“Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.”
— Author Unknown
I’m no expert on being a father. After all, based on my experience at the time, no one would have hired me for the job 14 years ago.
Still, here I am. And after being around a lot of other dads, and having observed their behavior and their children during that time, it seems to me there some key characteristics that separate great dads from good dads.
- They are always there. When the children of great dads are young, the great dads stay home every chance they get. With very few exceptions, they are home every night and every weekend. They volunteer at schools in the classroom. They drive the children to activities. They learn who their child’s friends are. If a big project is due at work, they’ll still find time to play catch for a few minutes. And on those rare occasions when they have to be away, they are still there – somehow.
- They listen. The great dads learn to listen to what’s important and when to step back. They also create activities where they are forced to listen – reading to their children, playing games, taking walks, etc. They listen more than they talk.
- They act. If an opportunity arises for the children of great dads, they make sure that their child knows about it. If a chance to do something fun together comes up, the great dads are there. They do a lot with their children. They are not glued to the t.v. on Sundays. They are active. They give time.
- They are positive. The great dads know that if they are constantly complaining about politics, neighbors, government, or work, their children will mimic them, limiting their children’s opportunities. They never say things like “Math isn’t important” or “I never understood music.” They learn with their children.
- They teach. The great dads teach by example and with intent. They not only teach what they know, but they try to learn as much as they can as well. In the classroom, they listen to their children’s teachers and try to reinforce, not contradict, what the teacher is trying to teach.
- They are patient. The great dads allow for lots of errors and mistakes. They learn to not react at every indiscretion. They understand that children are “adults in training” and act accordingly. Even when they can’t be patient, they still try to look out for the long-term interest of the child.
- They are creative. The great dads look for unique ways to keep their children interested. They check the to-do websites. They look for parks. They use the internet to find unique games to play.
- They love their wives. And the great dads try really, really hard to show it. With flowers, with an “I love you” in front of their children. With help around the house. With smiles.
- They admit their wrong. The great dads are often wrong and admit it. With conviction.
- They are not bosses. But the great dads do have high expectations.
- They are not perfect. But the great dads strive to improve.
- They know that everyday is Father’s Day. Because the great dads know that being a father is a privilege, an honor, and a responsibility. Everyday.
I may never become a great dad, but I’ll be darn sure I tried my best to be one.
Happy Father’s Day. To every good dad out there who tries hard to be a great dad.
Today’s gift of time … Packed, loaded, transported, drove, and delivered three of my own children, one of my son’s friends, four suitcases, a flute, a clarinet, a french horn, a tuba, a bass guitar, and an amplifier to band camp. It was, as always, a great day to be a dad.