10 Tender Truths for Being a Good Dad | The BridgeMaker

10 Tender Truths for Being a Good Dad

By on Jun 17, 2012

Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. – Proverb

Being a father to adult children is a wonderful experience. I get to provide friendship, encouragement, and honest feedback without the need to reinforce curfews or review homework. This perspective also gives me the opportunity to look back and see how far I’ve come as a dad.

When I consider the last 26 years, it’s easy for me to focus on the mistakes I made. But along with the missteps has been the desire to give my children more than I had. Some days I get it right as a father; some days I get it wrong; but on all days I promise to love my children wholly, and tenderly.

Just as important as love, is the legacy I want to pass down to my children. The legacy I want to leave is more valuable than the financial investments I’ve made, bigger than the best idea I’ve had and more comforting than the words I’ve written. The legacy I want to leave my children {pictured above; l to r: Caitlin (23), Emily (13), Brandon (26) and Andrew (20)} is the capacity to love their children authentically, intentionally and with a healthy and confident heart.

While we still have a few years left with Emily before Mary Beth and I are officially “empty nesters,” I know I’ll always try to be a good dad no matter where my children live, their age, or how they chose to live their lives. And along with my love, it will be these 10 tender truths for a being a good dad that I want my children to remember most when they are asked later in life, “What was your dad’s legacy.”

  1. Put their needs first. Our children learn from us; they are inspired by us; and they depend on us to keep them warm, safe and dry. Think of what your children need, first.
  2. Keep your word. Do what you say and say what you do. Children flourish when they have consistency in their lives. Keeping your word also teaches the values of honor, respect and trust.
  3. Show your affection. Hug them, kiss them and tell them that you love them. Don’t assume they always know this. Show them they are loved every chance you get.
  4. Remind them of their value. Remind your children they have gifts no one else has. My children are special and each one has their own unique brand of specialness. I tell Brandon, Caitlin, Andrew and Emily the gifts I see in them as often as I can.
  5. Cherish their mother. Love, respect and honor their mother. There’s no better way to tell your children they are valued than by cherishing the person who brought them into this world.
  6. Be in the constant pursuit of your dream. Show your children that it’s okay to set ambitious goals or to dream big by being in constant pursuit of your dreams. Let your children know what you want in life and then go after it with passion and gusto.
  7. Share the workload with Mom. There are no “Mom” jobs and no “Dad” chores. Demonstrate to them that marriage is a shared responsibility. By jumping in and doing what’s needed, will give you the opportunity to build an even stronger bond with your children.
  8. Stand by your decisions. Demonstrate that not wavering on decisions nurtures confidence, resiliency and strengthens our faith. Your children will see the convictions that live in your heart and will become motivated to nurture that part of their hearts, too.
  9. Let them be who they want to be. Our children are born with their life purpose already in place. Remove your expectations and celebrate what they have in store for the world.
  10. Apologize when needed. When you are wrong, say you are wrong. Humility, honesty and contrition are not signs of weakness, but strength. Help make your children stronger by showing it’s okay to admit when we fall short.
A closer look

I’ve written about my children often. Here are four posts that give a closer look to what makes each one special, beautiful and more than worthy of a dad’s love:

Brandon | A Simple Path to Being a Good Father
Sometimes the simple path to being a good father is to allow your child to walk in front while you walk behind. From this vantage point you will see where your child is heading. You will see the obstacles more clearly and you will have a clearer view of what’s in their way. And if you keep your eyes open, you will learn more than you teach. Click here to read more…

Caitlin | World I Present My Daughter
She’s coming to you World. Appreciate her. Wrap your arms around her and love her with all you might. If you do, you will receive 10 times back whatever you gave. World – I present my daughter. Take good care of her. Click here to read more…

Andrew | A Simple Path to the Making of You
Last Sunday night was the perfect reminder to tell my son, and myself, to be sure to celebrate the moments that celebrate the making of you; and the making of me – even on the nights when we go one-for-four. Click here to read more…

Emily | A Simple Path to Gratitude
Driving home, the wipers kept up with the rain while providing a peaceful rhythm. Emily was tired after a long day and closed her eyes somewhere on I-435. We drove the rest of the way home in an appreciative silence. There was so much to be grateful for at that moment. Click here to read more…

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • newdad22


  • What a great list Alex!  And what a beautiful family.  I’ll take the time a little later to read each of their posts.  Hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day!

  • Happy Father’s Day  Alex!
    You have a beautiful family. I also love your list of priorities. They seem “just right” to me!

    •  Thanks so much Angela. Each one does feel right – simple, honest and true.