It doesn’t take that much to put me in a reflective mood, so Father’s Day in and of itself gets me musing. Questions like – what makes a good dad? how do kids cope without one? what about the dads who don’t have access to their kids? what about the single mums who have to be dad to their children as well as their mum? how am I doing as a dad?
But this year was bigger for me as 2 days before Australian Father’s Day was the 50th anniversary of my Dad’s death (yes I am that old!). My mother remarried after 2 years, so I had a step-dad but, as I kept reminding him in those early years, he was not my dad!
So what does make a good dad? Here are my top 4 things:
Availability. To be a good dad you have to be around and I realise this immediately becomes a stumbling block for some. What if you are divorced and access is a problem, what if works takes you away. For extended or regular periods of time. What if your children have flown the nest and flown a long way from it? Colleges made easier to overcome by technology – try Skype or Voxer or other such ways of keeping in touch. Children look to us as role models, sources of wisdom and guidance and these are only as available as we are.
Affection. All children need to observe and receive their dads love. Solid, genuine, appropriate masculine love. Adolescent girls need it even more so. They are more likely to seek inappropriate male affection to compensate if they don’t experience affection from their dad.
Acceptance. This is one of the basic human needs – but acceptance from our dad takes on a new level of significance. From a dads perspective it is so easy to give, yet many of us have difficulty in showing it. We need to leave our goals and aspirations behind as they begin to develop their own (especially if we are wanting them to live out our failed ambition!) Even if their lifestyle doesn’t match what we want or even approve of it is still better to accept them as a person and keep the relationship strong and alive.
Admiration. As our children get older and develop their own career, their own family, their own life then that is the time when we can admire their achievements, admire their life choices, admire their ambition, their character. (Remember they probably inherited many of those from us in the first place!!) Let them know we are proud of who they are and of what they have achieved and aim to achieve.
Being a dad is easier to write about than to become but that shouldn’t stop us trying.