Fatherhood is challenging. It’s far more difficult than I ever expected before becoming a dad almost two decades ago. But “daddy-hood” is a tremendous blessing in my life.
As my children are beginning to get a bit older and my role is gradually shifting in their lives, I’ve been doing a good amount of thinking about what it takes to be a great dad. I’ll be the first to confess I still have a long way to go.
So what does it take to become a great dad? Here are seven things to consider regarding what excellent fathers consistently do:
Great dads are involved in their kids’ daily lives and various extracurricular activities. Whether it be sports events, band concerts, dance or music recitals, debate competitions, church youth activities, boy or girl scouts, 4-H, the dads who are making the biggest difference in their children’s lives make the effort to be present. Granted, I understand that it’s not always possible, but it needs to be a priority.
Effective fathers are in the habit of actively and reflectively listening to what their kids are saying. These parents show genuine interest through their nonverbal and facial expressions. Dads who pay close attention to both the content of and feelings behind their children’s statements are on the right track. Great dads are tuned in to their children’s hearts—their hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, and concerns. They grasp the deeper—sometimes hidden—meaning of what their children are trying to communicate and what is really at stake for them.
Rather than assuming a passive stance—like a bump on a log, effective dads willingly share their knowledge, perspectives, and cautionary warnings with their kids. In other words, they impart godly wisdom and common sense when needed and offer insight to help guide their children’s footsteps down the safest, healthiest path. By earning their kids’ respect, great dads use their position of authority and influence to benefit their children’s present and bless their future.
Providing appropriate rules, proper boundaries, and age-appropriate discipline is essential when it comes to raising young people. The ultimate goal is to teach children the importance of self-discipline and self-regulation so that they turn into obedient, respectful, and responsible adults. Mature dads don’t shirk their parental role or relinquish their family leadership responsibilities to others, including their wives or other relatives. Instead, they fulfill their obligation with grace.
They pay up.
Great dads do their part to provide financially and materially for their children. Trustworthy men work hard to earn a decent living so as to adequately supply the physical needs of their family. They aren’t selfish or irresponsible with the money they make at their jobs. If good fathers happen to be separated or divorced for whatever reason from their children’s mother, they aren’t dead-beat dads who fail to consistently pay their fair share of the child-support. The Bible says that, “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, ESV).
They pray up.
The greatest dads are those who are consistently mindful of their children in their daily personal and family prayers. They are very intentional in remembering to ask God to protect and provide for their kids’ well-being. They petition God to some day supply godly spouses who will help their children walk faithfully and make it to heaven. They also ask God to help their children overcome temptations and weather trials as they grow and mature in their faith.
Great dads are constant encouragers of their children. Always looking for positive comments and compliments to share, they cheer their sons and daughters on to greater levels of personal growth, achievement, and success in their lives as they develop to their full potential. First-rate fathers seek strengths within their kids and highlight those positives so as to build up their children’s self-esteem. They affirm their kids to help them feel good about themselves and their futures.
In summary, great dads . . . show up, listen up, speak up, man up, pay up, pray up, and lift up their children.