I don’t know about you, but I think I’m a pretty cool dad. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, when we had things like Walkmans, the birth of the World Wide Web, Bob Saget on America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Nintendo 64. I even had what it took to survive the Oregon Trail. I’m sure, like you, I’ve only grown in my coolness. But recently, I think my preteen son is starting to think I’m not so cool. And that’s most likely on him, because he just doesn’t understand what cool is. Right? Right. Fine—fortunately, being cool isn’t required to being a great dad.
I believe a lot of dads think being cool is a necessity for good parenting. I’ve seen a lot of dads trying to be their kids’ friends and seeking to ensure their kids are never uncomfortable or feel pain. They believe if they’re cool, their kids are going to like them and that that’s the definition of good parenting. Unfortunately, this is setting their kids up for hard lessons and potential failure in the future. Here are 4 reasons NOT to be the cool dad.
1. Your kids don’t need you to be cool.
When kids hit the preteen and teen years, everyone around them is making every possible effort just to be “cool.” Your kids see people pretending to be things they aren’t and when a dad does this just to be cool, it sends the wrong message to his kids. Your kids need a role model. Be someone who is confident and knows who he is.
2. Your coolness doesn’t add what you think it does.Kids need someone to guide them, to let them know when they’re heading in the wrong direction.
Many dads think if they can be the cool dad, it will help their kids. They try being cool by giving their kids whatever they want and never telling them no. They think kids need freedom and comfort. But what kids need is structure. Structure allows kids to feel a sense of belonging and safety. Kids need someone to guide them, to let them know when they’re heading in the wrong direction. Be a dad who sets good boundaries for your kids.
3. Your effort to be cool is actually hurting your kids.
Kids need a parent and many times this means you’re not going to be cool with them all the time. Kids need someone who is going to love them unconditionally, who isn’t afraid to push back when they’re making mistakes. That’s not always seen as cool in the moment, but if you do it right, one day your kids are going to thank you for not being cool! Again, this means being comfortable in your role as a dad and often, it also means tough love.
4. Your kids need a great dad.
Your role is unlike any other role in the universe for your kids. It’s unlike any other relationship your kids will ever have. You are a provider, protector, advocate, guide, mentor, discipliner, and more. Your kids don’t need a great friend who’s cool all the time. They need a great dad to simply be their dad. From birth to age 10, our kids are going to think we’re amazing and can do nothing wrong! Once they get into those preteen years and older, we’re most likely going to be anything but cool to them. And that’s OK! Because hopefully, as you embrace your role as a dad, one day, when your kids are older and start having their own kids, you then can become the cool dad and their best friend.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share iMOM’s 11 Ways to be the Meanest Mom Around with your wife.
Sound off: What word or words would you use to describe the type of dad you are?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Would you rather me be your best friend or the best dad? Why? Is there a difference between those two?”