Being a father is one of the most important roles a man will have in his lifetime. Good fathers are crucial to a healthy and well functioning society. They teach boys how to become men, stand up for what is right in their communities, and protect the vulnerable. Good fathers teach what is right versus wrong, fix what is broken, and instill values in their children that lead to whole and healthy lives. Without good fathers, society begins to break down and decay.
But what characteristics embody a good father? What are some of the most important things a good father can be and do for his family?
Be present. Life is busy. American life is very busy. Everything and everyone is trying to grab your attention. All the time. Work responsibilities, house repairs, sporting events, vacations, deadlines, house chores, and so much more. Everyday is a constant battle of who or what will win your attention. Above all else, choose your family. Choose your children. Give them your attention. A father who is present with his children is an attachment figure who is consistent with his children. They will know and remember that their father was involved in their life and was there for them when they needed him. Being present with your children through the ups and the downs of their lives will be the greatest gift you can give them. When they become young men and women, you will be glad you gave them your presence.
Be strong. The world needs strong fathers. Fathers who will stand up for their children. Fathers who will protect their children. Be strong for them during the trials and tribulations of life. Let them know you are with them and for them through the good, bad, and the ugly. Be strong by being committed to their welfare and future. Sometimes, being strong for your children means setting rules and guidelines that are for their good, even when they don’t like it or agree. Being strong for your children is doing what is best for them even when it feels difficult in the moment to do so. They may not thank you in the moment, but years down the road, they will be thankful that they had a father who was strong when it was really tough to be.
Be loving. Everything about being a good father rests on being loving. A loving father is one who puts his children’s needs first, is genuine and kind with his words, and is patient. Being loving is not hiding emotion from your children but displaying it, as it will give them examples of vulnerability and authenticity. Forgiving and resolving conflict with others will teach them how to work through difficult conversations and interactions with other people. Show love to your children by being affectionate with them. A hug, pat on the back, or an encouraging word when they need it. Your words and actions carry tremendous weight, so be mindful of what you say and how you act around them.
Good fathers are so important and much needed in our culture. Be present with your children. Be strong for them. Be loving. They will take notice and they will be affected by your impact. Being an involved dad can be your greatest joy and your children’s greatest benefit.
By Austin Shugart, Ph.D., LPC