What kind of qualities does a good father have?


With a barely audible sigh, my husband scooped up the chocolate powdered-drink mix that had toppled out of the disorganization in our too-full pantry and onto the floor. I knew he was tired, but like many things he does to care for Tristan, our 2-year-old, he simply did the task without complaint.

He - like many fathers today - knows that for a two-career family to survive, both spouses need to share the household and child-care duties.

This teaches a child more than words ever could.

Tristan stopped his whining about having to wait for the pancake I was putting in front of him and gazed at his father. For just a moment, there was a break in his demands for "cup, spoon, milk, Quik!" as he studied the quiet demeanor of his father. Our son was taught a valuable lesson in patience that morning. And no words were spoken.


This little incident made me think about all the times fathers make a difference in the lives of their children simply by the way they respond to a situation. Passing on the right attitudes to children will benefit them far more than any instruction they could be given.

There's a lot written about all moms do to influence their children, and rightly so. Moms know how much effort it takes to raise a child.

But since this is Father's Day, dads deserve to be commended for what they do right.

The best way to mold a child's character is to model that behavior yourself. And as my husband says, "Hopefully some of it will rub off."

But what makes a good father? I think he's the man whose outlook on life isn't necessarily status quo.

It's the father who not only knows how to change diapers but views this task as an extra opportunity to talk with his baby.

It's the father who brings work home but waits to start it until the kids are in bed.

It's the father who teaches his son how to do laundry or his daughter how to change a tire.

It's the father who says "please" and "thank you" to his children on a regular basis.

It's the father who gives advice but also asks his kids for their opinions.

It's the father who never makes a promise he can't keep.

It's the father who skips his workout so he can watch his child's ball game.

It's the father who never says, "I told you so."

It's the father who smiles at his children.

It's the father who listens well enough to repeat a story his children have told him.

It's also the father who knows when something shared should remain confidential.

It's the father who views his work as a privilege and an opportunity.

It's the father who would rather spend Saturday morning watching cartoons with jelly-smeared faces in pajamas than with corporate contacts in golf shoes.

It's the father who knows that his kids don't always want a solution to their problems; sometimes they just want a listening ear.

And it's the father who sweeps up chocolate powdered-drink mix without a word.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean is editor of Lifestyle.

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