*** Thanks for waiting for me to begin writing again.  A New Orleans trip to the Dad’s Summit was incredible in early February as well as we endured some major life stresses in the last month — house move/office move, major home renos, and a few in utero baby scares (more on that in the future) — but I am back and I look forward to connecting with you and to your input into the Dad Vibe!  Cheers, Jeff

Are You Better than your Dad?

Of course you are, right?  You are more evolved that your dad.  He was more hands-off, harder to reach, more authoritarian than nurturer.  You are more connected and involved with your kids, but are you really a better dad? 

How do we define “Better Dad”?  If a better dad equals a more involved dad, then we had better define “involved” and just who do we measure you against?

If you measure your own parenting skills versus your father, then it’s a slam dunk.  You win.  The fact that you know the name of your kid’s school may make you more involved than your dad.  Your dad didn’t know all the characters from your favourite movie or the kind of pizza toppings you like.  So you are awesome! You know all that stuff and lots more fun facts about your kids.  Your dad likely did the best he could, the best he knew how, but you are better.

But wait a sec Tarzan, stop beating that chest.  All dads today are more involved than dads from 40 years ago.  The criteria to win the “Father of Year” mug isn’t just provider and protector anymore.  That is the absolute bare minimum now. 

So if your own dad isn’t the benchmark, do you judge yourself against other awesome dads?  What do they do vs. what you do?  How valid and objective is that? 

Perhaps you could ask your spouse?  Would she provide an unbiased account of your true parenting skills?  Maybe she could… or maybe your own relationship dynamic with her might taint or blur those lines?

Maybe the best people to report on your father skills are your own kids.   But then again, they don’t know any different… you are what you are. 

No, I think the only person that can really measure you is YOU.   Honest authentic you.  

So putting aside the stressful constraints of time and career, are you a great, involved father? 

Before going to the Dad 2.0 Summit last month in New Orleans, I would not have had an accurate tool for you to use to measure yourself.  But now I do and I hope you use it for self reflection and assessment.  How do you rank? 

9 Dimensions of Father Involvement

  1. Discipline and teaching responsibility setting and enforcing family rules, boundaries, and expectations.  
  2. School encouragement – encouraging success through hard work, attendance, punctuality, and homework.
  3. Giving support to the mother – providing support, respect, and cooperating with your parenting partner.
  4. Providing resources for children – providing basic needs (food, shelter, etc) and accepting financial responsibilities for raising your children. 
  5. Reading and homework support – encouraging good study habits, reading to younger children, and helping older children with homework.
  6. Time and talking together – spending quality time listening and talking with (not at) your children.  Being truly present. 
  7. Encouragement and affection– physical affection (hugs, cuddles) and encouraging good choices.  
  8. Develop your kid’s talents – recognizing the strengths of your child.  Encouraging development of talents and abilities for the future.
  9. Attentiveness – being involved in daily routines of life and also attending events your children are involved in.

How many dimensions out of 9 do you dominate?  Please add your results to the comments below… is there anything missing from the list?

This list gave me some things to work on and some new areas to focus my energy.  If participation equals location plus motivation, then I need to make more time in my busy schedule to be truly present in their lives. 

Sometimes dads just need to know the expectations of what involved looks like.  Cultural differences may impact but largely, all kids need the same things and at the root, all kids need affirmation from their fathers (or the person filling that role {uncle, step dad}). 

We need to continue building a culture of great dads.  This “Involved Dads” movement will continue to grow and change the landscape for our children and our children’s children.

Since you read this all the way through to the end, I will bet my last dollar that you are a better dad than your own dad!  Continue being that hero to your kids!  You Rock!

Until next time…


Questions, comments, future column ideas? 

http://tinyurl.com/Facebook-Dad-Vibe or jeff@thedadvibe.com

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