I regularly ask myself “Am I a good Father?” – Sometimes, because it’s because I have doubts and feel like I did something wrong; in many cases, however, it’s because I want to constantly evaluate myself: Am I doing a good “job”?
I know I’m not alone in this, and many of you must also ask yourselves the same question. But how can you judge what makes a good dad? I’ve tried to figure out which questions I should answer to find this out, and you can find the results at the end of this article. But first I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts about being a dad and see if I can give us all some clues to help answer this age-old question.
I personally believe that all any child really wants is your love. Some parents may seem like they are doing a good job because they go through the motions. But truly, deeply loving your kid, telling them every day how special they are to you, and showing them by the way you care for them, is of the most value to any child.
1. Setting Boundaries
My son Benjamin, is now three years old. Since the day he was born, I’ve tried to be the best father I could possibly be for him. I’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way, and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn plenty more as he grows up.
I find myself looking at my friends and the relationships they have with their kids. I know people with children that I don’t particularly warm to, they are disrespectful of their parents, sulky, spiteful and self-possessed and I wonder if they were just born that way or if it is the way their parents are parenting them.
I worry that if I do something wrong with my own parenting, that my son may turn out just like theirs, or worse. Then other people I know have amazing children, who are delightful to be around, happy, kind, caring and respectful. I so want Benni to turn out like this, so I try to look at the differences in the ways these two types of children are being brought up by their parents.
From my observation of others, I try to understand how I might improve my own parenting skills and it seems to me that the parents who set zero boundaries for their children and continually give in to their every want and demand are those with the worst behaved kids. For this reason, I try really hard to ensure Benni knows what the boundaries are. This isn’t always easy with a young child, as explaining why he can’t do things can be tricky.
2. Being Involved
The fact that my son wants to be with me and that my wife and I are happy in our relationship makes me think I/we must at least be doing something right. I work hard, but I also make as much time as I can to play with Benni, and I really enjoy every moment I spend with him. I realize too that all too soon my cute little 3-year-old is going to be a fully-grown man, and that the short time I have to enjoy his childhood needs to be cherished.
I try to contribute to as many of the day to day chores, including the care of Benni, as I can. I have always been actively involved with looking after him, from changing his diapers to making his meals. I cook, I clean the house, I help my wife out as much as I can.
But I also try to do plenty of fun stuff with my son and my wife too. To me, the best way to really bond and keep relationships of all kinds strong is to work and play together as much as possible.
3. Encourage Independence
Of course, as well as spending quality time with your child, I think you have to also balance the fact that it’s impossible to make them the center
Believe me, I’m no saint! I find it really, REALLY hard sometimes to tear myself away from my laptop, phone or video game. I hear myself saying “in a minute” for the next half hour or more. I feel I shouldn’t do this, but it can be very difficult not to!
For more tips on this take a look at my blog: Raising Healthy, Self-Confident and Responsible Kids
4. Make Time
I love playing with Benni, and I love that he really enjoys playing with me. We have so much fun with the same toys I had as a kid, Duplo, toy cars, wooden railroad and most recently Lego.
I could spend hours building Lego worlds or creating crazy marble runs with him, but honestly, Benni has a pretty short attention span just like any other three-year-old. Before long he gets bored and frustratingly wants to destroy his freshly assembled creation, a lot more than he wants to continue building it.
On the other hand, it can also be frustrating when he wants my attention all the time, and I have to remind myself that I will bitterly regret it if I don’t play with him as much as I can now, while he still wants me to.
I also realize that the more time I spend with Benni doing fun, educational and engaging activities the stronger our bonds will become, and the more I am helping him towards his future education too. Putting down my own toys (computer, phone, video game) is, therefore, a very worthy sacrifice.
To help you make more time to do the fun stuff with your kids, take a look at my blog: How to Balance Work and Family Life
5. Be Interested
It’s important to me that when Benni is older, that he feels that I am interested in him and what he loves to do. I don’t want to be a pushy Dad and try to force him into liking activities that I enjoy, although I’d never dissuade him either if he did garner an interest in one.
I like to think I will give him the space to find his own favorite hobbies and pastimes and that I’ll make myself available to support him in them, encouraging him, without turning into a pushy parent.
I totally get that many people are restricted in how much time they can spend with their kids due to work. I completely believe that even if you can only spend half an hour of quality time with your kids after work each day, then that valuable half hour will have a profound effect on the quality of your relationship. I’m not saying that when you get home from work you shouldn’t get to relax, what I am suggesting is that you give a little time to your child first and then take time for you and your partner after your child’s gone to bed.
6. Be Patient
The older Benni gets the more I find myself saying things like “Benni don’t do x” and “hurry up Benni!”. The trouble is, the more I do this, the worse he gets, and as our frustrations rise, we both get grumpier and grumpier.
It’s tough sometimes to just be patient, chill, take a deep breath and try a different approach to the problem. It’s easy to forget he’s just three and doesn’t understand that if we don’t leave the house right on time, we’ll be late for the nursery.
I forget that kids of his age don’t have any concept of time. When I do manage to keep my calm, everything runs a whole lot more smoothly!
7. Behave How you Want your Child to Behave
Regrettably, I’ve recently been reminded of the saying that “kids are like sponges”, well yes, I can confirm, they most certainly are!
Recently I cut my finger while chopping vegetables and gave an automatic (Kiefer Sutherland) response. Now of course whenever Benni bangs his knee or gets cross about something, he too utters the dreaded word “dammit” much to my wife’s, and my own annoyance.
I know that it isn’t just words that children absorb either. They take on board all the behavior they see, good and bad. I know it can be difficult not to complain about your Mother in Law, but remember that she is their Grandma. In their eyes, if your behavior is OK for you, then it must also be OK for them too.
To conclude, the seven things I would ask myself, to answer the question “am I a good father”, would probably be:
- Do I set clear boundaries for my child to follow and do I stick to them?
- Do I get involved enough with my child’s day to day care and helping around the home?
- Do I encourage my child to become a confident and independent person?
- Do I make enough opportunities to spend quality time with my child?
- Am I interested in the activities my child enjoys and do I encourage and support them in these activities?
- Am I patient and understanding with my child?
- Do I behave in the way I wish my child to behave?
Of course, there is so much more than this to being a great parent, but if you can say yes to these seven questions, I think you must be doing OK. Of course, there will always be room for improvement, after all, none of us are perfect!
If you are interested in bringing your parenting to a whole new level and really connect with your kids, while learning to avoid all those nasty “power struggles” along the way and putting an end to all yelling, nagging and reminding, PLEASE make sure to read my review of Positive Parenting Solutions! It’s an amazing online course I took recently and it really improved our family life A WHOLE LOT!
==> Read my Full Review of “Positive Parenting Solutions”HERE <==
Let me know what you think! How do you evaluate your parenting? Do you even think about it? What is important to YOU as a mom or dad when you think about “good parenting”?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
I really enjoyed your website. I have a few kids and now two grandkids. Parenting has definitely changed. I really like your emphasis on playing with your kids, especially getting offline and outside. play is so important for childrens’ self esteem and sense of mastery, but it seems electronics have taken over. Don’t get me wrong there is a place for that too, but there must be balance.
I think a lot of people do not know how to discipline their kids effectively. I was raised with spanking as a means of discipline, but we did not do that, so having access to information and learning other ways to discipline kids is really important. I want my kids to be responsible, kind, and caring people, and that takes setting boundaries. Your observation about spoiled kids being sullen and angry is astute. It is a misconception that giving a kid everyting they want with no limits will make them happy. Limits and boundaries, learning to treat others and things with respect makes kids feel secure and teaches self respect.
I like that you have resouces for parents to learn good parenting skills, because being a parent is easy, but being a good parent is hard. The course is nice, but a bit pricey for some and there are alot of very good books on the market . My suggestion would be to review books too, which may be easier for some to afford.
Otherwise well done! Enjoyed the site!
Thanks for taking the time to check out my website and leave such an elaborate comment. I really enjoyed reading your take on the topic. Books are a great idea, and even have written an article about books for dads recently.
“Positive Parenting Solutions” is somewhat pricey, I agree. But it offers an incredible value in return. In my opinion, a “simple” parenting book cannot keep up, especially with the interactivity the course brings; and also how parents can watch the course material together as a team, which is something most people would not consider when reading a book. Hence, I’d always go for the course, if money allows to do so, and then use books as supplemental resources.
I wish you and your family all the best,
As a mom, I sometimes ask myself if i’m doing enough to ensure that I raise my child well. It’s not easy and I can tell you that a father’s role is important. Children do live what they learn so it’s our responsibility as parents to make sure that they are nurtured and guided in the right path, so they are respectful and responsible children. Time is important to children, sacrificing time to spend playing with them, reading, attending school event and generally interacting with them and not demanding them to do as they are told will have a positive impact on parent child relationship.
A good dad continuously evaluates the relationship with his child/children and tries to make improvements. The clues you’ve shared will definitely be useful to dads and moms. I have been thinking about my parenting skills, even as I read this article.
Thanks for sharing.
I would start out by saying that if you are asking the question of “Am I a Good Father?” then you are because you recognize that it is impossible to be perfect 100 percent of the time! You really hit the nail on the head with all of your seven insights.
One parenting tip that I might offer is to give your child some choice in his life by letting him pick his clothes for the day out of your selection of two acceptable outfits. “Do you want to wear the blue one or the red one?” You’re still in control and your child has a choice.
I enjoyed this post a lot, it reminds me of my own kids when they were younger. It makes me think about what I need to do as a grandpa. These topics are very important for any parent and should be thought about every day.
I did not see how you accomplish the encouraging independence part. Is there a way to encourage them without being mean, or ignoring the child? I use to encourage my kids to play outside or with a toy set for a little while until I could join them.
Over all I was interested in the topic and the post was easy to read. I will come back for more.
What a great article. Many fathers these days I feel worry too much about how good of a job they’re doing. Not that it’s not important but I feel like they should also focus on what they know they do good. I like how you gave a bunch of different steps into being a better father because many dads probably wouldn’t know where to start. Again great article.
I hope you and Benjamin are well.
It so true been father is a full responsibility. Also it is funny how life changes when you got a son. Also it becomes a top priority to become very good role model.
Like you said being involved and making time is crucial . Above all I believe been patient is the most important one. What do you think?
Hey, thanks for your kind comment. Sorry that I didn’t manage to get back to you earlier. Benni and I are doing peachy. I’m a dad of to now, by the way 🙂
Patience, I agree, is probably the top most important trait you will have to develop. Kids are amazing, and being a dad is the greatest gift I have ever received. But it can be exhausting every now and then. If you find the right mix of being patient, but also standing up for yourself when it’s necessary, if really important!
Great thought, thanks for sharing! And all the best to you and your family!
A very well written article, that all dads will identify with, especially #6 the patience aspect
Do you have children yourself?… In my own case I have a 21 year old son, whose mindseems forever to change : )
The only thing I would say that was missing about the post, was there were no sharing buttons, cos I would love to have shared that across social media
Hey Dave. Sorry for the late response! Yes, I do have kids. My son Benjamin is five years old and my second son, Fabian, is 1 year old. Being a dad is awesome and I love it! Thanks for the tip regarding “share buttons”. I’ll take a look at that. But remember: You can always share it manually 🙂 Thanks and all the best to you and your family, chris
#6 is the one most of us dads will identify with I think
Enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing