Fatherhood is sort of hot these days, huh?
Everywhere you turn there is some new discussion or article or TV report about how ‘stay-at-home-dads’ and ‘modern dads’ and ‘responsible dads’ have finally stepped up into their long shunned roles as equal partners in the parenthood thing.
Nowadays, the vast majority of adults have come to realize that even in the recent past, being a father in America often meant that you earned the main paycheck and maybe took the kids fishing or to a ball game a few times a year. Other than that, Mom did the bulk of the work. And along with that realization, we’ve come to understand that that simply wasn’t enough.
Raising children is tough, demanding work. It’s rewarding as hell, of course, but it’s also exhausting too.
So like pretty much everyone else, I tend to think that this whole Dad Renaissance, or whatever you want to call it, is way late in coming, but welcome nonetheless.
Of course, as times have changed and life has become increasingly complicated and high-tech and compartmentalized, just trying to define one’s expected role as a mom or a dad has also become a much grayer area. There are many types of parents out there doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
Still, if you ask me, I think there are some specific signs that any of us can look at to get an idea of what type of a man a man with children really is.
After all, as we’ve been discovering together lately: it’s one thing to be a father, but it’s an entirely different thing to be a dad…especially a great one.
What kind of father are you? 1 of 11
He controls his temper. 2 of 11
Nothing is harder than keeping your cool when your young kids are pushing every single one of your buttons. And yet, there has never been a more important time for a dad to remain calm either. Exploding around kids is never a good idea; I don't care who says that it is okay. Most people who scream and spank were screamed at...and hit. And what does that tell you?
He listens to his kids. 3 of 11
A really good dad listens to his kids when they talk to him, he doesn't just tune them out when he gets home from work or whatever. Yes, much of what they say in the early years of speaking is just talking for the sake of talking, but the dad who listens from an early age anyway will be rewarded later on with kids who know he is someone they can always talk to. Plus, you will learn some awesome stuff about how cool your own kids are, too.
He loves getting his hands dirty. 4 of 11
Dads who want to spend more time with their kids by giving them baths and helping them put their toys away and getting them dressed in the morning or into their PJs at night are the wise ones. See, you learn more about your little ones and will have a far stronger bond if you are the type of person who really wants to get in their and change diapers and wipe runny noses; it's just that simple. If you skip out on this stuff...you are cheating your kids, and yourself, big time.
He takes the kids by himself. 5 of 11
The very best dads all know that one-on-one time with kids is pretty much invaluable. And yeah, having your hands full with a hungry baby or a couple of tired, cranky toddlers when you're totally out there your own can be a real challenge, but so what? That's what great dads do. Trust me: it isn't always smooth sailing but grown men make some of the greatest memories in their life on those solo trips to the mall or the park, just them and the kids.
He cooks for the kids. 6 of 11
Great dads feed their kids. Preparing regular meals for the most important people in your life is a privilege and a joy that smart guys pick up on very early in their child's life. Nothing fancy required (unless that's your thing); just boiling up some hot dogs or microwaving some mac-and-cheese and serving it to your little hungry person invites good conversation and bonding...which is kind of the name of the game, isn't it?
He indulges their imaginations. 7 of 11
Dads who make blanket forts in the living room, play dinosaur chase in the backyard, and aren't afraid to become a pirate at the drop of a hat know that cradling and indulging your child's imagination is the greatest gift you will ever give them. When kids see that Dad supports their wild ideas, then they realize that dreaming big dreams is a really, really good thing. Plus, you win a kid's heart just a little bit more each time you help make them laugh or smile, don't you?
He reads to his kids. 8 of 11
Great dads know that even if you aren't a big reader, you shouldn't miss out on helping your kid become one. Books and reading are nothing short of miraculous when you stir them into any young child's bubbling cauldron of a mind. Stories and tales lead to knowledge and knowledge leads to better living and more happiness. And those are the things we desperately want our children to know. No doubt about it, dads who sit and read to their kids regularly and often are giving them one heck of a priceless gift.
He doesn’t miss much. 9 of 11
A great dad doesn't skip much when it come to his kids. He doesn't miss many Little League games or Saturday morning tumbling classes; when swimming lessons come up or ballet classes, well... he genuinely likes to go along. And if it's time for day trips or vacations, he makes every effort to be there for the duration, even though work might be nipping at his heels. Look, no parent can be there for every single thing their child is involved in, but they can sure as hell try to be.
He is not afraid of hugs and kisses. 10 of 11
Real men, the true tough guys, understand that no matter how gruff or introverted or unemotional they might be in their daily life, there is really no excuse for being that way with your own children. Kids want to be hugged and kissed and squeezed and tickled and they want to give that back to their daddy as well. The best fathers understand that cracking through your own shell, no matter how thick it might be, will make your son or daughter's life way better. 'Nuff said.
He wants to better than his dad was. 11 of 11
Each of us had a father somewhere out there in the world, and whether or not he was a good dad is something we must contemplate on our own. Regardless of the answer though, it is perfectly normal to want to be better than our parents were. It is perfectly normal for new fathers to say, "Hey, I want to learn from my own dad's mistakes and shortcomings. And I wanna try to do better for my kids." In fact, when you think about it, that's probably something that every great dad reminds himself of every single day...