A wise man once said “anyone can be a father but it takes an exceptional human being to be a dad”. Such is the general consensus our society shares of fatherhood that biology by itself is not the only determinant to being a great father.
So what are some of the characteristics or traits that can secure that solid position? What keeps some winning in the dad department and scores them extra brownie points for being cool at the same time? With Father’s Day around the corner, I embarked on my own investigation to determine ten features that maketh a man an ideal patriarchal figure and came up with the following.
- We all know that is easier said than done specially dealing with this generation of children who think ‘back talk’ is a sport and have more rights than a UNICEF convention! A good father has to exercise control and reasonability not only in their actions but their words, as actively listening when their kids are having an issue means a lot, even if you cannot immediately solve the situation.
- Being present. Anyone can pay a bill, pay for GSAT lessons or buy them new clothes but do you actually turn up for father’s day race on sports day or help them with that tough geometry homework? In short, children need your ‘presence’ more than your ‘presents’.
- Open-mindedness. A great father is cognizant of the fact that norms and attitudes changes over time and so does not try to hold his children to impossible or unrealistic standards that may leave them feeling unable to measure up. He may recognise for example that children talk more freely about their sexuality and experiences or that they want to express themselves through fashion or their choice of music. Rather than refer to it all as ‘stupid’, he shows tolerance for teenage angst and growing pains and as long as it is not harmful, just ride it out.
- Challenging. In order to help them grow as human beings, fathers should also inspire their children to be their best selves by allowing them to not only make their own mistakes but grow and build from them. Shielding them from life will only make them unable to stand on their own as adults. Instead, challenge them to rise about adversity and to develop the coping skills necessary to meet life head on and to prosper.
- Leading by example. Do not tell them not to do something…and then allow them to see you do the very same thing. Not only is that hypocrisy but over time they will lose respect in your ability to be honest. When it comes to child-rearing, for the best results do not cut any corners.
- Protection. Everyone wants to feel safe and as children there is no great feeling than having father who is a protector. Whether it be carrying you home from school on their backs in a heavy downfall or shielding you from a vicious dog who tries to bite you, a father will do whatever he must, even if it means personal sacrifice
- Acceptance. This trait may come over time but a man with keen insight will realize that like it or not, his children are not miniature versions of himself. In other words he or she is not a ‘mini-me’ and will therefore act and think differently and that is ok.
- Discipline. No matter how society bends rules nowadays, a child without discipline is a child who is going to be in trouble as an adult. Discipline does not mean beating the crap outta them, it means setting boundaries and holding them accountable. Letting children run amuck is not only bad parenting but will come back to bite you in the ‘you know where’.
- Respect. And this starts with their own personal relationship. A real father will first show respect to the mother of his children, even if they are divorced or no longer a unit. He will love his children more than he dislikes her and therefore honour her as the woman who is helping him co-parent so that together they can raise strong, competent, independent and well rounded individuals. He will not throw shade, curse her out, call her names or bad mouth her in front of his children because he understand that when he rocks the very foundation that his children stands on, he de-stabilizes the children in the process.
- Unconditional Love. Whether they wrecked the car or told an unnecessary lie or came home with a report with a whole lot of ‘D’s and ‘E’s, love them no less. As much as we want them to be perfect little angels, the truth of it is, that is not possible so love them for all their flaws, faults and shortcomings and never give up on them.