On this Father’s Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be a good father. This has caused me to once again reflect on my relationship with my deceased father and to question whether he a good father when he was alive? We weren’t close at all. In fact we never had much to say to each other. He never developed a close emotional bond with me or my siblings, or anyone else for that matter. It just wasn’t apart of his personality. Regardless, he was a good man who always put his family first and provided for us. We never lacked for anything and he rarely answered “no” if we asked him for something. He wasn’t perfect… none of us are… but when it’s all said and done, as I reflect, I do believe he was a good father to us.
Since my son has been born, I think a lot about being a good father to him and lately more and more, I have been considering what that really means. I look around at my peers who are fathers and ask myself: “are they good fathers and if so, why?” It also leads me back to why I think my father was a good father. I must admit that I consciously interact with my son in ways I wish my father had with me, so I am building a strong, close relationship with him. Anyway, I have concluded that there isn’t one standard answer to this question. There are many characteristics and varied dynamics in a relationship that can lead one to be considered a good father.
So I now turn my attention to what makes a “cool dad”. We all know someone, whether personally or a celebrity, who we consider to be “cool”. They are usually charismatic, don’t operate within what we would term: “the norm” and are trend-setters. They have this certain“swagga”, so that when they enter a room, or when we are in their presence, they become the center of attraction. We want to be like them. Secretly… truth be told… sometimes we wish we were them.
How does this translate into fatherhood? Well here are some attributes which I believe makes a father… a cool dad. Feel free to add your own jazz licks to this composition! It’s a jazzuloo thang…
1. A cool dad marries the mother of his children
Hello! I’ve lived with a woman and I’ve been married (twice). So I can relate when I hear of situations where people have been living together for years, get married, and 6 months later they divorce. It’s a whole different mentality and level of commitment when you live with someone vs. when you marry them. And for the record, if you have numerous children by numerous women, you’re not a cool dad, you’re a serial fuckup!
2. A cool dad treats the mother of his children with the utmost respect
Physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse is absolutely not cool. A cool dad is even cognizent of his tone of voice when he speaks to her in the presence of their children. It’s also very uncool to make derogatory remarks about her and her new man, boyfriend or husband!
3. A cool dad is the supreme role model, especailly in the more obscure things
I remember a few years ago reading about a study which looked at some of the behaviours of young black boys in comparisons to their white peers. One that I found astonishing was that they found a majority of the black boys would more often sit when they urinated, while the white boys who would stand. It concluded that’s what the black boys had learnt (and seen) from their primary caregivers, who were their mothers and/or other female members of the family. My almost 3 year old son, who is potty training, now refuses to sit when he pees. He removes his diaper and wants to stand like his dad.
4. A cool dad spends quantity as well as quality time with his children
In Canada we are allowed 1 year of paid parental leave. My wife took the first 8 months and I took the remaining 4. It was the best decision I ever made in my life… next to asking my wife to marry me of-course (wink). During that time when I nurtured my son, he and I developed a unique emotional bond which is the foundation of our relationship. So now he expects me to spend a lot of time with him, as well as my undivided attention.
5. A cool dad dresses his children for success
Instead of buying your children expensive designer, name brand clothes, which they will outgrow in a month or so anyway, buy generic brands from department and/or discount stores. There’s also no shame with wearing “hand me downs” from relatives and friends. The money saved can then be invested in a fund for your children’s college or university education.
6. A cool dad is really cool when…
…he watches Dora the Explorer instead of football; dances with The Wiggles; gets on the floor to do yogo with the Waybaloos; plays doll house, dress up and tea party instead of the lastest video game; hugs his son and lets him cry instead of telling him to “man up”; turns off the t.v. or computer to explain for the umpteenth time: “why….?”; goes to the park to play when all you just want to do is “veg out” after dealing with people’s bullshit all day.
Happy Father’s Day… and Be Cool!