What is a good dad? What does it mean to be a good dad?

I suppose everyone defines “good dad” differently, so I can only speak to what I feel like the definition is. However, it’s something I’ve been thinking about pretty often lately.

You see, being a good dad is important to me. It’s not just something that I do for my children—it’s something I do for myself, too. I know how important it is to be the kind of person that your kids need you to be.

My Definition of a “Good Dad”

First and foremost, I believe that I have to be there physically and emotionally for my kids. It’s not enough for me to be there physically if I’m not engaged with them. Similarly, I don’t feel good about being engaged with them if I have to do it over Facetime or Skype.

I have spent most of my children’s lives as their main caregiver, and I have a very close bond with all three of them. By close bond, I mean that I listen to and understand my kids. I listen to their stories, ask for their opinions, give them hugs and show affection, and sometimes I just sit with them and watch their favorite TV show.

Okay, honestly, I’m not too thrilled about that last “quality time” option—usually, their TV shows involve some super annoying teenagers making ridiculous faces while they talk. Know what I think of those annoying teenagers? I think they should get off my lawn.

I also believe that part of being a good father is being a provider. I have to make sure they have good food to eat, a warm place to sleep, and a safe, comfortable home.

Trouble in Paradise

So, how does it affect me as a father if some of those ingredients are missing?

I am currently struggling in my ability to provide. My kids have food and a place to sleep, but things are tight. I feel like I’m not thriving for the first time in my life.

Personally, I’m going to do everything I can to get out of this slump. Still, sometimes I feel that because of my current situation, I’m not fulfilling my duties as a father. I want my kids to see their dad thrive rather than just get by. It’s hard to think about. But I do, every day. 

Another thing I wonder is, is it even possible to be everything for your kids? And should I be? Now that I’m single, I feel the need to perform all my dadly duties well. However, I realize that my kids have their own rich lives, and that they may not even know or understand my struggles.

It’s hard to grapple with that kind of self-doubt as a father. Providing, being physically and emotionally present, and finding a way to thrive all feel like bowling balls that I’m supposed to be juggling right now.

So, We’re Juggling Bowling Balls Now?

I know some men might feel like they are not as emotionally in touch with their children as with their significant other.

Others may be away more than they would like to be.

Still more may not be able to provide for their children as well as they need.

How do we balance all of these responsibilities? Is it even possible?

So, I guess my final question is this: how do you prioritize? Is one thing more important than another? Is it possible to do everything?

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