how to be a good dad

Win Father of the Year: How to Be an Extraordinary Dad

In the middle of my desk stands a small framed picture my son made when he was eight. It’s supposed to be me. The sketch may not be a great likeness but the words make my heart sing. “Not the ordinary Dad,” he wrote, “but mine.” That’s right—my second grader called me an extraordinary dad.

Extraordinary means outside of what is ordinary, conventional, usual, expected, everyday, average. We live in a world where fitting in with what is normal is not always what we want. Our opportunity as men, and especially as dads, is to break out of the ordinary. Let’s put some distance between ourselves and the same old, same old. Forget learning how to be a good father. Use these 5 simple tricks to become an extraordinary dad.

1. Be proactive, not reactive.

As men, it seems to be our nature to interpret life in terms of problems and solutions. Something happens, we react. But our kids need us camped out at the other end of the equation. They need dad to lead and guide rather than simply to react to problems.

2. Be process-oriented rather than results-driven.

I talk with a lot of men in relationship crisis. My #1 best-selling advice is this: Be patient. We often focus on an end result instead of on the journey to get there. Relax already. Enjoy the journey. Embrace the teaching aspect of parenting rather than impatiently waiting for them to “get it.” Slow down and enjoy the process. Your kids will be gone before you know it.

3. Model peace and calm, no matter what happens.

Peace and calm are learned and practiced. When we respond this way, our children will, too.

When we respond rather than react, we have the opportunity to choose calm. Peace does not simply happen outside our control. Peace and calm are learned and practiced. When we respond this way, our children will, too.

4. Teach your children how to live gratefully.

Satisfaction comes in response to understanding what really matters. When your children see what you are thankful for, they will begin to learn. So practice a discipline of living gratefully. Teach your children to appreciate life and to live from that framework. They will be grateful for you, too—and that will be extraordinary.

5. Be the dad who always puts his family first.

Many dads get sucked into the lie that more money, more promotions, a bigger house, and a nicer car are worth sacrificing your relationships. Don’t be that guy. Instead, always put your family first. (Check out these 5 qualities that make the best dads.) Show up for the kids’ events and be visible as a volunteer.

Sound off: What do you believe makes a dad extraordinary? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How does it feel when someone thanks you for something you’ve done?”