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14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

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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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Matt Duczeminski

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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