The Measure of a Dad
“I was a Daddy’s girl.”
Judge Hatchett, a TV judge from a few years back, used to say this proudly every chance she got. And I knew it was to honor her father at every opportunity. When she said it, you didn’t have to wonder what she meant. You didn’t have to wonder what he did. It was clear, whatever it was, he had a great relationship with her. And really, what else matters?
The fact that she called him Daddy said it all. We all have fathers, but not as many of us have Dads. Dads are scarce. You know when you have one and so does everyone who knows you. He’s more than just “father.”
Fathers are the biological link in your life. Sometimes they’re just the guy who married Mom. Fathers can exist without you ever knowing them. They can be good for you, or bad. They can like you or not. Fathers can live in the same house with you, and never take the time to show you it matters. Fathers are there by chance.
Dad, on the other hand, is the guy who loves you just because you’re you. He loves you just because he made you. He thinks you’re special and does what he can to show that. He takes up for you, and he protects you. He wants you to do better than he did, and when you do, even if it’s a small accomplishment, he tells everybody about it. The world may never know him, but a Dad makes sure that everybody in his world knows you. A Dad makes you a part of his life.
There are so many books and experts on how to be a great father. On the website AskMen.com, they have a checklist of twelve traits of a great father. They ask that men check the list to find out where they fall. They had some good points, so I will share the list. According to the website, great fathers: 1) Are good disciplinarians 2) Allow mistakes 3)Have open minds 4)Teach their children to appreciate 5)Accept that their children aren’t exactly like them 6)Spend quality time with their children 7)Lead by example 8) Are supportive and loyal 9)Challenge their kids to be their best 10)Teach their children lessons 11)Protect their children 12)Show unconditional love.
Now, while I would share this list with someone wanting to know what traits make a good father, I think being a good Dad is somewhat different. I think it’s far more basic. It has something to do with simply being yourself—silly, goofy, serious, stern—but always being there for your child and showing you love your child no matter what. You know you’re doing something right as a Dad when they aren’t afraid to come to you. When they seek your advice and support. When they show they trust you. When they find a way to recognize you, as the judge did on her TV show, to show they care.
All children have fathers, some children have Dads. What do you want for your child?