10 Tips for How to Be a Great Dad Daily

10 Tips for How to Be a Great Dad Daily
Being a dad is all about finding your own path to what makes you and your kids happy, and our
list can help you find your way.
Despite more than 30 years of research on fathers, there's no real consensus on what it
takes to be a good one. Ask any number of scholars and academics in the field and they'll
give you a list of all-too-often impossible "must-haves" in order to be a good dad. At The
Daily Dad, we're pushing back against all that. Our mission is to encourage, promote and
celebrate inspiring, engaged and involved dads everywhere. Our claim is that any man, of
any marital status, employment status, custody status and whatever-other status can be a
good father by just starting where they are.
We've come up with a list of 10 things that can aid in the process to becoming a more
involved, loving and all-around hero dad that kids deserve. But again, there are no rules.
You don't have to do them all to be a good dad. There will be some that you identify with
more than others, and that's great. Being a dad is all about finding your own path to what
makes you and your children the happiest. So read through the list, pick a few you want to
implement, and have fun!
1. Be Your Own Kind of Dad
Being a dad means something different to everyone, even your kids. Sure, you should find
out what they love about you and what they want from you, but what do you love about being
a dad? What's your favorite part? Is it taking the kids out for milkshakes? Is it teaching them
to build stuff? Is it taking pictures of cool activities with the kids and then blogging about it?
And what kind of dad are you? The protector with a huge soft side for kid kisses? The hipster
dad producing dubstep beats with your kid? The gadget geek taking your kid geocaching on
the weekend? All the research shows that your own identity as a father—what being a dad
means to you—is the major predictor of how involved you are with your kids. So own it—your
own way. And whatever it is that makes you love being a dad, do that all the time with your
kids. It's extremely likely they will inherit their own father identity from you: boys will become
it; girls will look for it. Long story short, if you "aren't really into" being a dad, you're doing it
wrong. Change it up! Be your own kind of dad.
2. Use Social Media the Right Way
Almost everyone uses some form of social media. Not only should parents be keenly aware
of their kids' social media use for obvious safety reasons, but a parent can use social media
to celebrate their kids, to give them a public compliment, to post a #tbt photo, or anything
else along those lines. It's like in the old days when dads would open up their wallet and
show their coworkers and friends photos of their kids. Social media is the modern day
wallet, and dads are starting to light it up. We've seen this in our #iDAD submissions:
hundreds of dads taking photos of themselves with their kiddos to show off how great they
think their kids are. When parents do this, their kid is left feeling like their parents care about
them enough to let the whole world know.
3. Be Involved
Talk with your kids! This is overlooked by a lot of dads. Do you know your kids' friends' full
names or where they live? Do you know what classes they're taking and their teachers'
names? What are their favorite shows or video games? Even more importantly, when was
the last time they felt down, rejected or excluded? Have they ever felt like there was no one
they could talk to? If you establish early on that you're always the person they can go to for
help or just as a confidant, that pattern will continue. (Hint: research shows that this is
especially important for your daughters, but you should show your sons that real men talk,
Ask tons of questions. If you don't know what to ask, we suggest using our top 100 things you
should know about your kid, which is a list of 100 conversation starters. And when you blow
through that 100, you can go back and ask them again because interests change with kids
from week to week.
4. Remember Important Dates and Do Something Special
Okay, remembering what makes a certain date important is the first step, but it's only
the first step; don't stop there! What takes it to the next level is to be the dad holding a
flower for his daughter at her dance recital, a special gift just from dad on their birthday or a
personal card for graduation. Don't just let your partner do all the work and think signing
your name on a card is enough. Do something special on a special day.
5. Take Your Kids Places
We're not recommending you book a trip around the world, but we're advocating taking your
kids with you when you have to run to the grocery store, the hardware store, to visit
someone in the hospital, etc. Kids learn when they're in new environments, so expose them
to new places and talk with them about what you're doing. Kids love learning from their
dads, so give them lessons throughout the day. A study of family leisure time showed that
from the kids' perspective, the best time with dad was spent doing normal things, like talking
about things that mattered to them, playing video games together, eating dinner, listening to
music, horseplaying and developing hobbies. No need for epic family vacations (because
really, watching dad flip into cussing rages trying to set up a tent isn't exactly quality time).
6. Be Honest with Your Kids
Kids won't be honest with you if you're not honest with them. When your kids ask you a
question, answer it honestly—and with consideration and sensitivity for their ages. When
they ask you why you're doing something, tell them. ("I'm trying to get that toy you shoved
down the toilet out so daddy can use the potty!")
7. Take Time to Do Nothing with Your Kids
Okay, we know Tip 5 is to do stuff with your kids, but we're also advocating being
completely engaged with your kids when you're doing nothing. It's for the times when you're
not going to go out and do anything huge, but you can still maximize your time with your
kids. If you're watching a movie, really be engaged with your kids when you watch the
movie. Talk with them about why a part was sad or why they found a part funny. Whatever
time you do have with your kid, make it about them. Put away your phone, tablet, remote
and computer screen, and make some eye contact, for heaven's sake. Most surveys of
father involvement include some question about spending time doing what your kid wants to
do. So do that. Let them paint your nails or style your hair. Play dolls, climb trees, paint, do
whatever it is they love, whether you hate it or not.
8. Cook with Your Kids
Unfortunately, life and all the accompanying responsibilities prevent us from having as
much free time as we want to spend with the kids. To combat this unfortunate reality, dads
ought to figure out what responsibilities they can do with their kids. Cooking is an
opportunity for such companionship. Have you seen "Master Chef Jr."? You may be
grooming the next Gordon Ramsey! But remember to give your children tasks that are age
appropriate. No, your 3-year-old can't julienne vegetables and your 6-year-old is probably
not capable of manning the grill. With that said, your kids really are able to participate in the
kitchen with you in more ways than you might think.
9. Appropriately Use Punishment and Rewards
This is one is huge—the guideline of all guidelines, the essence of all discipline and
parenthood...have we hyped it enough for you?
Here it is:
If you want your child to stop doing something, punish them.
If you want your child to start doing something, reward them.
Really, that's it. That's the key element that so many fathers miss. We think we're supposed
to be the "enforcer" or the "judge/jury/executioner," and most kids think "dads mean
business." But if all you do is punish your children, they'll only know what not to do and
never learn what they can do.
10. Go on an Adventure this Summer
We created a treasure map for summer activities with your kids so you can print it out, put it
on the fridge and embark on the summer treasure hunt of your lives. Spend this summer
making memories with your kids doing things that are absolutely free of charge. Keep the
map and any tokens from your adventure in a box for your kids' keepsakes. Imagine how
fun it will be for them to look back at the effort you put into planning a great summer with