Five men I know named Bob, Cedric, Andre, Steve, and Quentin have very different lives, but they have one thing in common. They know what it means to be a good dad. However, their approaches and best practices are different. When I asked each of them to tell me what they thought made them good fathers they discussed what they thought was the most important. Each of them listed something different.
Five guys, five solid ideas. We all have to find our own way, yes, but take a moment to think through the following pointers from Bob, Cedric, Steve, Andre, and Quentin. See what those five things are. Here are 5 ways to be a better dad.
1. Spend one-on-one time.
Bob has four children. They range in age from 7 to 16. “There are a lot of key factors in parenting,” Bob said. “But I’ve got to say, hands down, the most important tool in my belt is quality one-on-one time. It’s not easy, logistically, but I’ve made the commitment to do it and I think it pays off.” Bob’s “signature move” is breakfast. Each child has their own day and they’re all well known at his favorite local venue. Be like Bob and literally “be there” for your kids on a regular basis. “I found something that worked for us,” Bob said. “But the point is the individual time together. We have some really deep conversations and there’s no competition for my attention because they all know their morning is coming soon.”
2. Share a passion.
Cedric’s “thing” is Boy Scouts with his twin sons. He’s moved through the ranks with them and right now they’re finishing up Life. “Someone needs to find a way to get me an Eagle too,” he laughed. “If anyone’s earned it by now it’s me!” Cedric and his boys can’t get enough of camping, learning badge skills, and hanging out with the other Scouts. Maybe you’ll end up jogging with your kids, learning to cook together, or volunteering every week. Whatever it is, your relationship will be strengthened.
3. Love their mother.
“If I’ve got one plus going for me as a dad, it’s being the best husband I can be,” Steve said. His kids feel secure because their parents are secure. “They see the respect we have for each other,” Steve said, “and it rubs off. I’m not kidding when I say the best parenting advice I can give other dads is to be an awesome husband.”
4. Be consistent.
Andre points to consistency as his “ace-in-the-hole.” “The kids always know where they stand with me,” Andre said. “It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve found that my consistency is a rare gift for the family. The kids know where they stand, with no doubts. That’s a strong parenting attribute.”A great way to get involved at your child’s school is to attend an All Pro Dad’s Day at their school.
5. Volunteer at their school.
Quentin swears his go-to, can’t miss parenting plus has to be, “my high-profile role as a volunteer at their school.” You might not be able to be there two days a week like Quentin, but showing up at school means you care, you know what’s going on, and you are genuinely interested in your kids’ lives. “Plus there’s this consistency between home and school,” Quentin said. “There’s a lot to be said for being on the same page as the teachers too.” A great way to get involved at your child’s school is to do what matters this year and attend, or start, an All Pro Dad’s Day at your kid’s school.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you could do better?”