The Seven Essential Traits of a Father

August 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Joe Kita Blogs

by Joe Kita

How many do you have?

Children would have you be perfect. In that sense, every parent is bound to some level of failure. But if you have the following attributes, you will be as good as any father can be:

Knowledgeable: A child’s inclination is to question the world, and a father’s duty is to supply as many answers as he can. This doesn’t necessarily take a high degree of intelligence. In fact, you can usually do a pretty good job with basic common sense. The important thing to remember is that even if you don’t know the explanation, your kid thinks you do. Don’t let him down. There’s no compliment that’s greater.

Patient: When I was a boy and I did something wrong, I used to run to my father’s closet and tie knots in all this belts. That way, when he came home and reached for one, it would take a while to undo. And in that time, his anger would subside, and he’d begin thinking rationally again. A father needs to knot his own belts. He needs patience so he’ll hesitate before reprimanding, pause before judging, and wait until the both of you are good and ready.

Curious: Few things unite a dad and a child more than mutual wonder and the urge to explore. When you get down on your hands and knees, first in amazement at something you see and then in a determined search to unearth a clue, you are becoming your child’s equal. It is by learning that we grow wise and also young. Kids are forever asking, “Why?” Good fathers do, too.

Generous: Be generous with your time, your money, your possessions, your love, your soul. If you aren’t prepared to completely share every facet of your life and, most important, yourself, then you aren’t ready to be a father. Now that my kids are getting older, my life is finally starting to come back. I can call it my life again whereas for the last decade or so it’s been ours.

Imperfect: The best dads are the ones who aren’t afraid to screw up in front of their kids. They’re the ones who drop an occasional fly ball and laugh, who burn a meal and then treat everyone to dinner, who call a repairman to fix what they couldn’t, who finish second (or last) with no regrets. These guys make such good fathers because they’re so real. If you’re not perfect, your children will never feel they have to be.

Respectful: Have respect for three things: your body, your spouse, and God. Keeping yourself in good shape teaches your children self-esteem. Loving their mother unconditionally shows them that they should too. And humbling yourself before a Higher Power lets them know there will always be something bigger than them.

Loyal: No matter how fed up I got with my old man, I knew there was one thing I could count on. He’d always be there to pick me up, just like he said he would, initially by hand then by car and, much later in life, with a good word or a few bucks. I never realized how much that support meant until he died. Your children need to know that your love remains no matter what. It’ll never be late; it’ll never leave early. You are the one person they can depend on.

Excerpted from The Father’s Guide to the Meaning of Life by Joe Kita. To order a copy, click here.

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