Being a great dad is a multifaceted role that involves more than just providing for your children.
It’s about building strong emotional connections, providing support, being actively involved in your child’s life, and imparting valuable life lessons.
In this article, I explore the critical aspects of how to be a great dad, ensuring a positive and lasting impact on your children’s lives.
Building a Strong Emotional Connection
Investing time (and not only money) in your child’s life is essential to be a great dad. Spend quality time with them, engaging in activities they enjoy. Get lost in building Lego, enjoy dressing up, be stupid around them and have fun.
Research has shown that children who spend time with their dads have better cognitive and emotional development. They often perform well in school and exhibit improved problem-solving skills (Rollè et al., 2019).
As a dad, we need to have active listening and open communication. We need to take the time and energy to actually listen to what our children are telling us, to let them have time and space to understand what is happening around them and inside them. This is so important as it creates a space safe to express themselves.
How do you, as a dad, express your love and affection? This area of being a dad has changed; no more serious dad. Dad needs to show love and affection in both physical and verbal ways.
I try to be the best role model I can be; of course, I make mistakes, and I can shout or lose my temper. But I am always trying to improve, which is a value I demonstrate daily.
Providing Emotional Support
One of the biggest mistakes is that we push children to do things we believe will benefit them. We have to encourage passion, as we all know that people with passion achieve great things. Also, that passion can be beneficial during tough times.
And on the note of tough times, we need to be there when things go wrong. Creating a secure environment and open communication allows children to make mistakes and play without fear.
Krauss et al. (2020) discuss the importance for children to spend quality time with their dads, and those that do tend to have higher self-esteem and a more positive self-image. This was especially important for children aged 10-16 years old.
Our job is not to create stress; let’s be fair; life creates enough stress and trauma. Why do parents feel the need to do this? However, it is our responsibility to teach resilience and coping skills. Stress management is a massive area that companies are investing in to teach their people these skills. Why not teach the children from a young age?
Being Involved in Your Child’s Life
This is seriously important. But there are some simple ways to do this.
In addition, research has highlighted that dads are more likely to engage in different types of play, such as rough-and-tumble play, which can foster problem-solving skills and physical coordination in children (Nery et al., 2023). This is hugely important in the development of the child.
Having A Good Work/Life Integration
The biggest challenge is how to create enough time for all of the above. There is no such thing as balance; as we all know, life is unstable. However, we, as dads, are very poor at prioritizing and setting boundaries. Learning to say no can be one of the most important skills a business dad can learn.
You must protect it once you have sat down and created time with your family. This is why having a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve is vital for being a great dad.
Physical and Mental Fitness
As I have previously written, being a role model is vital to being a great dad, and one of the best ways we can do this is demonstrating overall health. Simple things such as:
Being a good husband/partner
I want to lead by example; exercising is a massive part of life, and having worked in human performance for 20 years, I can see the benefits in all areas of well-being. Taking time in the week to train is not taking away from my children; it gives me energy and builds resilience. I want to be able to play with my grandchildren (if that happens) and support my children as they grow into young adults and beyond.
The last point on this is the fact that there is substantial mental health challenges in men. The stats are clear. There are Three times as many men as women die by suicide, and Men aged 40 to 49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK. Being a dad gives us purpose and a sense of need, and our children need us. So as much as sometimes children can be hard work, there is a massive benefit for us. Remember, when your children tell you they love you, they do; it’s a pure expression of their emotion to you.
Supporting the Other Parent
As parents, we must work together to provide a united front in parenting decisions. There are always going to be disagreements about the way things are done. But the two significant areas of this are 1. the discussion happens away from the children, and 2. the child is in the centre of the decision-making process.
A strong parenting unit shows your child the importance of treating others with respect, kindness, and empathy through your actions. And that effective communication and problem-solving skills are essential tools for teaching healthy relationships.
Being a great dad is a lifelong journey filled with challenges, rewards, and immeasurable love. Here are some of my thoughts and ideas for helping foster a child who is happy, confident, and has the best opportunity to succeed. Our role as a dad shapes the future of our children and society as a whole. I do not get it right every day, but I am embracing the opportunity and cherishing the moments I have with my two children. Remember, some people never get this opportunity.
Check out the business dads pathway to see if it can help. It will!
Progress over perfection
Krauss, S., Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2020). Family environment and self-esteem development: A longitudinal study from age 10 to 16. Journal of personality and social psychology, 119(2), 457–478. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000263
Rollè, L., Gullotta, G., Trombetta, T., Curti, L., Gerino, E., Brustia, P., & Caldarera, A. M. (2019). Father Involvement and Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2405. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02405
Nery, M., Sequeira, I., Neto, C., & Rosado, A. (2023). Movement, Play, and Games-An Essay about Youth Sports and Its Benefits for Human Development. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 11(4), 493. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11040493