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14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

When I was younger, I thought being a dad was pretty easy. As I grew up, I realized what an amazing man my father is, because he made such a difficult job look like a walk in the park. While as of yet I have no experience in fatherly ways, I’ve learned from the best, so in that respect I feel qualified to explain some of the reasons great fathers are, well…great.

1. They listen to their children.

I don’t just mean they let their kids chat away while smiling and nodding. Anyone can do that. A great father will dive into the silly story his son is telling about some cartoon, creating conversational points around a topic he would not be talking about at all if it wasn’t with his own child. He’ll also be there for the tough conversations when his children need a shoulder to cry on, and be ready with actionable advice on how to move forward. Great fathers know their kids inside and out, because they’ve spent their parenthood listening to what their children have to say.

2. They’re interested in their children’s interests.

The best fathers take a genuine interest in what their children like to do. All fathers would absolutely love it if their children took up similar hobbies, but great dads let their kids pursue their own interests. Not only do they let their kids follow their own dreams, but great fathers also become interested in these dreams as well. They seek out information about their children’s hobbies on their own time, so they can spend more quality time with their kids. Great fathers take time away from their own interests in favor of watching their children thrive.

3. They care deeply.

They don’t just act as a shoulder to cry on, either. Amazing fathers preoccupy themselves with their children’s well-being, and take their kids’ burdens on themselves. Their mood depends on their children’s. How can they enjoy themselves if they know their kid is upset? On the other hand, on their worst days, how can a father be upset when he sees how happy his children are? Not only do great fathers care about their own family, but they also care for everyone, and everything, around them as well.

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4. They show they care deeply.

The best fathers drop the stoic act immediately, and only seldom pick it back up. My favorite part of A Christmas Story is the look on the father’s face when Ralphie finally gets that Red Ryder BB Gun. Throughout the whole movie, you got the feeling his father was a strict, no-nonsense type of guy—that is, until you see how happy he is to have made his son so ecstatic. The mark of a great father is the ability to let down his guard, and show his children just how much he cares.

5. They help their kids find the answers to their questions.

I’ll never forget this moment, and whenever I think about it I hope that this man was an uncle or relative without any kids of his own: At a local destruction derby event (which I was at for some reason I can’t remember), a young child behind me kept asking questions about the trucks and cars on the field. The adult with him eventually said “You sure do ask a lot of questions,” and that was the last time I heard the child speak.

If I was in that man’s shoes, I would have immediately taken the child’s hand, brought him down to the pit area, and found a friendly mechanic to answer those innumerable questions the boy had. By doing so, a father can not only get the answers his kid is looking for, but teach his child how to find answers when they aren’t sure of them.

6. They let their children’s imagination thrive.

Just like a father should guide their children toward the answers for questions they may have, he should also allow his child to spend time in wonderment. Remarking that a child is “just being silly” will shut them off to their own imagination, which at one point they may never recover. On the other hand, a father who provides a cardboard box, scissors, tape, and paint to their child will be absolutely amazed at what his kid can come up with in a short period of time. Great fathers provide endless opportunities for their children to expand their minds.

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7. They read, and read to their children.

One day when I was six years old, I ran into my parents bedroom at 6:30 in the morning crying because I had just read that Dr. Seuss had died. I was six. And I habitually read the morning paper. I’ll give you one guess where I picked up that habit from. Although my mother was usually the one to read a bedtime story to me, my father has always read the morning paper, and could always be caught reading a sports or fishing magazine throughout his day off. By doing so, he modeled the importance of reading for a variety of purposes to his (incredibly amazing) children every day of his life.

8. They handle the dirty work.

I’m sure my wife will hold me to this when we have kids in a few years, but here it goes: great fathers have no qualms about changing diapers, cleaning up vomit, or handling any type of grossness related to their children. They can look past the disgusting bodily fluids and know that not only are they helping their beloved wives, but they’re also bonding with their babies.

Cut forward about 12 years. Great fathers will also be able to talk to their growing children about adolescence, and have all the difficult “chats” that come up around that age. Again, while it might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, awesome fathers will push past the discomfort knowing that it will benefit their children in the long run.

9. They exhibit self-control.

Super dads never lose control. They might be seething, upset, or even frightened on the inside, but great fathers never let their kids know it. They deal with issues in as calm and collected a manner as possible, and keep their negative feelings to themselves knowing that a break in their armor could lead their children to even worse fright. Fathers who act this way are the reason children brag about them to their friends: their fathers’ actions have allowed them to truly think their dad is the most amazing person in the entire world.

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10. They put away childish things.

Becoming a father means losing a part of yourself, while gaining a lot more. It’s no longer acceptable to go out to the bar with your friends until question mark o’clock. It’s no longer an option to spend Saturday afternoon in your underwear watching ESPN. And it’s definitely not okay to blast Sublime in your car on the first day of summer anymore.

But, the best fathers know that there is no point in drinking until you can’t stand up when you could be watching over your child as he sleeps peacefully. They would rather get up and go fishing at six a.m. than stay in bed until ten. They would rather see their kid dance in the backseat to some silly kids’ song than blow out their eardrums listening to SoCal ska. The best fathers know that letting go of a past life can lead to bigger and better things.

11. They put others before themselves.

Okay, I have to use my own father as an example again. Every year for Christmas, he’d always joke that “this year would be the year he got that bass boat.” He easily could have gone out and bought a boat at any given time throughout my childhood, but it would have been at the expense of a family vacation, or a few years’ worth of “just because” presents for his children and wife. That never mattered to him. Being a great father, he constantly put his own interests on the back burner, in favor of his family members’ happiness. (By the way, he finally bought one a few years ago :-D)

12. They provide for their families.

The greatest fathers aren’t the billionaires who can buy whatever their kids want. They’re not the ones who can fly their family to the Bahamas every winter for two weeks. I’m not saying those who can do these things aren’t great fathers—just that these examples aren’t the only great fathers out there.

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The man who works two jobs so his family can eat; the man who works the graveyard shift but manages to pick his kid up from school every day; the man who hates his boss but goes to work with a smile every day so his family has a roof over their head—these are the great fathers. The ones that know that no matter what hardship their going through, they’d rather go through them than see their family suffer.

13. They’re always there when needed.

We talked about dads being a shoulder to cry on, but there’s more to it than that. Great fathers will absolutely drop whatever they’re doing to support their children. He just lay down after a hard day’s work, and his kid needs a ride to soccer practice? No problem. His boss asks if he could stay late on the day of his daughter’s recital? No can do. Even if he knows he won’t be able to get a nap in later, or that his boss will be on his case tomorrow, a great father never disappoints his children, no matter what.

14. They truly want all of it.

The best fathers know there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than everything involved in being a father. No amount of money, possessions, nor any other accomplishment can mean more than raising a son or daughter that you can be proud of. He may have to change who he is, but he welcomes the change with open arms. The best fathers have waited for the day they became a dad since they were young, and have simply been waiting for the right moment.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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