Just as every child is unique, so is every dad. It’s hard to pin down exactly the right combination of traits and attributes that make up a great dad. Our world and regional cultures are different. Gender roles vary from family to family and strength can be defined as emotional or physical. Many men today didn’t have a great role model for a dad and while others had exemplary examples of fatherhood. Taking all of this into account, here are a few attributes of a great dad.
Loving - A good father loves his children and, if possible, loves their mother too. Love is key to being not only a good dad, but a good man as well. If your children know that you love them despite their mistakes and tantrums, the more they will trust you. When you have a loving trust with you children, you have a foundation to build a wonderful relationship.
“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV
Slow to Anger - This one gets a lot of us. I’ve always thought of anger as a bucket and circumstances a water hose. A problem at work may spray a lot of water into your bucket but it’s your child spilling his cup that makes your bucket overflow. This causes an angry over reaction to a very small problem. It’s important to us as men to empty our bucket as often as we can. So when we are hit with a firehose our buckets will be ready and we can remain calm.
“My brothers and sisters take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19 NIV
Disciplined - As we talked about earlier, love is the foundation for a great relationship with your children. But this does not mean that you let your kids run all over you, their peers and other adults. It is vitally important that you discipline your children so they understand how to be a good child, citizen and one day a good spouse. Letting your children do as they please is not love - that is laziness. Love takes bravery and bravery takes discipline.
“A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.” Proverbs 22:24 MSG
Present - Spending quality time with your kids is important. In the haste of life, soccer practice and working late, time with your kids can be rare. As dads we sometimes see taking an extra shift or a second job as a way to provide a roof over your kids head. But that means your children don’t see you at the dinner table. It’s a hard balance. Don’t work your life away to provide for a family you’ve grown distant from.
I got a great piece of advice from a friend that I recall frequently. One day before my son was born he told me, “Don’t kill yourself with extra freelance work to buy your kid six pairs of shoes. He can only wear one pair at a time anyway.” My friend’s wisdom told me it’s important to provide what my son needs but not to work myself to death trying to overcompensate. What is necessary is that I am there to be a father to my son.
Protector - Protecting your family comes in many forms. It is our job as parents to keep our children safe, so you must be prepared. Be prepared for a fire. Make a plan of how to escape and make sure your family practices it. Keep your kids safe online. My goodness this one is tough. Make sure you understand the apps and social media accounts your kids have and make sure to know what they are doing online so that no one can harm them or take advantage of them. Know what you are going to do when someone physically threatens your family whether at home or in public. Have a procedure that you know to execute when things get bad. Protecting your family can drain you physically and emotionally. That is why you trust God as your ultimate protector.
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20
Faithful - If you love God then let your family know. Don’t hide your light under a bushel like the children’s song says. Don’t leave your kids wondering if you are going to heaven or not. Raise your children to know that you love God and take the time to explain to them why God is important to you. Yes, you may go to church every Sunday but don’t only talk about God one day a week. Let them know you need Him every day. One of the best ways to do this is to pray regularly with your children. Let them hear you talk to God so they can get a glimpse of what a relationship with God looks like. Teach your children in the ways of the Lord and so that when they are older, they can understand the immense love that God has for them.
“Point your kids in the right direction - when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 MSG
These are just a few attributes of a great dad. There are many others. Feel free to share with us what other characteristics you feel make up a great dad.