Be honest! Be reflective. Don’t think yourself a bad dad if you can’t answer all these questions positively. There is no grade. This is just a vehicle to become a better dad. By the end of the checklist, you will be beaming, taking note of needed corrections, or most likely, both. It can only help you to be a better father.
Are you there for them, not just around?
- Do you/did you hold your children as babies and toddlers?
- Do you enjoy spending time with your kids?
- Do you make time to focus on your kids?
- Would you consider yourself loving and do your kids KNOW that you care for them?
- On occasion, do you give them special one-on-one attention?
- Do you comfort your kids when appropriate?
- Are you willing to be ‘hated’ for doing the right thing for your children?
- Do you really listen when spoken to?
- Do you have fun together?
Do you help your children face their fears?
- Do you push (encourage) your meek children forward and hold back (protect) your adventurous children?
- Are you aware of any peer pressure they may be facing and how to deal with it?
- Do you give them reachable challenges to conquer to build up their confidence?
- Do you praise their efforts and rejoice when they are persistent?
- an you tell if and when your help will make them stronger or weaker?
Does your family work together and support each other?
- Do you and their mother see eye to eye on how to raise your children? Can you compromise?
- Do you continue to parent the only way you know how, or do you research other options?
- Are you aware of how much you, as a father, can influence your children in both positive and negative ways? If not, read my blog or books on fatherhood.
- Do you develop family traditions that are loved by the entire family?
- Do you know children’s friends? Do you approve of their values?
- Is diversity allowed and cooperation encouraged in your home?
- Are you careful to not favor one child over another?
- Do you never give in, give in too much, or give in as appropriate to your children’s requests?
- Do you communicate clearly with the children’s mother regarding punishments, rewards, their whereabouts, schedule etc.?
Are you a good example to your children and do you represent yourself well?
- Do you avoid abusing your power as a father, using influence instead of force?
- Do you have an open mind toward things you don’t understand?
- Are you consistent in your actions, discipline, encouragement, love?
- Following your lead, are your children respectful and kind to others?
- Are you a good model for your daughters to know how to be treated by boys or other men?
Is building the character of your children a conscious part of your parenting?
- Would you want your children to act as you do? Children will usually mimic you.
- Do you encourage your children’s passions, dreams, and individuality?
- Do you realize that lessons taught when your children are young will be anchored in them, but missed lessons may haunt you for a long time? Prevention is much easier than healing!
- Do you allow them to make mistakes (for learning) when no one or nothing will get hurt?
- Do you teach, or exemplify to your kids, kindness, values, discipline, or manners?
- Do you praise good behavior while redirecting/correcting inappropriate behavior?
- Do you help them to make responsible choices?
- Do you tell your children mistakes are okay, but known wrongdoing is NOT a mistake?
- Do you instill integrity, teaching what’s right to do and what is wrong to do?
- Do they know what humility means and how it can help them to be liked and respected?
- Do you teach your children to be self-reliant and to be responsible for their actions?
- Have you taught them how to earn, value, save, and spend money?
- Do your children know how to set and meet goals?
- Do you emphasize and support education?
If you have plowed through this checklist, congratulations! Every question in this checklist is explained, discussed, or answered in my book, “The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs”.
The mere fact that you went through it all indicates you probably did well on your self-inspection. Your most important personal contribution to your family and society is your dedication to the welfare of your children. But none of us are perfect and we do have many distractions. It’s good to review this checklist occasionally, maybe every Father's Day week, to check up on yourself while you are checking up on your children. Ask for guidance if you could use some help!
Michael Byron Smith (Mike)