There are many ways to be a great dad, but it doesn’t just happen … a great dad is made … through blood, sweat and tears. And he doesn’t just appear on Father’s Day. The best dads make the effort to be great dads. Fathers can start with these tips here.
I lost my dad a few years back and I still miss him so much. He was the person I turned to when things were real bad.
As an adult, while raising my first 6 kids, things were hard. They came to us when they were a little older, had spent years in foster care and lived through a lot of turmoil. There were many nights I would call my dad at midnight and talk for over an hour. He would listen and commiserate and pass no judgement.
When I was growing up, I always knew that he was on my team. I knew he loved me and really enjoyed spending time with me. It’s one of the things I want the most for my own kids to have … that unconditional love from their father.
This could only happen because he made the efforts when I was young. He made it happen by doing many of the things on the list below.
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Ways to Be a Great Dad
1. Love Their Mother
– My dad had this little plaque that hung on the wall in the bathroom the whole time I was growing up. It said, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I became a mother myself. I can see now what it’s all about, though. First and foremost, if you LOVE, really love your child’s mother, you will be a full partner in the parenting and household duties. You will make sure your wife has time to herself now and then and you will work together to figure this whole parenting thing out.
Be sure to figure out how best to not only get along, but to actually honor, cherish and respect their mother.
2. Say I Love You
– It used to be something dads didn’t do, but times have thankfully changed. I know that my dad grew up never having heard his dad say, “I love you.” I find that incredibly sad and am so grateful that he chose to tell us that he loved us every single day. Your kids can’t hear it enough so say it freely. Tell them every day how much you love them.
3. Give Affection
– There is no need to be shy when it comes to giving your kids affection. They will love it all and soak it up. Hug, cuddle, snuggle on the couch, give kisses.
4. Do All the Things
– From the get-go learn everything you need to know to care for them. Change diapers, rock to sleep, skin contact, how/what to feed, the schedule, literally everything. And have the confidence to be completely alone with your kids. Just think … if their mom can do it, so can you.
5. Make One-On-One Time
– You can start this when your kids are very young. Bath time is perfect to make your special time with your baby. Use that time to sing, smile, coo, laugh, all things that are soothing and create good feelings. As your kids get older it can transition to walks, trips to the park, running errands, and Daddy Date Nights.
6. Tuck in at Night
– This one is so, so good. Take that last 10 minutes of your kids’ day and snuggle, laugh, pray, and tell stories. This is a great time to be nice and quiet and hear about the good and bad of their day. You’ll get all kinds of clues about who they are as a person and what struggles they’re having or how they’re excelling. There’s something about the dark that helps kids open up and share.
7. Listen to Your Kids
– Children always have something to say and they have a need to be heard. It can be so easy to discount what our kids have to say because we are busy, distracted or think we know more. Kids have a lot to say and connecting with their hearts is not going to happen if we don’t truly hear what they’re saying.
8. Work Together
– Take your kids into the garage or the yard and work on projects together. Not only will you be teaching them the value of working, but there will be lots of space for conversation when you’re working side by side. You’ll be surprised how close you can become when your hands are at work together. The shared sense of accomplishment will lead to lingering good feelings as well.
9. Stop Yelling
– Your voice is big and loud, so when you yell it’s especially intimidating. You don’t need to yell to get your point across. It really just breaks down communication and shows that you’re not a safe person. Learn to lower your voice, instead. When you feel your blood boiling and that urge to yell starts to rise, get real quiet. Your kids will pay much better attention when they have to concentrate hard to hear you.
10. Be Involved
– Go to all their games and performances … go to the parent/teacher conferences … meet their friends’ parents … do the school drop-offs. Essentially, be a part of everything that you possibly can. I know that work schedules can interfere with a lot of involvement, and that is exactly why it is so important to be involved in everything possible when you can make the time. The best dads are always finding ways to be involved in their kids’ lives.
11. Play Hard
– Dads are the best at playing! Tickle your kids, throw them in the air, play chase, kick a soccer ball, play catch, run around at the park, do some underdogs, get down on the floor and wrestle, they will love it all. Don’t be shy or worry about looking silly – Just Do It! It will count for a lot. This is a great way to give their mom a break, too.
There are many, many ways to be a great dad, but they really all boil down to loving your kids. When you love your kids, you will be involved in their lives and give them what they need. The best fathers put in the work for their kids.
How did your dad show you that he loved you? And, did I miss anything in my list? Share your thoughts with us.
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