5 characteristics of great dads

A dad's attitude can make all the difference to his family.
A dad's attitude can make all the difference to his family. Photo: Getty Images

We've long lived with the model of the 'provider' dad who went off to work to earn the bacon, while the mum cared for the kids at home.

Fortunately we're not living in the 1950s anymore, and there's much more flexibility and choice about how families structure themselves. More mums are working and more dads are actively involved in caring for their kids.

This is all beneficial for our kids, as dads are just as important as mums when it comes to a child's healthy development. The interactions, connection and activities that dads share with their kids help them develop socially, emotionally and cognitively.

And when dads support their partners, they also have a big influence on their children's and the entire family's wellbeing.

Dads do matter. A lot. Which is why it's great to see a generation of dads who are more actively involved with caring, nurturing and loving their kids.

It can often seem that long work hours can get in the way of dads having a more active involvement in their kids' lives. But new research from the Journal of Family Issues, which assessed up to 1159 children living in two-parent families, shows that long work hours aren't strongly related to dad's involvement.

There's a subgroup of dads who are still very involved with their kids even though they work long hours. They tend to carve out time with their kids by cutting back on their own leisure time, or involving their kids in their leisure activities.

It seems that a dad's attitude makes all the difference. Dads who value their family life and their role as fathers prioritise and make the time to be involved. These more non-traditional attitudes ensure that they are more involved dads.

Here are five ways to think about the role of dads these days as described by Father-Inclusive Practice Guide.

Dads are responsible

A responsible dad can be relied upon to be actively involved in his kids' everyday care including bath time, dinner time and bedtime. He'll also be involved in their child care or preschool routines, and help make important decisions about his kids' education and care.

Dads are thoughtful

A remembering dad regularly thinks about his kids and keeps them in his mind even when they're not together. He also remembers special events and supports his kids' interests and friendships.

Dads are nurturing

A nurturing dad enjoys spending time with his kids. He uses time together to guide and teach his kids, encourage and support them, guide their behaviour, and have fun together.

Dads are affectionate

An affectionate dad shows his kids that he loves and cares for them. He gives them kisses and hugs, comforts them if they get upset, and listens and responds to them so they feel valued and heard.

Dads are interactive

An interactive dad plays and communicates with his kids during everyday activities such as gardening, cooking and shopping. He plays and explores with his kids, reads and talks to them, and takes his kids out into the community for events or activities.  

Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist, parenting author and a great believer in the power of intuitive parenting. You can find more parenting inspiration at jodiebenveniste.com.