What are Qualities of a Good Father?
My Dad is without a doubt what I consider a prime example of a good father. He has all the qualities of a good Father that I am about to cover.
To be clear, I have to tell you that calling my Dad a “good Father” feels like I smacked him in the face. But this article is not (completely) to brag about my old man. It is to try and pin down what are the qualities of a good father. To quantify what a good father is, as best I can, so we as Fathers-in-development can have something to shoot for.
A child throwing a temper tantrum. A Dad not smacking them or screaming, that’s my gut check image of patience.
However, patience is a lot more than that. While short term patience is VERY important it needs to coincide with patience almost as a life style. To be clear, I am not advocating being a doormat. However this is not a perfect world-kids act out sometimes. Anyone can yell at a child and tell them to knock it off. Yelling without teaching doesn’t explain anything except but that yelling is normal. Sometimes a stern quick reminder is what is needed, but not a unchecked and pointless roar.
More often however keeping calm, explaining not only that something is wrong, but why that action is wrong and the choice that should have been made. I always thought the “what should you have done?” approach was effective, a little guilt goes a long way. Choosing to (or not to)be patient and using teachable moments helps a child understand how and why we act the way we do on a daily basis. For better or worse.
Patience also can come in the form of doing what is right, the right way. Even when a child may not appreciate or understand why for a VERY long time, if ever. I for one am extremely lucky that my Father had this skill set.
I believe most people think of money or things when someone says generous. While those are nice and can helpful at certain times in life, there are more important things to be generous with. One great example is time. There is a finite amount of time, you cannot make more and you never know when your supply may run out.
Dad hadn’t yet gone back to school when I was still an only child. As a result, I usually enjoyed days with Dad while mom worked, Dad would do the overnight shift. Yes those days were awesome!! Legos and kids shows galore! (Dad would sneak naps during movies). After a while my father worked several jobs and went to school. Because of that my siblings and I saw a lot more of my Mother than my Dad during those years (she is a great parent herself).
But whatever time he did have outside of work and school was generally OURS. Dad was always available, he was never too busy to hang out and watch Bambi for the 98th time. If we wanted to help hang lights for Christmas we would go out with Dad, even if it meant it took longer because we didn’t really help. If we asked a question we got an explanation…not always accurate but he did his best ( I asked a lot of weird questions as a kid I’m told). I can’t recall ever really being told “I’m too busy”. If there was a scheduling conflict with one of our requests, it got figured out one way or another. I can’t thank him enough for his generosity of attention and time, it is definitely an example I try to hold myself to.
My father did not always understand why I did some of the things I did. However, his support was not contingent on understanding.
I made some horrible choices over the years, not always but it happened. In the inevitable aftermath of said choices it was always made very clear to me that: I was loved and had his support regardless. Maybe not support of whatever poor choice, but I had a sounding board; advice if I wanted it; reassurance that all was not lost-this is temporary; a reminder we all screw up, but learn from it.To me that was beyond huge.
I have things I relate to with my Dad and we have a great relationship. This does not mean I didn’t realize growing up that we tended to see the world a bit differently. Dad was a bit more “don’t make things harder on yourself bud”, this is how the world works even if it isn’t completely right. I constantly begged the question “Why?”: Why is that a rule? Why can’t I exploit a loophole? Why hasn’t anyone done that?
He never, ever tried to keep me from being me. My Dad wanted how I may be perceived and/or any possible ramifications of my actions to be understood. I loved trying to “stick it to the man” or just be plain different. Secretly I think he got a kick out of it sometimes. I know it caused some of his gray hair as well.
Make Them Feel Like The Luckiest Kid
Dad didn’t always “get it”, whatever my “it” of the moment was. But damn if it wasn’t awesome seeing him grin and chuckle when I would get a wild hair. Always with a big hug and an “I love ya”. I’d run off on another half-baked idea knowing my Dad had my back, no matter what. If I had not had that feeling, I would not be who I am now.
Perhaps a bit corny ( I don’t care) but this is how my Dad viewed his kids.
This is not by any means an all-encompassing article. This is what I feel is a base for the qualities of a good father. If you have these the rest tend to follow. Knowing when to be strict, when to be lenient, when to be brutally honest and when to throw a little sugar on top. Those are all qualities of a good Father that find their base in these three. Every other skill a Dad should have won’t work without some or all of these in some cases.
Start strong with the fundamentals, the rest will come. We are all just making it up as we go.