Every Father’s Day, a certain saying goes around, either on social media posts, or on greeting cards – “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”
Isn’t that so true? It captures the essence of fatherhood, that distinction between mere biological and deep emotional bond.
In fact, I know adoptive fathers who share no DNA at all with their child, but you’d never know it from the devotion they show!
As an educator for more than a decade, I’ve seen how fathers come in all shapes and sizes. But the dedicated ones who stand out from the rest?
They have these certain behaviors in common:
1) He’s present and engaged
In other words, he shows up.
And his version of “showing up” is different from those who are physically there but are emotionally and mentally miles away.
No, he’s truly involved. He’s the one you see whooping and cheering his kids on during soccer practice.
He’s the type who twists himself into a pretzel to be able to sit at his little girl’s tea table and hold a dainty cup out for some tea.
This is a dedicated father’s most precious gift: attention.
That’s also why when his kids grow up, the bond remains strong.
2) He chooses quality and quantity when it comes to time
That ability to be attentive is precisely why every interaction between a child and their dedicated father is meaningful.
But it’s not just that. Dedicated fathers don’t have that “quality vs quantity” mindset when it comes to time spent with their kids.
They do both – they spend lots of time with their family, and they try to make it all count as much as possible.
For so long, we’ve believed that quality time matters more than quantity when it comes to parenting. And that’s true to a certain extent.
After all, the harsh reality is that as much as we parents would love more time with our kids, our jobs and pressures get in the way of that.
But new research shows that both quality and quantity matter when it comes to parenting. In a nutshell, the findings were that “the more time parents spent with children, the higher their children’s well-being will be.”
It’s a pretty tall order to nail both quality and quantity time, isn’t it? But then again, fathers who can do that aren’t called “dedicated” for nothing.
That’s also why they can do this next thing…
3) They provide consistent discipline and guidance
Kids need boundaries, and a dedicated father knows that discipline is necessary and is, in fact, proof of their love.
He understands the brief – to raise healthy, happy children who will go on to be well-adjusted adults.
And to do that, he needs to be consistent. Even if sometimes he’d rather give in and slip his child that lollipop before dinner.
The beautiful result of all that consistent guidance is that his child knows what to expect and feels secure in the predictability of their life.
4) He’s a good role model
Of course, you can’t instill proper discipline and guidance if you aren’t such a great example yourself.
I remember when my boys first got a PlayStation. Naturally, they wanted to play for hours on end, my husband right along with them.
But we had to set some rules – they could only play once they were finished with homework and their chores. And they could only play for an hour on weekdays, two hours on weekends.
Did this sit well with my husband? Yes and no.
Yes, because he knew it was the right thing to do. But also no, because he wanted to play all night himself!
The good thing is, he reeled his protests in and fell in line. Because, being the dedicated father that he is, he knew how important it was to be a good role model for the boys.
5) He shares responsibilities
Gone are the days when the men would go to work and leave all the housework and parenting to the women.
These days, we’re seeing more and more men breaking out of this outdated gender role. They’re now willing to do the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting as well.
So, a dedicated father would be right there changing diapers. Whipping up dinner. Attending PTA meetings.
You won’t hear him telling his partner, “Uh, that’s your job.”
Because he sees parenting as his job, too. Way more important than being the “head of the family.”
Which means, he isn’t doing these tasks out of obligation; he’s truly invested emotionally in his kids’ well-being.
6) Values are more important to him than grades
Another way a dedicated father shows that emotional investment is through his priorities, specifically when it comes to what he wants his kids to learn.
Of course, he wants his children to do well in school. But beyond that, what’s more important for him is that they grow up to be kind and decent human beings who will contribute to the larger world.
That’s why he’ll take the time to read bedtime stories, help with homework, and model kind and respectful behavior and a strong work ethic.
All of that goes towards his desire to instill a love for learning, a healthy consideration for other people, and a sense of independence.
Which leads me to my next point…
7) He encourages independence
When I was still teaching, I had a student who was struggling in terms of independence. He was very hesitant to try new things, and he would stare at me blankly when asked to pick out an activity on his own.
Then I met his father. And it all suddenly became clear. His dad was the overbearing type, the kind who’d step in to tie his shoes, pick his snacks, and even answer questions directed at his son.
Don’t get me wrong, this dad had the best intentions, just like any other parent. And he was probably doing the best he could in his own way.
But he didn’t realize that he was hampering his child’s independence.
In contrast, a dedicated father understands that one can only truly learn if they’re given the freedom to explore and make mistakes.
So, he’d allow his child the leeway to make minor decisions, such as what to wear and which toy to play with. He might even let his kid try and make their own sandwich.
Essentially, a dedicated dad isn’t afraid to let go to create an environment where his kids can feel empowered and ready for real-world challenges.
8) He shows affection
You know what else a dedicated father isn’t afraid of? Showering his kids with hugs and kisses!
Or, if they aren’t big on physical demonstrations of love, they’ll show it through praise and kind words.
This type of father understands what a number of recent studies have been saying – that there’s a strong relationship between parental affection and children’s happiness and success.
9) He takes good care of himself
Now, he can’t keep being the dedicated father he is without understanding this crucial fact – self-care is necessary.
So, just as he spends quality time with his kids and provides excellent care, he also does the same with himself. He stays fit, eats nutritious food, manages stress, and stays on top of his own well-being.
Because he takes this to heart: how can he be there for his kids if he’s sick or, worse, gone?
And also this: how can his kids learn to live a healthy lifestyle if he doesn’t set a good example?
Like I mentioned earlier, role modeling is always top of mind for a dedicated father!
10) He’s always learning and adapting
Show me a father who knows it all and can’t take advice, and I’ll tell you he’s likely not a dedicated one.
Because the ones who are know that they don’t know everything. Even if they’re already doing a fantastic job, they’re always conscious of doing better, of being the best dad they can be.
They read parenting books, seek advice from other parents, and even take cues from their own kids.
What I’d like to point out is that they have the flexibility and the humility to accept that “how they were raised” may no longer apply today. Research on child development is forever evolving, so our ideas on raising children should, too.
And the wonderful thing about that is that once again, they are setting a great example for their kids. Having a growth mindset themselves is an effective way to instill a love for learning in their children.
In a world full of distractions and pressures, being a family man and a dedicated father is no easy task.
It requires a lot of mindfulness and intentionality. A lot of self-discipline. A lot of love and commitment to your child’s well-being.
So, if you’ve got a dedicated father in your life – whether you were raised by one or are raising your kids alongside one – take the time to appreciate them. They need to know they’re kicking ass at parenting!