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 that? “Better Dad”? If a ‘better dad’ equals “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 own 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 the stuff and lots more fun facts about your kids.

But wait a sec Tarzan, stop beating that chest. All dads today are more involved than dads 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 do you do? How valid is that?

Perhaps you could ask your spouse? Would she provide an unbiased account of your true parenting skills? Maybe… or might your own relationship dynamic 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, life, and career, are you a good, involved father?

Before going to the Dad 2.0 Summit last month in New Orleans, I would not have had a great tool to measure you. But now I do and I hope you never forget it. How do you rank?


9 Dimensions of Father Involvement

  1. Discipline and teaching responsibility – setting and enforcing rules, boundaries, and expectations.
  2. School encouragement – encouraging success through hard work and homework.
  3. Giving support to the mother – providing support, respect, and cooperating with 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 kids' 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 skills. 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 their 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?

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About the Author

Jeff Hay is a Kelowna-based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of four.

Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States. 

When he is not playing his favourite role of 'DAD', Jeff speaks throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator, working on his website – www.thedadvibe.com, and writing his parenting book for dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Jeff dedicates his life to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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