In the U.S. over a quarter of all children are raised in single-parent households. In The Bahamas, that figure trends far higher, with upwards of 70% of children born into single-parent homes. While there are instances where fathers are the single parent, single mothers predominate the statistic. Despite assumptions that most single mothers “got pregnant for money” or for other “selfish” reasons, for the most part, single mothers started out in committed relationships and never expected to become single parents.
Being a single mother doesn’t mean your children won’t become accomplished individuals. In fact, there are many instances of children raised by single mothers who went on to achieve great things, one of them being the former U.S. President Barak Obama. Conversely, having both parents in the home does not automatically mean children will have superior educational attainment and well-being. The quality of the parenting matters.
Father absence (that is, non-residence of a child’s biological father for some or all of their childhood) is a widely studied subject as, in many ways, we are moving towards a “fatherless society”. Studies have found that the father’s contact with the child does not necessarily have positive benefits. Quality of interaction matters. Economic contributions to the child, inter-parenting cooperation (i.e. good co-parenting), positive emotional involvement and an authoritative parenting style are more so linked to positive benefits for children (Good Therapy).
But how do you know a man will be a good father to his children, even before he becomes a dad?
10 Traits of a Good Father
- He wants to be a dad.
Men who do not wish to become fathers could see their child as more of a burden than a joy; whereas, men who want to become fathers are more likely to be eager to be a part of the child’s life.
2. He voices his disapproval with love.
You want the father of your children to be a good disciplinarian, but you also don’t want him to be a dictator or to shatter his children emotionally. There is a fine line between discipline and abusive behaviours. How does he correct you or address your shortcomings? Does he talk down to you or hit you or does he communicate with love to help you become a better person?
3. He is willing to explain or demonstrate.
A good father is a good teacher. I think of my own father helping me to ride a bike without training wheels or teaching me how to hammer a nail into wood. I think also of my father demonstrating to my brother how to build and put up shutters. There are some life skills that fathers are better equipped in teaching their children which are important in creating well-rounded adults.
4. He values quality time.
A good dad desires to create memories and special moments with his children. He takes the time to listen to his children and to assist them where he can.
5. He is not selfish.
If a man tends to think in terms of “I” or “me” verses “us”, he may not be a very good father as his selfishness may trump the needs of his child. Keep in mind that some men change after having children, but if a man is extremely self-absorbed and miserly, this may extend to his offspring.
One single dad said,
“There were many things that I had to change since [my son] began living with me. I had to give up certain privileges such as those late-night outings, spending money on clothes or new tennis, and even my eating habits have changed. This is all because now I had to conform to a new way of life that involves taking care of my son’s needs first, before any of mine can be met.” (The Tribune)
6. He leads by example.
If he can lead you in a way that is legal, honourable (to both you and Christ), one can expect this trait will trickle over into parenthood. A good father lives by the values that he wants his children to follow.
7. He is protective of his family.
A good father will do whatever he can for his family. He’ll take on a second job in order to provide for them, will put his own safety on the line to keep them out of harm’s way and will defend them however he can. His self-lessness will teach his children the importance of self-sacrifice.
8. He is supportive and loyal.
Children need to know that they have someone they can rely and depend on. If you feel your man is someone you can depend on, chances are your children will too.
9. He accepts that things don’t always have to be done “his way”.
Children are unique individuals. They have individual personalities and may approach situations different than we would. It is important that he respects differing values, opinions and methods.
10. He loves unconditionally.
This trait is thought to be the hallmark of a good father. Children may not remember the tennis, games or clothes that their parents bought, but they will remember the love they gave (or didn’t give). Even though his children may have faults and shortcomings, he loves them no less. If you continuously feel you have to prove yourself to your partner, his love (for you) may not be unconditional. Remember though, the lack of love and affection towards you does not mean he will not be a good father. Your relationship with your child’s father and ability to adequately co-parent can make a key difference in the type of relationship he is able to foster with his children.
This list above is by no means exhaustive. There are many character traits that describe a good father, many which we may have missed. What do you think makes a man a good dad? Let us know in the comments below.
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