Being a dad may be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Yes, it has been joyful. However, it has been difficult at times. I had (and have) a lot to learn.
Even as I write these words, I can envision a number of guys in the Central Texas area who are doing such a good job as “daddy.” The guys I have in mind are in their 30s and 40s. They continue to grow and learn. Some had good models growing up and some didn’t. Regardless, these guys have worked hard toward becoming good dads.
The following are some qualities of a good daddy:
1. A good daddy is consistent. Children get confused when a certain behavior causes dad to laugh one moment only to cause him to become angry thirty minutes later.
2. A good daddy models good character. Teaching a child is important. Good character that is modeled is powerful. However, bad character on display can make a lasting impression as well. When we lived in Kansas City many years ago, I heard our neighbor scream at his daughter one day. (She was about about six years old.) What he called his daughter was awful! I have wondered what this child, now 26 or 27 years of age, must remember about her home life.
3. A good daddy teaches his children by his example. Some fathers do far too much telling and too little showing. A mountain of good words does not compensate for a regular bad example. However, when a father models integrity, respect, and kindness before his children, they are blessed.
4. A good daddy allows his children the opportunity to see his faith. For example, when you are faced with a decision, it can be a real teachable moment for that son or daughter to hear you explain why you made the decision you did and how that decision flowed out of your faith.
5. A good daddy understands that “fussing” at a child, naming calling, or threatening is not discipline. Such behaviors may be more about a father’s own frustration and anger than serious, intentional discipline.
6. A good daddy counts the cost. One can “pay now” or “pay later.” It is so easy to ignore behavior that needs to be dealt with. After all, a dad might work hard all day and just not want to deal with a negative behavior. Yet, that doesn’t make the situation go away or disappear.
7. A good daddy focuses on what he is becoming rather than what he wishes to project. Kids see through us, far more than we may realize or desire. The challenge is not in what we project to our children but in what we are before them. My children will see me for what I am, not what I wish to project.
8. A good daddy understands that reality is based on history not promises. In other words, my history and past behavior with my children tells them more than any promise I might make.
9. A good daddy models an unselfish spirit. He looks out for the interests and needs of his spouse and his children. This really hit me when my children were in middle school and high school. Being a daddy took time and energy. There were times when I would come home from work and want to do nothing but watch a basketball game on television. Yet, one would need help with homework or want to talk about her day. I had to deal with my own desire to do what I wanted to do.
10. A good daddy is a grown up. Some dads may be tempted to simply be a friend or a pal to their children. This one took me some time to learn. At times, I would be tempted to speak immaturely or handle a situation in an immature way. I remember thinking at times, “Is this really the kind of example that you want to set before your girls?”
What else would you add to this list?