You’ve heard it said that anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. And it’s true. Any male with working anatomical parts can be a father. But there’s something extra special about a dad. Something you just can’t put a finger on.
You’ve probably seen examples of this in your own life. You’ve heard friends talk about their "old man" or talk about their dad in ways that were less than kind. But when you met them they might have seemed like pretty good dads to you. They provided comfortably for their family, they seemed to be pretty easy to talk to. So why didn’t your friends like them? And more importantly, how do you make sure that you’re more than just a father to your own kids? How do you move from the "Father" category to the beloved "Dad" category? Below are four tips to help you do just that.
Tips on being a dad (not a father)
1. Move beyond provider and protector
Your role as a dad is to be more than just a provider and protector. That’s old school. That's what fathers do. Dads are actively involved in their children’s day to day life — helping with homework, talking about friends, etc. Dads know what happened at school yesterday and ask their kids if it got better today.
2. Play with your kids
Dads don’t just see their kids playing while sitting back reading the newspaper. Dads get down on the ground, roll around, chase, tickle and play with their kids. And if you think dads shouldn’t be playing with their kids there’s a lot of research on how rough housing with your kids helps their development.
3. Cry with your kids
Dads don’t always have to be tough or the reasonable ones in the family. In fact, there’s a lot children can learn from seeing their dad (who’s supposed to be tough and reasonable) be emotional. It teaches them how to cope with emotions, reason through them and make good decisions based on both reason and emotion.
4. Be a good husband
Being a good dad means you are a good husband, too. You show your children what a good husband is and does so that they know what to look for and how to be when they grow up. Children need good examples of good wives and husbands. If you’re not being a good husband you’re not being a good dad.
5. Know your children
Your child grows and changes a little every day. So when he's 12, he's nothing like he was when he was 10. He has different likes, interests, friends, etc. A dad sees his kids change every day because he's in tune with them — he knows them. So be a good dad and know your children.
Being a dad is a lot more fun than being a father. It means you play a lot more, talk a lot more and are involved a lot more. It’s also a lot more work. It means you worry a lot more, cry a lot more and have to know a lot more. But being a dad is so much more rewarding! For you and your kids.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.