20 Completely Arbitrary Rules For Being a Good Dad

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-father-daughter-beach-little-looking-ocean-morning-image310697201.  Be a dad, as opposed to mom’s helper.

2.  Every dad needs to be able to do an impression of a completely fearsome creature, that can be defeated by a four-year-old.

3.  If you have no clue what to do at home, you’d be surprised how often ordering Chinese food for dinner solves 75% of the problem.

4.  Your kids have a need to be proud of you. That thing that makes them proud, is probably that thing you stopped doing to spend more time with the kids.

5.  Know that the best moments in your kid’s life, are typically preceded by the words, “Don’t tell your mother.”

6.  Accept that you’re probably going to screw up being a dad at some point. All you can do is your best, and hope that one day it was enough, and you’ll be forgiven.

7.  Know that when you were little, your father was totally faking it. He had no clue what he was doing with you. Yet you thought he was amazing.

8.  Small naughty children are like Klingons. Speak to them as such, and they respond so much better. Come here now. Put toys away.

9.  Go to your kids’ parent teacher nights and the other school stuff like their plays and sports events. Yes they can be painfully boring, but you being there is important to them.

10. Part of your job is to let your kids take risks and fail. Life isn’t always fair, or easy, or simple. Sometimes the best teacher is a bad outcome. It’s your job to let them get hurt, but not injured. It’s your job to let them get embarrassed, but not ashamed. It’s your job to let them get anxious, but not fearful.

11. Have a good marriage. In a world of divorce, you’d be surprised how seriously kids appreciate that you’re still together.

12. Show the kids how to do stuff. Almost anything counts.

13. You should treat the kids all the same in a general sense, but different kids have different needs, so you’re going to have to treat them differently too.

14. Play ball inside the house. The kids are more valuable than the things that can be broken.

15. You do a vastly better job at defeating under the bed monsters than mom ever will.

16. Wear the dumb crap they bought you for your birthday, if only during the party.

17. If your kid does something good, put it on display on the fridge. When you take it down, keep it all in a secret stash somewhere.

18. Realize that half the time your kids are hanging out and watching sports with you, or whatever it is you’re into, your kids aren’t really into it. They’re just not opposed to it and are here just to hang out with you.

19. Tell them the stories from when you were little, about your dad.

20. Say you love them.


  1. Awesome!

  2. ANewHope says:

    AK! Great stuff!!! My 4 yo daughter especially is a pleaser and always telling me how handsome and wonderful I am. I think she looks so foolish since she’s the only one who sees it, so I’ve been telling her to stop saying those things. Maybe I should just STFU with my daughter too.

  3. Justsomeguy says:

    Now that the forum is on zen mode — can we have the mindful parenting book please? This was a great post

  4. I was once a little girl who idolised her father. I’m still sure he was 99% perfect! The little one needs to think her Dad is perfect. You should not disabuse her. One day she will think the same of her husband and will have therefore a better chance of happiness. :-) C

  5. Good rules, one thing I would add is
    Trust your children – there’s nothing builds confidence like trust.

    I wish I had good stories about my dad to tell them, but he wasn’t really interested in his children. Should I make things up?

  6. Good point on trust! :-)

    My Dad used stories of ancestors particularly his Mum to inspire us. I’m sure you can think of some good things about your Dad. Perhaps he was a good provider or skilled at something? I’d avoid telling the negative things. ….and also, I’ve observed so many cases where children have been alienated from one parent by the other. Perhaps there is a a reason your Dad was disinterested? Matter might bear investigating???

  7. Karl_Hungus says:

    I know I am late to this, but I just wanted to say how much I liked this post, Athol. Fabulous wisdom. Thanks.

  8. #1 strikes a cord with me…. so often I’m simply implementing her version of what family time should be. Maybe just some un-planned time is all I need to ask for, otherwise it all gets consumed with planned activities. I think dads are good at letting things happen and not having to control the trajectory (other than preventing eyes getting poked out, etc).

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