, but under discretions YOU choose. Because, we all know that if left to their own devices, kids would eat Kit Kats for breakfast, read that obnoxious book about farting dogs again for bed, and wear a shirt with stains on it for school.
Wrapping It Up - How to Be a Great Dad
How to be a great dad does not require absolute perfection. Perfection is a myth and completely unattainable.
What it does require is a gentle hand, an ear for listening, a shoulder to cry on and tough love, when it's necessary.
Simple, daily actions go a long way in showing your children and spouse how much you care- and you will see these actions pay off as time goes on. Remember, fatherhood is the toughest, but most rewarding, job you will ever have.
Enjoy every damn moment!