How to be a great dad

It seems obvious that everyone sets that standard themselves. Being a great dad isn’t achieving one set of measures, or even ensuring that your child confirms you’re a great dad whenever prompted.

Being a great dad is an every day climb up the mountain, or a thousand-task test of parenting skills: patience, generosity, creativity, intelligence, wisdom. What works one day is a failure the next. Not all of us can stay at home with our kids, attend every concert and performance, or even make macaroni and cheese. Unlike moms, who seem to have more prescribed roles by society in this area, we blunder about trying to maintain our manhood, while aiming to be good and present parents. But, what does that entail? It’s not just making breakfast, but knowing how to make oatmeal like mommy makes it. It’s not picking them up at school, but being there five minutes early because you know a five-year old doesn’t want to be the last one picked up. It’s not just setting out the clothes to wear, but allowing your daughter to wear all pink. It’s not just buying the toy, but playing it over and over for hours because you can’t let the kid “just win.”

Today I failed at being a great dad to my daughter. It was the big Chinese New Year’s trip to Chinatown and she had her Chinese dress all set up to wear, but all her tights were in the laundry. I quickly volunteered to wash them and throw them in the dryer. Twenty minutes later with my carpool partner knocking at the door, the tights were still soaking wet and unwearable. Daughter, in tears, left the house, tights-less. The story has a happy ending only because I had the free time to continue drying the tights and race over to the school to beat the field trip departure and hand over the now-dry tights. Crisis averted, daddy restored to hero status. But how fragile that perch!

I’ll try in this blog to provide a forum for dads of different types and styles to relate their challenges and solutions. I’ll also give some advice on things to do, places to visit, and some things to have in your pocket, both literally and figuratively, as you try to be a great dad, whatever that means to you.

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