Friday, December 27, 2013

100 Ways to be a Great Dad

I have always loved milestones. Each one seems like a little plateau in the long journey, allowing you to celebrate and reflect for a moment before looking up at the next peak. So it was only natural that I wanted to do something a little different as I saw blog post number 100 approaching. A few ideas came to mind but quickly faded for any number of reasons. I felt myself getting stuck in a moment. Finally, the most logical idea of all came to me.

100 Ways to Be a Good Dad

It made sense. After all, that is what this blog is all about... active, involved Dads. It was perfect. But could I write a list of 100? I have one child and she is only six months old. Do I honestly have a knowledge base deep enough to generate 100 keys? The only way to find out was to start the list and see how far I got. I began with some lessons I have already learned in these early months as Dad. I added suggestions and ideas I had saved from parenting books I read. Advice from fellow Dads began finding their way in. With 13 years of teaching under my belt, I not only had extensive education and training in child growth and development, but had also collected several examples of what great fathers did or did not do. I looked to my own Dad, to my extended family, and some of the amazing Dads I knew in my community and neighborhood. When it was all said and done, building a list of 100 was not so hard after all.

Do you need to do everything on this list? Nope. I don't think so. I think we all just do the best that we can. But I bet most of you do these things already. Some you probably do without really noticing. So here it is for your enjoyment... the list. Some are very practical, some are more theoretical, but they are all part of being a great Dad. I hope it proves useful to you in some small way, while also reminding you what a wonderful job you already do.

100 Ways to Be a Great Dad
  1. Tell your kids you love them. Every single day.
  2. Be a daily presence in the life of your child.
  3. Donate time, money, or items to charity. Let your kids see this and invite them to do the same.
  4. Don't yell at your kids. Whether you are disappointed, frustrated, hurt, or just upset... you can communicate that without yelling.
  5. Make sure you and your wife have the same rules and parenting strategies and you both follow them consistently.
  6. Remember how you felt when your child was first born? Tell them about it. Often.
  7. Explore new places together.
  8. Learn a new skill or hobby together.
  9. Do the dirty work. Diapers, mucus, vomit... whatever. Get the full parent experience.
  10. If you make a promise, keep it.
  11. Use active listening with your kids. Let them see that you listen with love.
  12. Always think before you act... you can never erase an action made in anger.
  13. Always think before you speak... you can never erase words said in anger.
  14. Eat healthy food. Cook healthy food. Teach healthy eating habits early.
  15. Give them junk food... on occasion. Model and teach moderation.
  16. Don't prepare the path for your child, prepare your child for the path.
  17. Provide chores and an allowance.
  18. Make sure you sit down to one meal with your kids each day. Whether it is dinner, breakfast, or lunch... make it happen. No screens or electronics allowed.
  19. Never tell a child it is time to grow up. Give them the right to be children as long as they wish.
  20. Never be shy with the praise. Praise your kids with fervor every time they do good.
  21. You will be wrong. You will make mistakes. Admit it to your kids.
  22. Try new things. See a musical, enjoy the ballet, try a new sporting event. It shows you are open to new ideas and exposes your kids to new interests.
  23. Take lots of photos. Tons of them.
  24. Set a bedtime routine that you follow each night. Be willing to include a little pajama play time in that routine.
  25. Let your emotions show. Don't hide them.
  26. Don't be the "helicopter Dad". Give your kids their own space.
  27. Don't be the "potpourri Dad", planning so many different activities they get no free time.
  28. Take care of yourself. A healthy body and healthy mind will always benefit your kids.
  29. Bring your kids to work with you once in a while. They will love it.
  30. Shut your phone off.
  31. Team up with the kids to pamper Mom for a day.
  32. Read to and with your kids routinely.
  33. Explore the outdoors with your kids. Guide them in discovering the gifts of nature.
  34. Allow your children to make their own choices with money... sometimes.
  35. Teach your children the value of a dollar.
  36. Read a book on parenting.
  37. Follow a blog on parenting.
  38. Play catch with your kids. It is time well spent.
  39. Make weekly trips to the library.
  40. Compete with your kids in fun games and sports. That way you can model good sportsmanship, win or lose.
  41. Laugh at yourself. It is an essential skill to model.
  42. Snuggle.
  43. Embrace the quiet time with your kids. Count clouds in a field or go out to stargaze on a dark summer night.
  44. Sing to your kids. Even if you are a horrid singer, they love your voice from birth.
  45. Dance with your kids. Dance like nobody is watching.
  46. Pick your child up at school and take them for a special treat now and then.
  47. Create holiday traditions and never fail to follow them.
  48. Hold your child's hand. Literally and figuratively.
  49. Make it a goal to visit every museum in your area.
  50. Say no every single time you need to. A loving parent always sets limits.
  51. Say yes every time your heart tells you to.
  52. Allow your children to make their own choices and take chances.
  53. Allow your children to fail, then help them get back up.
  54. Allow your children to succeed on their own, then celebrate with them.
  55. Always meet with the teacher at least twice during the school year. Even if your child is a straight A student, don't miss a meeting.
  56. Jog, hike, bike, whatever... be active with your kids.
  57. Don't hold a grudge against anyone.
  58. Be a good husband.
  59. Be unpredictable. Amuse your kids with fun and silly surprises.
  60. Be reliable and consistent. Let them know they can count on you for the important things.
  61. Find reasons to celebrate with your kids. Half birthdays, report cards, a lost tooth... anything.
  62. Let your kids be themselves. Don't choose a path or dream for them, let them follow their own.
  63. Open a savings account for your children. Add to it regularly.
  64. Surprise your kids by taking time off from work to spend time with them.
  65. Leave surprise love notes for your children to find.
  66. Your kids will have favorite TV shows. Watch them together and discuss them after.
  67. If you have more than one child, make sure you give each child some one-on-one time now and then. This solo time with Daddy will mean the world to them. One day per month is good.
  68. When you ask how their day was, do not accept one word answers (fine, okay, nothing, etc.). Don't give one word answers, either. Embrace the details in your lives.
  69. Cook a meal or make a treat with your kids as partners. Be a team in the kitchen.
  70. When you make mistakes, and you will, make it up to your children sooner rather than later.
  71. Never embarrass your child in front of other people.
  72. Take road trips and make the car time count.
  73. Treat other children the way you want yours to be treated.
  74. There is no such thing as too many hugs or too many kisses.
  75. Schedule family game night at least every two weeks. Board games are great.
  76. Got stress at work? Leave it at work. Never share it with your children.
  77. Hang your child's work in your home. Paintings, poems, book reports... show them how proud you are.
  78. Help with school projects. Never do it for them. Always a hand up, never a hand out.
  79. Remember your kids are always listening. Speak to everyone with respect.
  80. Stand up for your children without fail every time they need it.
  81. When others act inappropriately around your children, put a stop to it.
  82. Put no limits on your own imagination during play. Pretend like a champ.
  83. Be ready to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes.
  84. A hand up is always better than a hand out.
  85. Never be afraid to ask for help.
  86. Embrace diversity and promote equality in ways your children can see and understand.
  87. Get a video camera and start a library of clips featuring your kids.
  88. Be the king of the sleepover. Make it a great night for your child and his friends.
  89. Be your child's best media filter. Teach them how valuable and useful the media is while shielding them from the messages they're not ready for.
  90. Do unto your children as you would want others to do unto yourself.
  91. If your kids are into video games (like I was), use it as a tool to get close to them. Have limits and play the games together.
  92. Teach your children about your family history... or discover it together.
  93. Schedule movie nights together at home.
  94. Don't expect perfection from your children. Reach for their potential but allow room for error.
  95. Get advice from your children. Be receptive to their feedback and ideas.
  96. Have a piggy bank for your child. Drop your loose change it.
  97. Hold family meetings and allow open discussion.
  98. Have a homework routine for your child. Be sure you (or your wife) are available to help during that routine.
  99. Be proud of the Dad you are, as if you are #1.
  100. Be the person you want your kids to be. They are always watching you and strive to be like you. 
** 101. If you forget everything else, stick with #1 and #2... and the rest should fall into place on its own.

What Tip or Advice Would You 
Add to the List?


  1. You covered it very well! I never thought to write all that down, wow, being a parent of either gender is a full list! But, I would say two things could make it perfect...1. Teach them to serve others (age appropriate) by doing it with you 2) the very end.

    1. Thanks! Absolutely great ideas there, and important ones to pass on...