What Makes for a Good Father?

Guest article:

It is only natural to judge a potential mate on their ability to produce and raise children. The Neanderthal inside of us is to blame. Science tells us that women shaped like hourglasses and men with strong chins tend to be more fertile which is why people with these traits come together in People Magazines 50 Most Beautiful People article each year.

Maybe that is why I married my husband. He does have a very distinct strong chin on a very distinct head. Of course, logic chimes in when I consider having a baby, and says, “my goodness, having his children is going to be miserable!”

Evolutionary judgment aside, I still find myself watching my husband for signs of fatherhood abilities.

What makes a good father really? Is it strength, dependability and discipline? Or compassion, kindness and forgiveness? There are many wonderful fathers in the world, all with their own unique personalities yet all distinctly different.

My husband displays some of the quintessential fatherly traits on a regular basis. He is loving, kind and responsible. Yet despite these qualities, I occasionally find myself swearing up and down to never have children with him. For example, after having a dog for a year, my husband still couldn’t seem to remember that the little doggie wants to poop after he wakes up in the morning. So, on those rare mornings, when I ask my husband to please take the dog out, rather than do it myself, my husband dutifully gets up, goes downstairs and opens the door, however, I hear the door re-open within about 10 seconds and he rolls back into bed with me. I start a conversation:

Me: “Thanks honey, did he poop?”

Husband: “No, does he poop in the morning?”

Me: Rolling out of bed to take the dog out again: “Yep, ever since the day we brought him home.”

Disclosure: After playing out this scenario about 15 times my husband has in fact got this one down now. Potty train puppy and husband– check.

I can’t have kids with someone who takes 12 months to remember the dog’s pooping schedule! If we really look at inherently great qualities of a father what do we get? Strength? Trees are strong, but you don’t see me asking a tree for a sperm donation and 18 years of parenting assistance. Devotion? Nothing has ever been more devoted to me than my dachshund, insistent on throwing open the bathroom  door anytime I’m doing “my business” in an effort to protect me at all times, but I’m definitely not going let my wiener dog be the one to help with 4 a.m. feedings. So what really makes a good father?

This leads me to one more story: My husband and I did the weekend grocery shopping together the other day. We are basically any cashier’s worst nightmare with 60% of our groceries being obscure produce, dried fruits and other products which require the memorization of produce codes. Our check out gal, clearly in training, flustered her way slowly through our groceries, madly flipping through her book of codes and calling out to co-workers for assistance. While we were walking out of the store my husband turned to me and said, “You know, before I married you I would’ve been totally annoyed at how long that took, but you’ve taught me to be a lot more patient now and can see that she was trying her hardest.”

And that is exactly why my husband is a good father. He has the ability to learn from people around him even if they never actually give him verbal advice. Fatherhood is as much (if not more) about learning as it is about teaching. If kids end up in the cards for us, he will learn everything he needs to know about being a great father from our children and he will take in these lessons with an open mind and an open heart. And that is what makes a wonderful father.

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One thought on “What Makes for a Good Father?

  1. urwife June 15, 2011 at 7:46 am Reply

    you’re absolutely right that it’s about learning. the daddy in our house took a while to catch on to some of the fundamentals. but he’s pretty good now, and while he remains a bit useless at some things, watching him snuggle up with our small one and read to her is a sight to behold 🙂 and it’s the shared process of becoming parents too – we have grown together into a little team, picking up each other’s mistakes as we go and muddling through. it’s great fun!

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