Being a Good Father: Lessons from My Dad

Like most kids growing up, my thoughts about my father were a combination of admiration and frustration. I looked up to him and his successes as a businessman and father, but of course, had my moments of wishing he’d let me just have my way. It really wasn’t until the day I held my own baby as a new dad that I could truly appreciate my father as a father. Here are the top six things he taught me about fatherhood.

1. Support your wife. Learning how to be a good father means learning how to be a good teammate, with your wife as your team member -- never your opponent. I’ve always believed a baby feeds off his environment and learns early on how people interact with each other. Through his actions, my dad showed me to support your spouse and family emotionally, financially, and physically. They tackled being parents to three kids with the divide-and-conquer method, and no one ever felt overlooked.

2. Always have a camera on-hand. From a funny moment with my siblings to the times I scored a winning soccer goal, I’ve always appreciated being able to look back on all the pictures and memories my dad captured. It’s my history, from my birth to my own daughter’s birth. He loved photography, and I know now he was teaching me about being prepared to capture life’s little fatherhood moments for myself and for my family.

3. Be proud of the big and little things. My dad turned everything into a big accomplishment and celebrated every moment as if I had won the Nobel Prize. Getting good grades deserved an ice cream sundae; making the school safety

patrol deserved a movie; scoring a soccer goal deserved a fun family outing. Simply turning a year older was always reason enough for a big party.

4. Cherish each day. It sounds cliché, but when it comes to being a new dad, you can’t take any moment for granted. Aside from planning fun family activities, my dad found a way to make even the most mundane errands and chores a fun outing: Driving to the grocery store turned into a dance party and sing-along in the car, and shopping turned into a hide-and-seek game.

5. Provide for your family. Kids come with expenses, to say the least, but also come with emotional needs that need to be met every day. My dad did everything he could to provide for us financially, emotionally, and physically. If he worked overtime and didn’t see us, he would leave us sweet notes saying how much he loved and missed us.

6. Help them learn, let them grow. Teach your child life’s lessons, decision-making and problem-solving skills to grow their independence. Sometimes, as much as you may want to just do things for them to make it easy, it’s important to let your child learn by doing. Let them get frustrated when learning to crawl, so it pushes them to try harder. Instead of cleaning up my 1-year-old daughter’s toys myself, I have her help me, so she can learn.

Learning how to be a good father takes practice and patience -- and at the end of the day, I am happy to know I have my own dad to turn to throughout my fatherhood triumphs and missteps.