Being a Good Father

E-mail today from a correspondent who suggests that on the basis of what I wrote yesterday, I consider myself better than the “so-called deadbeat” dads that I imagine others seeing me as because I’m out alone with my kid in the middle of the afternoon — i.e., unemployed and/or seeing their children through court-ordered visitation. So, just make to make sure we’re all absolutely clear on this one, and that there are no mixed signals whatsoever:

Duh. You’re damn right that I think I’m a better dad than that.

I mean, really. This one’s a no-brainer. On one hand, you have a guy who works hard and makes a good living for his family and stayed at home to care for his child while his wife worked outside of the home and/or went to college (that’d be me). On the other hand, you have a dad who can’t or won’t hold a job and desultorily sees his kids when the court makes him (the theoretical deadbeat of the previous column). Okay, now pretend you’re a kid. Pick one. Even implying these scenarios is in some way equivalent seems to require one to drink deeply from a very special brand of stupidity.

I’m certainly not saying being unemployed automatically drops you into the “bad dad” camp. Unemployment is often a temporary situation, hopefully correctable, although if you make a habit out of being unemployed because you just can’t live by the man’s rules, that’s never any good. Likewise, having to live with visitation when one is divorced is no fun, but if you do it and don’t make it seem like a chore, good on you. Making it a grim, joyless experience does definitely make you a bad dad, however. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. You simply suck.

(And of course we all know of dads who don’t bother to hold up their end of visitation, or who don’t think to drop a child support check in the mail like they’re supposed to. These gentlemen need to meet the service end of my shovel.)

Moreover, I am absolutely judgmental when it comes to parenting, and particularly when it comes to being a dad. Being a parent is hard work, and it often means making hard choices. If you can’t or won’t make those choices, you get a markdown in my book. It’s pretty simple. You can be a great parent and raise a rotten kid, and vice-versa; it’s important to remember that kids are people too, and some of them will confound your expectations no matter what you do. Be that as it may, every parent should be expected to lay the table, as it were, for their child, to do what they can to provide their children the tools they need for life. If you can’t or won’t do that, you’ve got a problem as a parent.

I feel pretty good about myself as a father. I’m not perfect, which is a statement that should be understood as a given for any dad. Anyway, perfect dads are creepy. But I lay the table. My work tends to my family’s financial needs. My wife and I are mindful of our relationship, not simply for ourselves, but because we know enough to know that a solid marriage is the cornerstone of a solid family. I cherish my daughter for the remarkable human being she is at the moment, and for everything she can become. I love helping her learn about the world and her place in it; I love being a part of her play. Even when she utterly drives me up the friggin’ wall – which is often, she is three — I simply can’t imagine not having her in my life every day; I can’t imagine not being willing to break my own back to do for her. Here’s the thing, however: I’m not doing anything special. It’s what’s in the job description. It’s what dads are supposed to do.

I am a very good father (so far). I am better than many fathers I have known, although I am pleased to say that I look around me every day and see other fathers who are doing equally well in their responsibilities as a parent. I work hard every day to continue to be a good father. I’ll work hard at it every day until they shove me into the ground.

I don’t deserve a medal for being a good father; it’s what I’m supposed to be. But if you think I don’t recognize that I do a good job at it, and a better job than many others are doing, you’re nuts. If you don’t think I’m proud of that fact, you’re high. If you think I shouldn’t think I’m better than a dad who won’t do as I do for my family and my child, well, here’s my ass. Feel free to bite it.

9 thoughts on “Being a Good Father

  1. You rock. The whole damn blog – Hello! Guys – Girls – Out there – X-ACTLY!!!!!!!

    Thank you!

  2. I like you am not a perfect father, I try real hard to be a good provider. The family I have now was totally unexpected-appeared after a failed romance, being with certain values I wanted nothing to do with an abortion. I offered to raise the child by myself if necessary, or we could really work at it and try to make a proper family out of our gift. We chose to go ahead and try to make it work-from that day on I never have been able to live up to my wifes expectations of being a father, she never had one, her father was a biological donor who disowns her to this day. It is very hard beig in competition with the ideal father picture ie my three sons or leave it to beaver or some other sixties show…any suggestions? still at our boy is eight years old, and is king in my world.

    Sincerely
    Jeff Webb

  3. As I read this I began to think. I think a good father but not perfect. Im currently getting divorced my daughter is in Ca and Im in Ct. This is very difficult for me and not only that my job takes me away often. I love my daughter very much I and at every visit we spend quality time together and take my cell phone turn it vibrate and check twice a day. I provide for her like every father should do for there child which is a no brainer and sometimes I give much more just to make sure she has what she needs. The adjustment is difficult but my little lady is a very bright young lady and she does not hold it against me that my job takes me away so frequently. I’m in the military so I have missed alot of her life already. But I make sure the time I get is well spent. I can’t wait to retire so I can begin the second part of my life and spend more time with her but she will be a teen so we will see. I visited her this week and she is talking about things that is quite well for a seven y/o. We went to Legoland and I was the proudest father when I saw her driving the car and obeying the rules of the road. Thats my girl. As I go through divorce I realized some important things. First which is the no brainer is take of your child finacially. But also most importantly the childs heart and being a Father. I call everynight and I’m anxious to hear about her day and what she learned. And finally a good father is there for there child also to listen. Being a good father has bearing on the distance. This is something Im learning from many people. But its how you are as a whole.

    Sincerely

    A Good Father

  4. i am about to become a father. i want to do the best that i can and not be like my father was. i want to enjoy raising my child and spend all of the good times with her/him and my girlfriend. i want to be there emotionally and phisically to the furthest. i am still really scared about me and the mother because even though we love each other so much i still cant help but to think that she is not ready for this commitment. she is still young and wants to go and party and i really encourage her to not do that and to change for herself so that the baby wont have to deal with drug use in the house growing up. i love her with all of my heart and i need help talking to her if you have any ideas holla at me

  5. im married and my husband works full time and I work part-time I am the primary caregiver to our 11 month old son. The husband doesnt make time for our son but can make time for his dumb video games he doesnt have a labor job he sits on his butt all day answereing phones. I have tried everything I can think of to get him to be a father not a excellent one but a decent father. His excuse is that he never had a dad growing up and doesnt know how to be a dad. WHAT DO I DO?????????????? He doesnt help me with household duties or help me with the baby its always one excuse after another with him..

  6. im married and my husband works full time and I work part-time I am the primary caregiver to our 11 month old son. The husband doesnt make time for our son but can make time for his dumb video games he doesnt have a labor job he sits on his butt all day answereing phones. I have tried everything I can think of to get him to be a father not a excellent one but a decent father. His excuse is that he never had a dad growing up and doesnt know how to be a dad. WHAT DO I DO?????????????? He doesnt help me with household duties or help me with the baby its always one excuse after another with him..

  7. Im not sure if i should even be asking for help here but im getting desperate.
    I am going to marry a woman whom i love with all my heart and she has a daughter whom of which i was there from the begining fo her birth. She is not biologicaly mine, I try to raise her as i would my own but, it seems i cant do that i dont know if its just me or if my fiance is being unfair towards me, i feel left out and helpless. How do you know if you are being a good dad, or if your just being used.

  8. I am married man with two kids, my house have never have rest one day due to my younger sister that stay with us.She always have problem with my wife not the chilren in the house.Our two parent alive but they are not working,she is being trainned by me. What can I do in order to stop this Problem in the House.

  9. John Doe,
    My advise to you is to have a “heart to heart” with your fiance and tell her how you feel about her daughter and what you intend. She may have it in her head that you will NEVER be her daughters “dad” in which case you have a real problem.
    Cathy, Try asking him how he feels not having had a father and ask him to think about giving his children something better than what he had. Time is the main thing children need from us. If we tell them they are our life we must show them by making them a priority. He doesn’t need to know how to be a father…that will come with spending time with them.

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