This month is father’s day, and many of us are getting ready to celebrate our dads or the father figures in our lives. It is an important celebration for anyone lucky enough to have a great father. This day, however, makes you stop for a moment and think: What makes a good dad? So let’s reflect on that thought.
What Makes A Good Dad?
I was lucky enough to grow up with an amazing father. This man was at every single one of my sports games, piano recitals, graduations, and more. He took us for bike rides, played frisbee with us, and drove us all over the place to whatever activity or playdate we had. To this day, if I need something fixed or I need advice, I can call my dad. No matter how far away I go, he somehow still always manages to have my back. He is, by all accounts, a really good dad.
David More and Paul Florsheim wrote a book on this complex topic in which they asked expectant fathers what it meant to them to be a good dad. Previously, according to traditional societal norms, a good dad was the breadwinner who took care of the family financially. The majority of the emotional support comes from the mother. These soon-to-be dads, however, didn’t talk much about financially supporting their families. Rather, they spoke about being there for their kids – simply showing up and being present. (1)
Emotional Engagement Is Crucial
An increasing number of studies are being done on the importance of a strong, present, and caring father figure in a child’s development. These studies have found that babies with emotionally engaged dads have better mental development when they reach their toddler years. They are also less likely to have behavioral problems later on. These children are more likely to have good relationships with teachers and classmates and, in general, have higher life satisfaction. (2)
“The factors that lead to the formation of relationships are exactly the same for mother and father,” says psychologist Michael Lamb. “It really comes down to the emotional availability, recognizing the child’s needs, responding to those, providing the comfort and support that the child needs.” (2)
Daughters with good relationships with their fathers are less likely to participate in risky sexual behavior when they are older, and boys are more likely to have higher emotional intelligence and self-confidence. (3)
Good Fathers Bond With Their Kids
Good dads use a variety of ways to bond with their kids. They play with them, celebrate their wins, and help them through their losses. These fathers support their children – no matter what their sexual orientation might be or what career path they choose. They take care of their kids and are just as integral a part of raising the children as the mother is. Simple, everyday things like helping with their homework or making a meal together for the whole family can go a long way in promoting father-child bonding. (3)
Traditional Gender And Family Norms Be Gone
In the traditional nuclear family, the father goes out to work every day, and the majority of the childcare falls on the mother. In today’s society, that is slowly beginning to change. The importance of having both parents involved in a child’s life is becoming ever more apparent. It is no longer sufficient for the father to simply be the financial breadwinner of the family – he needs to be an active part of his children’s daily lives. Good fathers understand this and work hard to be the person their kids need them to be. (1, 3)
“I basically think that [a father] should… try his best to provide for his family and give ’em a place to live, and food to eat… as well as spend time with his family — know what I’m sayin’? He can’t be basically about working, working, working, and not home with his family, with his kids.” says expectant father Cleo. (1)
Good Dads Are There For Their Kids
At the end of the day, good dads are good dads because they love their children, and they want to be there for them. It’s not hard to show up to your kid’s soccer game when you genuinely enjoy watching them play and have fun. It’s not difficult to be there on the opening night of the school play when you’ve spent the last month helping your child learn their part. Finally, it’s not hard to support your kids in both failures and successes because you love them unconditionally. These are the good dads, and they deserve to be celebrated. Not just on father’s day, but every day.
- “What Does It Mean to Be a Good Dad? The Answer Is More Complex Than Ever.” Fatherly. David More, Paul Florsheim. February 3, 2020
- “The secret of being a good father.” BBC. Sophie Hardach. June 11, 2019
- “What does it mean to be a good father to your son? Hint: It’s a lot more than playing ball.” The Conversation. Adam Davies.