How To Be a Great Dad

4 December 2021

3.9 MINS

Fathering is no walk in the park. But we can learn and improve by taking in the advice of those who have walked the path before us. Read on for some great practical tips for fathering.

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” These words are found in an ancient book called the book of Proverbs. The bottom line is that if we want to be successful as dads, we need to get advice from those who have some runs on the board.

Being a father is a huge challenge. All children are different and all families are different. That is why in the Good to Great course, we invite input from ten different dads. In the Courageous Fathering course, we have input from 28 different dads. When it comes to getting advice about being a great dad, the more, the merrier.

Leo Babauta on Fathering

My job is to share my own tips and ideas on how to be a great dad. The other part of my job is to scour the internet for the same. The phrase in the song by Neil Young, “Just a Miner for a Heart of Gold“, comes to mind.

Well, I have some gold for you today. The more I learn about Leo Babauta, the more I like him. He is a committed minimalist, which is not such a bad thing.

Leo Babauta is a father of six based in Northern California. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog with a million readers. Leo is a ‘simplicity’ blogger and a bestselling author who wants to help people lead a simple life.

How to Be a Great Dad

Leo’s article entitled “How to be a Great Dad – 12 Awesome Tips” is excellent. It reads:

I’m often asked about raising six kids and being productive and achieving goals and changing habits in the midst of raising so many kids. But here’s the thing: I do all the other stuff, the productivity stuff, because of my kids.

They, and my wife, are my reason for being.

It is my lifelong goal to be the best dad possible, and while there are many ways I can still improve, I think I’m a pretty great dad already, when I sit back and think about it. I know there are some readers who are just starting out in their careers as dads, and this post is for you.

How can you be a great dad? As always, my list of tips:

  1. Put their interests first, always. Do you enjoy drinking or smoking? Guess what — it’s not good for them, and you’re setting an example with everything you do. I quit smoking about 18 months ago not for my sake, but for my kids. Now, it is still important to take care of yourself (otherwise you can’t take care of them), but you should still have them in mind.
  2. Protect them. As a dad, one of your main roles is protector. There are many ways you need to do this. Safety is one: child-proof your home, teach them good safety habits, set a good example by using your seatbelt, make sure they use a car seat if below a certain age & weight, etc. But financial protection is also important: have life insurance, car insurance, an emergency fund, a will.
  3. Spend your spare time with them. When we get home from work, often we’re tired and just want to relax. But this is the only time we have with them during the weekdays, often, and you shouldn’t waste it. Take this time to find out about their day, lay on the couch with them. On weekends, devote as much time as possible to them. While work may be your passion, it won’t be long before they’re grown and no longer want to spend time with you. Take advantage of these years. The thing kids want most from their dads is their time.
  4. Give them hugs. Dads shouldn’t be afraid to show affection. Kids need physical contact, and not just from their mums. Snuggle with them, hug them, love them.
  5. Play with them. Go outside and play sports. Do a treasure hunt. Have a pillow fight. Play Transformers or Pokemon with them. Don’t just watch TV. Show them how to have fun. See 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap.
  6. Do the “mum” stuff. Things that are traditionally considered “mum” duties are not just for mums anymore — changing diapers, feeding, bathing, rocking them to sleep in the middle of the night. Dads should help out as much as they can, sharing these types of duties equally if possible. And in fact, if you’re a dad of a baby, this is the perfect time to bond with your child. You should leap at the chance to do these things, because that’s how you start a life-long close relationship with your child.
  7. Read to them. This is one of the most important things you can do for your child. First of all, it’s so much fun. Kids books are really cool, and it’s great when you can share something this wonderful with your child. Second, you are teaching them one of the most fundamentally important skills (reading) that will pay off dividends for life. And third, you are spending time with them, you’re sitting or lying close together, and you are enjoying each other’s company. See the Best All-Time Children’s Books.
  8. Stand by mum. Don’t contradict their mother in front of them, don’t fight with her in front of them, and most definitely don’t ever abuse her. How you treat their mother affects their self-esteem, and the way they will treat themselves and women when they grow up. Be kind and respectful and loving of their mother. And always work as a team — never contradicting statements of the other.”

To read Leo’s final four tips, see here.


Hopefully, you can put one of these into action and work your way up to all of them. The important thing is to have a go!

Yours for Having a Go,

Warwick Marsh

Image by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash.

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