Good dads are not always tall, handsome, charming, or engaging. Some are short, average looking, quiet and shy. But a good dad always looks like a hero to his children. His super power may be juggling oranges. His cape may be a bath towel. His undershirt may not have an ‘S’ on the front but it might say ‘World’s Greatest Dad”, a gift from last Father’s Day.

No doubt, dads come in all shapes sizes and dispositions. But all good dads have something special to share with their children. It might be his presence at any important event. It could be his duty to see to his kids’ well-being and safety. It could be sharing his love of by sharing his interests. Usually, they just do what they need to do for their family.​Following are examples of three dads I know personally, all of whom could be nominated for “Dad of the Year” in any year!

The first Dad has a bald spot on the back of his head. He is overweight and misses his days as a smoker. He never finished high school, but he has an honest, difficult job and works very hard every day. He has a charming habit of mispronouncing words and has a hearty laugh. He has two children who have been adored by him and his mother. They are getting the education he never had. They have been encouraged, loved, guided, and corrected.  A more dedicated father you will not find. This is what a good dad looks like.

​This next dad is quiet. He loves sports but will pass up a big game for his family. Growing up without a loving father, he was fortunate to have a mother and aunt who worked together to raise him and his sister. His aunt took him to basketball and baseball games, cultivating his love of sports. He waited into his thirties for the right person to marry and he and his wife now have a young son and a baby daughter. You should see the look in his eye when he talks about, or plays with his three-year-old son. He makes sure he has lots of balls around, just in case his son takes to them. He gently holds his eight-month-old daughter in the air and kisses her on the neck and cheeks. Diapers, cooking, laundry, he pitches in no matter the chore. This dad will be the dad he never had. His dedication to fatherhood and family are as obvious as his soft-spoken nature. This is what a good dad looks like.          

The third dad stays up late to catch up with a workload that could never be caught. When he does take a break, he researches his interests in nature, science, and a myriad of other things. But he is never too busy to teach his two young daughters about different kinds of bugs, the constellations, or plants. He combs his older daughter’s hair in the morning, not as well as her mother, but not bad. Often he speaks German to his girls to spark their interests in language, even his two-year-old. This dad talks up to, not down to his daughters. He teases, hugs, cheers, and loves. This is what a good dad looks like.

These are three men I know in my life who are worthy symbols of excellent fathering. A good dad, with a good mom, will give a child the most basic elements necessary to have successful lives. That being the knowledge they are loved, self-confidence, a support system, encouragement, understanding limits, and so much more. So what does a good dad look like? He’s tall or short, fat or skinny, black, white, or brown, bald or bearded, quiet or loud, but most of all he is engaged with his children, he is a mentor, and he is proud—to be a dad!

About the Author

Michael Smith, the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Need, is the father of three adult children and grandfather of four. He is a retired US Air Force officer and resides with his wife in St. Louis, MO. Michael can be reached for question or comment at [email protected].

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