What Is A "Good Father"?
“All I knew when I split with my ex was I wanted to be a good dad to my kids in spite of the divorce. The problem was, I had no idea what a good dad was. I was raised by a single mom and my own dad was completely out of the picture. Best idea I had of good dads were what I saw on TV and in movies.”
You hear it time and time again, “I just want to be a good dad.” It’s a worthwhile goal. But, what does it mean exactly? What is a “Good Father”?
The massive amount of parenting advice out there is overwhelming and infuriatingly contradictory. Admittedly, me even writing this site is obviously adding to the pile. However, in keeping with my promise to you of keeping things practical, tactical and brief, I believe being a good dad comes down to one simple but challenging thing:
What your kids want more than anything is a father that is there.
They know you’re not perfect. There are plenty of things you’re going to screw up, and that’s okay. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s amazing the little things your kids will forgive when you demonstrate consistently that you’re committed to them just by being present.
Though making every attempt to be physically present as much as possible is important, there is another important way you need to “show up”:
Be with them when you’re with them.
Now that you’re sharing custody, you’re going to see your kids less. Or perhaps, you’ll actually see your kids more. I found when I split from my ex, my time with my daughter became much more focused. I did everything I could to get as much done with work and my social life on the days she wasn't with me so when I did have her, I could give her my attention. Particularly in the first year, they need your focus.
I certainly don’t advocate for single parenthood; splitting with my child’s mother was a heartbreaking process for all. But, I truly believe I showed up in a way as a single dad that I hadn’t before. I challenged myself to show up (and still do) and that has created a truly remarkable bond with my daughter. My experience allowed me to grow into a Good Father.
Put the phone away. Turn off the TV (or watch something worthwhile together). Put those work papers and laptop in a drawer.
Connect. Be present. Show up. Be a Good Father.