The Awesome Dad Cheat Sheet: 18 Fatherhood Tips They Should’ve Handed Out at the Delivery Room

by A Manly Guest Contributor on August 3, 2008 · 89 comments

in Fatherhood, Relationships & Family

Photo by free parking

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, a father of six children.

Being a father can be a wonderful thing, once you get past all the gross stuff, all the stressful events, the loss of privacy, and the bewildering numbers of ways you can screw it up.

But other than those few things, fatherhood is wonderful.

Every dad has fears that he won’t be a great dad, that he’ll mess up, that he’ll be a failure. It comes with the job.

Unfortunately, what doesn’t come with the job is a simple set of instructions. As guys, we often will skip the manual, figuring we can wing it … but when things go wrong, it’s nice to have that manual to go back to. Fatherhood needs that manual.

And while, as the father of six children, you might say that I’m qualified to write such a manual, it’s not true — I’m winging it like everyone else. However, I’ve been a father for more than 15 years, and with six kids I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, what’s important and what you can safely ignore (unlike that odd grating sound coming from your engine).

What follows are the fatherhood tips I wish they’d passed out to me upon the delivery of my first child. It would have helped a ton. I hope they’ll help you become an even more awesome dad than you already are — feel free to refer back to them as a cheat sheet, anytime you need some help.

  1. Cherish your time with them. One thing that will amaze you is how quickly the years will fly. My oldest daughter is 15, which means I have three short years with her before she leaves the nest. That’s not enough time! The time you have with them is short and precious — make the most of it. Spend as much time as you can with them, and make it quality, loving time. Try to be present as much as possible while you’re with them too — don’t let your mind drift away, as they can sense that.
  2. It gets easier. Others may have different experiences, but I’ve always found the first couple of months the most difficult, when the baby is brand new and wants to feed at all hours of the night and you often have sleepless nights and walk around all day like zombies. It gets easier, as they get a regular sleeping pattern. The first couple of years are also a lot more demanding than later years, and as they hit middle school they become almost functioning, independent adults. It gets easier, trust me.
  3. Don’t look at anything as “mom” duties — share responsibilities. While there are a lot of good things from our grandparents’ day that we should bring back, the traditional dad/mom split of parenting duties isn’t one of them. Some men still look at certain duties as “mom” duties, but don’t be one of those dads. Get involved in everything, and share the load with your baby mama. Changing diapers, giving baths, getting them dressed, even feeding them (you can give them breast milk in a bottle).
  4. Love conquers all. This one sounds corny, but it should be at the center of your dad operating philosophy: above all, show your children love. When you’re upset, instead of yelling, show them love. When they are upset, show them love. When they least expect it, show them love. Everything else is just details.
  5. Kids like making decisions. While it is easier to be an authoritarian parent, what you’re teaching your child is to submit to orders no matter what. Instead, teach your child to make decisions, and he’ll grow up much more capable — and happier. Kids like freedom and decisions, just like any other human beings. Your job is to allow them to make decisions, but within the parameters that you set. Give them a choice between two healthy breakfasts, for example, rather than allowing them to eat a bowl of sugar if they choose to.
  6. A little patience goes a long way. As a parent, I know as well as anyone how easy it is to lose your patience and temper. However, allowing yourself to react in anger or frustration is not the best thing for your child, and you must remember that. That means you need to take a deep breath, or a walk, when you start to lose your patience. Practice patience with your child and your relationship, and your child, will benefit over the long run.
  7. Sense of humor required. There will be times when your child does something that might make you blow your lid — writing in crayon all over the walls is a good one, as is dumping some kind of liquid on your couch, or sneaking out and taking your car to meet up with friends. While you need to teach your child not to do these things, it’s better to just laugh at the humor in the situation. I’ve learned to do this more often, and it helps me keep my sanity.
  8. Read to them, often. Whether you’re a reader or not, reading to your children (from the time they’re babies onward) is crucial. It gets them in the habit of reading, and prepares them for a lifetime of learning. It gives you some special time together, and become a tradition your child will cherish. I read with all my children, from my 2-year-old and my 15-year-old, and love every word we read together. See my list of Best All-Time Children’s Books.
  9. Don’t be the absent dad. The biggest mistake that dads make are not being there for their children. Always, always set aside time each day and each week for your children. Don’t let anything violate this sacred time. And at those big moments in your child’s life — a soccer game, a music recital, a science fair — do you very best to be there. It means the world.
  10. Let them play. Kids really develop through playing — and while it might seem obvious, you should allow them as much free play as possible. That’s aside from TV and video games (see below), aside from reading, aside from anything structured or educational. Just let them play, and make things up, and have fun.
  11. Spark their imagination. Free play, mentioned above, is the best way to develop the imagination, but sometimes you can provide a little spark. Play with your kids, creating forts, dressing up as ninjas, role playing, imagining you’re explorers or characters in a movie or book … the possibilities are endless, and you’ll have as much fun as they will.
  12. Limit TV and video games. I’m not saying you have to be Amish or anything, but too much of this type of entertainment keeps them from doing more imaginative playing, from reading, from getting outside to exercise. I recommend an hour a day of “media time”, but you can find the amount that works for you and your family.
  13. Learn the “firm no”. While I’m all for giving kids the freedom to choose, and for free play, and lots of other freedoms, there should be limits. Parents who don’t set boundaries are going to have children with behavior problems, who have problems when they grow up. And if it’s not good to always say “yes”, it’s also not good for the child to say “no” at first … and then cave in when they throw a temper tantrum or beg and plead. Teach them that your “no” is firm, but only say “no” when you really feel that it’s a boundary you need to set.
  14. Model good behavior. It’s one thing to tell you child what she should do, but to say one thing and do another just ruins the message. In fact, the real lesson your child will learn is what you do. Your child is always watching you, to learn appropriate behavior. Excessive drinking or smoking or drug use by parents, for example, will become ingrained in the child’s head. Bad manners, inconsiderate behavior, sloppy habits, anger and a negative attitude, laziness and greed … all these behaviors will rub off on your child. Instead, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn.
  15. Treat their mother with respect, always. Some fathers can be abusive toward their spouse, and that will lead to a cycle of abuse when the child grows up. But beyond physical or verbal abuse, there’s the milder sin against the child’s mother: disrespectful behavior. If you treat your child’s mother with disrespect, your child will not only learn that behavior, but grow up with insecurities and other emotional problems. Treat your child’s mother with respect at all times.
  16. Let them be themselves. Many parents try to mold their child into the person they want their child to be … even if the child’s personality doesn’t fit that mold. Instead, instill good behaviors and values in your child, but give your child freedom to be himself. Children, like all humans, have quirks and different personalities. Let those personalities flourish. Love your child for who he is, not who you want him to be.
  17. Teach them independence. From an early age, teach your children to do things for themselves, gradually letting them be more independent as they grow older. While it may seem difficult and time-consuming to teach your child to do something that you could do much faster yourself, it’s worth it in the long run, for the child’s self-confidence and also in terms of how much you have to do. For example, my kids know how to wash their own dishes, help clean the house, clean their rooms, fold and put away laundry, shower, groom and dress themselves, and much more — saving a lot of time and work for me. Even my 2-year-old knows how to pick things up when she’s told to do so.
  18. Stand together with mom. It’s no good to have one parent say one thing, just to have the other contradict that parent. Instead, you and mom should be working together as a parenting team, and should stand by each other’s decisions. That said, it’s important that you talk out these decisions beforehand, so that you don’t end up having to support a decision you strongly disagree with.

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tyler @ Building Camelot August 4, 2008 at 4:54 am

After just having another girl, I can tell you that these are all fantastic points and should be read everyday by fathers. Great article Leo!

2 cory August 4, 2008 at 6:36 am

Great post. Very balanced.

3 Ben August 4, 2008 at 7:49 am

Excellent post. I agree with Tyler that this should be read by fathers every day. Thank you for posting.
BTW, as much as we share responsibilities, I think that breastfeeding really is a “mom” duty. :-)

4 Nuruddeen Lewis August 4, 2008 at 10:44 am

Great article. I really hope that this post is going to encourage me enough to start being the father I want to be. With all the things going on in my life, I guess I sometimes expect my family to be understanding and to not complain so much of my ‘absent’ behavior. Now, I’ve realized that this is totally wrong. I must cherish each moment with my family and try to make the best of them all. Thanks for the encouragement…you may have just changed my life.

5 Rickey Henderson August 4, 2008 at 11:42 am

When it comes to raising one’s children, Rickey doesn’t have many rules, but one of them must absolutely be keeping ‘em away from that Pokemon garbage. It’s just as harmful to a kid as a pack of Marboros and and eight ball.

Nice article, some well thought out and smart stuff here. Rickey digs.

6 Tommy Galan August 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Very true words.

Tommy Galan
http://thedaddyexperience.blogspot.com/

7 Shanel Yang August 4, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Great post! I also want to add “10 Things I Wish Dad Taught Me” at http://shanelyang.com/2007/11/16/10-things-i-wish-dad-taught-me/ : )

8 glenn horlacher August 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm

“Some men still look at certain duties as “momâ€? duties, but don’t be one of those dads. Get involved in everything, and share the load with your baby mama. Changing diapers, giving baths, getting them dressed, even feeding them (you can give them breast milk in a bottle). ”

I disagree. Mothers are better at this than dads, let them do it.

“Treat their mother with respect, always”

This assumes that they deserve respect. Todays women treat men like dirt (Just look at Everbody Loves Raymond).

Otherwise, good article.

9 Leo August 4, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the comments, guys!

@glenn horlacher: First, not all mothers are better than all dads at these things — that’s a generalization that isn’t true anymore. I’m pretty good at many of these tasks — better than some mothers, I’d wager. And even if they are — that doesn’t mean you can’t try it. It’s pretty satisfying to be able to take care of your kids.

Also, I always assume that people — women or men — deserve respect. If you don’t, then you’re making a fundamental mistake. Treat people as you’d like them to treat you. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

10 Beyers August 4, 2008 at 9:40 pm

What a perfect list.

As a father who has constantly been devoted to being a better parent for the last 11 years, there is nothing I can add to this list, nor anything that I want to remove.

Well done.

11 James August 4, 2008 at 11:00 pm

I have four sons. Each of them has been a handfull. As I write this, I have all of them back in the house. The oldest is 21, the next is 20, and the twins are 18. I am not a man of regrets. Perhaps I was a little too hard on the oldest; perhaps I was a bit too permissive with the youngest two. One thing I do know is that saying “I’m sorry,” is the most powerful statement one can make.

All of us make mistakes. It is the highest virtue to be able to admit them and seek forgiveness. It is an even higher virtue to lovingly grant such forgiveness.

I do not have the keys to the kingdom. I do not have the secret of life. But I do go to sleep at night with profound joy, and I would have four more sons if that were possible.

I have told my boys: fight the good fight; finish the race; keep the faith. I think they get it. And whether I go first or one of them does, I know they will walk hand-in-hand with God. I only pray that I might be able to do so as well.

12 Dot H. | Deeper Issues August 5, 2008 at 5:32 am

Hi Leo, I followed a link from your website here — absolutely awesome article! I think that mothers could learn a lot from this list as well. I can’t think of anything I would add.

Besides the category of “Don’t Be the Absent Dad,” (mine was), I especially like your category of “Model Good Behavior.” One thing I’d like to see parents model more often is apologizing when they’re wrong. Having met several adults who would apparently rather die than apologize, I think having a parent who is willing to say, “I’m sorry, I messed up and I know it was hard for you,” would go a long way to preventing a child growing up unable to apologize.

Again, great article!

13 Matt August 5, 2008 at 5:58 am

My wife and I just had our first last Friday (Aug 1st). What a great experience! In general, I agree with the 18 comments above. The one thing I would add is that each couple is different and each couple’s ideal way of successfully raising their children and managing the overall process will be a bit different as well.

So again, I agree but I would add “to be yourselves” and let your own uniqueness come through in how you raise your children!

Thanks for the advice.

14 Jeff@MySuper-Charged Life August 5, 2008 at 6:08 am

I am a father of two beautiful daughters and I think these are all excellent reminders of what fatherhood is really all about. I especially like your comment about teaching them independence. I think we have to give our kids a chance to make their own decisions when the consequences are less severe. How else are they going to learn to make good choices in adulthood?

15 Israel August 5, 2008 at 7:17 am

This is a good list for anyone that has kids, grandkids, or is a guardian and the main parental figure for a child.

16 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

I’m beginning to wonder if this is a site about Manliness or Political Correctness. I have been fighting Women’s Lib since I was twelve. I saw what it would lead to, even then. What has this wondrous “movement” brought us? Abortion on demand (perhaps every woman getting an abortion should be forced to watch the actual procedure as it unfolds on a TV screen), easy divorce and the subsequent financial rape of men, women taking mens jobs, women in combat (the reason I got out of the Navy after almost 13 years was because they put women on combat ships), women in locker rooms, Title IX. Women used to be nice and smiled often, now they are bitter man-hating shrews. The sexual revolution? Great, now we have 9 year old girls required to get Gardasil shots, 1 in 5 Americans with Herpes (remember the good old days when all you had to worry about was the clap?), HIV, the resurgence of syph, etc.
Leo, if you want to switch genders and be a woman, go ahead, just don’t advise todays poor confused young men to emulate you.

17 Chris August 5, 2008 at 9:53 am

Wow, Glenn – tone it down, buddy. We’re all good here. I think it was just a suggestions saying that, as a father, you don’t have to miss out on some of the really cool parenting opportunities that moms get because some people think they are “women” chores. I have a completely different bond with my daughters than my father has with my sisters – because I spent a lot of time feeding and changing and putting them to bed and picking up their dirty clothes… I get a chance to be with my girls, teach them things, read to them, make up stories with them – all the while teaching and showing them that they are really important to me. I don’t have boys and the good Lord has made it so that we can’t have children any longer. But my girls will, one day, beat my PR at the NYC marathon and crush my PR at Ironman Florida. They will make more money in their first job than I did and, hopefully, get to be a better parent than I am. That has nothing to do with women’s lib – it has everything to do with being a self-sufficient American woman.

You were in the Navy and served our country for my right to raise two beautiful daughters to be contributing members of society – and I thank you, more than you will ever know. I hope one day they will respect that service and our country, by being appreciative, respectful and strong – not a drag on society or to their spouse. If I can teach my girls that by showing them that healthy marriages can mean that mom and dad share responsibilities.

18 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

Chris, are you implying that traditional marriages are not healthy? My mother and father were married for 50 years, are you saying their “relationship” wasn’t healthy? I have 5 children, three grown, two (girls) at home. The older one’s mother didn’t deserve any respect, because she had a hard time keeping her panties on around men. There are things that just belong in the mothers realm. Changing diapers, feeding, dressing, etc.. Are you going to be the one to explain the wonders of your daughters first period(s)?
My mother was not a drag on my father, she was his helper, nor was she a drag on society. Your comments are deeply insulting. And if you really care about veterans, start lobbying your congress critters to honor the American peoples promises to vets and take care of them like we deserve to be taken care of.

19 Chris August 5, 2008 at 10:11 am

Pushed send at the wrong time..

If I can teach my girls that by showing them that healthy marriages can mean that mom and dad share responsibilities, then I will call it a success. After all that, it turns out I am still a man and have, well, manly things I do and I believe I am a good example of a man to my girls. I am not Mr. Manly Man, but I don’t shirk on my responsibilities. I change my own oil – protect my family – help put food on the table – make sure my kids are clothed, shoed, and read to – grow a beard in the winter – like tequila – and always call an all in with tens or better. Not much of a constitution but I do the best with what God has given me and don’t hit the brakes very often.

Women and women’s lib didn’t put us in the situation we are in with all those examples you wrote about. Nor, did Dad’s who feed their kids or do “women” chores.

20 Chris August 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

I am certainly NOT implying that traditional marriages are unhealthy, just traditional. Fact is, I can’t afford to have a traditional marriage where my wife stays home and raises my kids. She has to work. She’s tired when she gets home as am I – so we share parenting duties with our children. That’s not what I would call traditional, but our marriage is healthy and I am sure your parent’s marriage was, too. Different circumstances, different people, different marriage…

Sure, some things are better left to moms and I am not disputing that, like explaining my girls’ first period – but what if the good Lord calls my wife Home tomorrow? What am I to do then? I need to be prepared to handle that conversation – just like I need to be prepared to be cleaning my pistol the first time a boy shows up at my door ready to take my daughter on a date.

I never said anything about your mother and father’s marriage, either. If you implied anything from that, that’s on you. You composed a list of problems in today’s society that you attributed to women and I responded that I can teach my girls to be respectful and responsible for their actions by being an example and contribute – not ride anyone’s coattails.

And, out of left field, how do you know I don’t lobby congress for better treatment of veterans? How do you know that I am not a veteran? How do you know that my father and his four brothers aren’t veterans? That was just out of nowhere…

21 blue August 5, 2008 at 10:40 am

Glenn- I reread Chris’ statement, and I didn’t see anything about marriages in there. He didn’t denigrate marriage, or even his father in any way, he just mentioned his experience was different. Different because he helped out with what needed to be done and didn’t sit around arguing about the “mother’s realm”, or judge people based on their sexual experience, for example.

As a woman getting a grad degree, I have to take issue with your belief that you lost your job because a “woman” took it. That’s a common and absurd line of thinking (that people use with almost any minority group), and a total fallacy. Jobs don’t rightfully belong to anyone simply because of their gender or other superficial characteristic. I didn’t have to take out any male students to get my placement at this University, I promise.

I genuinely appreciate the sacrifice of ANYONE in the Services that has helped to defend our country, male or female. And I definitely agree with you that they deserve our utmost respect and fair treatment.

22 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 10:53 am

If people were really lobbying for veterans, you would hear about it Chris. Instead, people buy a $1.29 magnet that says “We support our troops” and throw it on their tailgate and think that’s good enough. Why do I not see any change in the way the VA treats us? 3 years ago I filed my claim, still no resolution.
Feminism is a scam and a disaster for all concerned. Henry Makow says it best in the following article (check him out at Henrymakow.com)

“by Henry Makow Ph.D.

If a man cannot perform in bed, he is called “impotent.” The woman feels unloved and unwanted.

However, outside the bedroom, if a man doesn’t demonstrate his power , he is considered “enlightened” and “progressive.”

But somewhere in their subconscious, women still feel let down. For centuries, women (and children) have relied on men to help define their lives. Men are failing their families when they buy into egalitarian feminist shibboleths and try to be “nice guys.”

Marriage is the exchange of female power for male power expressed as love. Women crave male power because in their minds, it is love.

When a man fails to lead his family, and allows them to manipulate him, women (and children) feel unloved and consequently have less respect and love for him.

The old proverb, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” applies. Women and children feel most secure when husband/ father asserts his just control. It means he loves them. Failure to take charge is interpreted as neglect.

Thus, a man must claim power at the outset, and never let it slip from his grasp. He will be tested. But if I am right, women are testing his love.

This is how women love and what they really want: to be consulted yes, but to surrender to the one man worthy of their sacrifice.

THE HIDDEN AGENDA

…. brainwashed generations of men and women … think of themselves as equal and identical. (That’s you Chris)

Gender, love and indeed sex are largely about power. Men want to possess a woman. Women want to be possessed. But when you equalize power, you neuter both sexes. Men no longer assert their power; women no longer cultivate their charms. The active-passive; yin-yang mainspring of the universe is neutralized. All that is left is sex in an alcoholic stupor.

A recent study showed that a third of young men and a quarter of young women in Europe use alcohol and drugs to have promiscuous sex, many before the age of 16, resulting in unwanted pregnancies and STD’s.

In the UK, arrests of young women for being drunk and disorderly have shot up %50. The crime rate is up 25% in the last three years alone.

Women are being left high and dry (or drunk) as men bail on the concept of marriage altogether.

Female sex appeal is a function of their fertility. It will quickly fade, and they will finally realize that a sinister power has subverted our culture and betrayed them. They need to form families when they are young and desirable to men or risk being alone for the rest of their lives.

Young men must again think of themselves primarily as family leaders and builders, and look for a good woman to be wife and mother of their children. They must quickly weed out the damaged women, or find one that is still salvageable. They must test her over time to make sure she is devoted and not only willing but happy to accept their leadership. If she has another big priority, move on.

Men, confine yourself to women who look up to you. If you’re looking up to her, the relationship is doomed.

SOCIAL ENGINEERING

By “empowering” women, society is essentially outfitting them with penises. These women have been conditioned to distrust and constantly challenge any man. I have heard stories where husbands and wives fight over the direction they will take on a Sunday afternoon walk.

When my wife and I walk the dog, I decide where we will go. When my wife wants to go in another direction, she will tell me, and usually I will consent to make her happy. She gives me the power; I use it to make her happy, within my limits.

Many men leave their families because they are “married to Mommy” and constantly “walking on eggshells.” In practice “equality” for a feminist usually means she’s in charge and her husband is her puppet who must love her as she thinks fit. “Equality” means at best she will castrate him; at worst, abuse him.

There are many exceptions to this rule I imagine: couples who think alike and have great “equal” marriages. I haven’t met any but I’d like to hear about them.

In a marriage, I believe a woman must chose between power and love. She cannot have both. The role of a wife is to empower her husband so he can love her better as he sees fit. Of course it all depends on a woman finding a man she can trust wholeheartedly.

We must get over the notion that we’ll be loved for our looks or personality or talent. These contribute but ultimately men love women who look after them, and vice-versa.

In our intimate relations, men need to project power plain and simple. First men must gain self confidence by realizing personal goals and earning the respect of their fellow males.

Sexual desire makes men overestimate women. We must take sex and beautiful women off the pedestal.

CONCLUSION

Masculinity is defined by power. Men must assert their personal vision and responsible leadership in spite of constant sabotage by the mass media and government. Otherwise women and children will feel betrayed and unloved, become more unmanageable, and trigger family breakdown.

In reality men and women were designed to complement, love and need each other. Gender wars were created by the same people who created all wars….
—–

23 Tyler @ Building Camelot August 5, 2008 at 11:12 am

@Glen: You’re taking this great article and dragging it through total bullshit. You assume that men out there think of themselves as equals with women. Men and women will never be and should never be the SAME, but that doesn’t men that either man or woman is better than another. Men and women are supposed to be better at different things and that’s what makes it so important in a family and in a relationship.

All those statistics that Mr. Makow throws out are probably due to the fact that those families didn’t have a father at home to serve as a role model. It has nothing to do with the thought that some men are not as strong as others.

And his comment…”Men, confine yourself to women who look up to you. If you’re looking up to her, the relationship is doomed.” is so far off base. Men and women must respect each other in a way that they constantly uplift and support each other through the trials of life. If we don’t respect our wives, then what kind of message does that send to her and to the children in the house.

24 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 11:24 am

Up yours, Tyler. You are just another one of the brainwashed masses. Men were made to lead, women to follow. I NEVER said don’t respect your wife, but if she doesn’t deserve it, don’t until she does, nimrod.
Henry is 100% correct. If the man is not in charge and looked up to, the marriage is doomed. There cannot be two captains of a ship, there can’t be two heads of the family, that is the man’s job.

25 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 11:47 am

Blue, women don’t belong in the military, period. (Unless they have no children when they join, and agree to be sterilized, and confine themselves to support roles, not frontline combat units). They are bad luck on ships, distractions and headaches in ANY unit.

26 Chris August 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Really? That’s your defense?

“Young men must … quickly weed out the damaged women, or find one that is still salvageable.”

Did he just call my wife and daughters “damaged” or “salvageable”?

And he even goes as far as contradicting his ENTIRE article with his last two sentences, “In reality men and women were designed to complement, love and need each other. Gender wars were created by the same people who created all wars….”

I really read this article a time or two and tried to find something that I can agree with but after the above comment, I just can’t. Besides, Makow is a conspiracy theorist. He believes a satanic cult (Freemasons) is trying to enslave all of mankind and this cult is financed through the London bank system. He believes democracy is a sham. How can you quote this man when he doesn’t believe in the very thing you served in the Navy for? Or, did you run across his articles and realize you were fighting for the devil…

I won’t turn this into a debate about Mr. Makow and his beliefs or make this any more personal that it has already turned. You got your chance to spread the Makow article and talk about the poor treatment of veterans by the government. Rock on…

27 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I swore an oath to and served the Constitution, Chris, not democracy. Pure democracy is mob rule…from the1928 US Army manual:
TRAINING MANUAL WAR DEPARTMENT, No. 2000-25 WASHINGTON, November 30, 1928.

CITIZENSHIP

Prepared under direction of the

Chief of Staff

This manual superseded Manual of Citizenship Training

The use of this publication “The Constitution of the United States,� By Harry Atwood is by permission and courtesy of the
author.
The source of other references is shown in the bibliography.

(No. 2 fac simile)

TM 2000-25 118-120 CITIZENSHIP

Democracy:

A government of the masses.

Authority derived through mass meeting of any other form of “direct� expression.

Results in mobocracy.

Attitude toward property is communistic-negating property rights.

Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate. Whether it be based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences.

Results in demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.

(No. 3 fac simile)

TM 2000-25 120-121

CITIZENSHIP

Republic:

Authority is derived through the election by the people of public officials best fitted to represent them.

Attitude toward property is respect for laws and individual rights, and a sensible economic procedure.

Attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences.

A greater number of citizens and extent of territory may be brought within its compass.

Avoids the dangerous extreme of either tyranny of mobocracy.

Results in statesmanship, liberty, reason, justice, contentment, and progress.

Is the “standard form� of government throughout the world.

A republic is a form of government under a constitution which provides for the election of (1) and executive and (2) a legislative body, who working together in a representative capacity, have all the power of appointment, all power of legislation, all power to raise revenue and appropriate expenditures, and are required to create (3) a judiciary to pass upon the justice and legality of their governmental acts and to recognize (4) certain inherent individual rights.

Take away any one or more of those four elements and you are drifting into autocracy. Add one or more to those four elements and you are drifting into democracy. – Atwood.

So what is Mr. Makow believes the things you mentioned? He has a Phd and I assume he has researched it, which is more than I can say for you. You’re throwing out the baby with the bath water.

The government treating vet’s poorly? Nope, it’s YOU and the rest of America who simply does not care, despite all the platutudes you and your ilk mouth off about all the time. Billions of dollars could be diverted from unnecessary nonsense and foreign aid to help disabled vets like me out, but the american people simply do not care enough to make it happen, period. If that’s the case, we should not maintain a military at all.

28 Tyler @ Building Camelot August 5, 2008 at 1:04 pm

@ Glen: Thanks for adding absolutely nothing to this article. I’m sorry that Leo took his time and offered up a great piece for Brett and it has come to this.

29 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Blow me Tyler

30 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm

And Tyler, way to kiss ass on the owners of the site.

31 cory huff August 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Um…I don’t really get into internet arguments much, but this is absolutely…stupid. Does anyone actually take this guy seriously?

All the real men out there who love their wives, their children, and think it’s a good thing to treat women with respect, raise their hands.

*raises hand*

32 Eric August 5, 2008 at 1:51 pm

@glenn,

You claim to be a “strong” man, but clearly you’ve got quite a bit of bitterness towards women, and in that way, they control you anyway. Bet that gets under your skin, huh? Go ahead, deny it. Or call me some names.

You’re not converting anyone here to your twisted worldview so take it elsewhere, please.

@Leo,

Great article.

33 Mark August 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

*raised hand* Damn right cory!

34 Timo August 5, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Dads should also be the ones to discipline the children. It’s the man thing to do (of course, not to the point of physical abuse).

35 QJ August 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Glenn, your rock is calling. It wants you to crawl back under it and stay there.

36 SB August 5, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Nice thoughts, Chris. I believe that when both men and women have full, unfettered access to the whole spectrum of human experience, we will be able to make real progress. Men need their tender, nurturing side as much as women need to be able to be strong.

I am so proud that my five nephews are all fully capable of taking care of their children as my three nieces are. My mom constantly marvels “Jim took the baby out shopping by himself!” and “Cam changed diapers while everyone was over here for the BBQ!” I sense she is a bit jealous because she never had that help from my dad with me and my four sibs.

37 glenn horlacher August 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm

SB, does your nephew wear one of those fake breast harnesses so he can breast feed the little tyke? Does he squat to pee?

38 Leo August 5, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Interesting. I won’t really get into a rebuttal here, but obviously glenn horlacher and I don’t agree.

I would just like to reiterate my point to respect the mother of your children at all times. The reason doesn’t have to do with how much she deserves said respect (more on that in a couple paragraphs) but more with how you’re raising you’re children, by example. If you treat their mother disrespectfully, your children will learn from that. They won’t understand any of the issues you’re talking about … all they’ll learn is what you’re doing. And your son(s) will grow up to treat women disrespectfully, and frankly will have many problems as an adult, in maintaining relationships. Your daughter(s) will fare even worse: they’ll begin to think that it’s OK for a man to treat them with disrespect, and will have relationships with men who treat them this way. Regardless of whether your daughters deserve respect or not … they will think they don’t, because of your actions.

The solution to these potential problems is simple: treat all people, including their mother, with respect. It’s a life lesson that will carry on for them forever.

And as to the issue of whether the mother deserves respect … treat people with respect, and in general they will treat you the same way. If your wife treats you badly, and you respond by treating her badly, you are just as much a part of the problem as she is. End this senseless cycle of disrespect by being the better person, and rising above arguments and disputes. Treat her with respect, unfailingly. Eventually she will do the same … or she’s not worth being in a relationship with … in which case, staying in the relationship and treating her badly is a mistake and not good for anyone. End the relationship (if you can’t get it to improve) but still treat her with respect as you do so.

39 Lynz August 6, 2008 at 12:10 am

I just wanted to say thank you for the neat article. I am a mother of 6 ages 7 down to 1 month old.
I think that fathers should be just as involved as you say. I am totally a girly girl submisive wife type. But when we decided to have 6 kids I knew I could not do it alone.
I am proud of the fact that my husband is an equal in the knowledge of how our home and children carry on.
For instance this last weekend I went away for the day on a church womens hike. People were “shocked” I left my kids.. all 6 even the baby at home with him.
I didn’t even bat an eyelash at this, yet others couldn’t fathom that he was more than able to handle it.
On the other hand no one questions my daily handling of all 6 of them alone.
I think its a sad day that people are shocked at the fact that a father can handle his kids (Gasp) all by himself. Or that this in some way makes him less manly.
Again thanks for the article, its a nice reminder and a helpful list for the moms too!

40 micahWilli August 6, 2008 at 11:01 am

How about stop referring to parenting as “babysitting” . I know this is a lot like #3, but it’s a pet-peeve of mine. I used to be sly about commenting to guys when they say this crap. Something like:
Dumbdad: “Well, i can’t go out tonight cause I’m babysitting my kids”
Me: ” No sweat, We’ll catch up later. Remember the going rate for sitting is $3.50 per kid per hour”

Somewhere around the birth of our fourth, i just began to call them on the carpet:
Dumbdad: “Well, i can’t go out tonight cause I’m babysitting my kids”
Me: “Dude, babysitting is what 13 year old girls do for their neighbors. What you’re doing tonight is callled ‘Being a Father’ Don’t call it that.

Just my unsolicited opinion…

41 Rune August 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I must say one thing: Glenn has no clue, I feel sorry for the people he is close to (or should I say: the people he controls).
I would really like to talk to the people under his “control” and get their view – WITHOUT Glenn in the room or anywhere near…

nuff said.

Sorry for any spelling errors or grammar errors. I am Norwegian.

42 mbryo August 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Amen. These points are exactly what parents should establish as a guideline for raising their children. I can’t speak from a parental point of view (yet), however I work with children. I’m a summer camp counselor and I watch over/interact with over 80 kids between the ages of 4 – 14, and I’ve realized that these points are exactly how children should be treated. Another point that could be added is to make sure that as a parent, you are established as the parent/authority figure with the relationship with your child, be a parent first and a friend later. A child will still love you even after you tell them no.

43 blue August 6, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Glenn- Women are BAD LUCK?? LOL. Buddy, if you can offer up no better argument than that, I have another idea as to why your job was given to another candidate. Since apparently you’re a brighter crayon than me, you having a wang and all, I’m sure you’ll figure out why that is without me even telling you.

I didn’t say this the first time, but great article, Leo! Love your site, too.

44 Mama Sue August 7, 2008 at 12:54 pm

One other tip> When you are wrong admit it and apologize. When I was a kid I was punished for tking off with some friends and not letting my parents. After my Dad was done punishing me, I told him that I left a note on the front door for them. He checked and found the note and then admitted his mistake and apologized for the punishment. That one little thing has stayed with me my whole life.

45 Charlie August 8, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Very, very good piece, good list.

46 LindaG August 12, 2008 at 12:45 am

I’ve always liked this site and the ideas raised here, but this was an especially interesting thread of comments. I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if my father had stayed involved in my life after the split with my mother when I was four. On the one hand I wish – and you have no idea how strongly – that I had had a father like Leo but, on the other hand, am supremely happy that I did not have one like Glen. Leo, your girls are the luckiest – Glen, at first your words started to make me angry, but that quickly turned to pity. I am sorry for anyone whose life is so filled with hatred that it colors every waking moment. In my 21 years in the military I had to deal with the “glens” on a daily basis, they are not going to go away and they will never change their viewpoint – you can’t change the “glens” all you can do is make sure your sons turn out differently.
My husband was raised to believe that there’s no such thing as gender based work – just work that true partners share. And before you get started, Glen, you should know that he also served for over twenty years (sorry you could only hack 13) and has a 30% disability from Desert Storm. As the total opposite of my father, he is the most honest man I have ever known and has always taken complete personal responsibility for his actions. He has been every bit as good at parenting – he just does it differently. Pay attention guys – you don’t have to parent the same way your wife does – you’re a different person and will always do things differently. Your children, like ours, will not care about the differences, they will only care that you stuck around and stayed involved. The fact that my husband can stand next to me (one of those scary liberal feminists) as a partner and still be the manliest man I have ever known only points to the differences between him and the “men” who can’t. A real man is manly because of the way he cares for those around him and his personal integrity – manliness has absolutely nothing to do with dominance over women and children. Trying to grab and maintain that kind of dominance only shows the opposite of true manliness. I’m very, very glad that my husband is a man and that after 23 years he is still the sexiest guy I know but my respect for him has nothing to do with his gender and everything to do with his character.

47 Petra August 13, 2008 at 5:23 am

Hi to all
I read this wonderful post and thought the suggestions were great. Too bad one person in the comments section really has a hate on for women. I am a divorced mom of 4 children and I would have LOVED my husband to have followed even one of these suggestions. Believe me it was not for trying to encourage him (do not read nagging!). I definitely believe that if both parents are going to work, then both parents will have to help with parenting. I also liked the comment about “babysitting” too. Fathers don’t babysit their children – they are being fathers!

It’s my feeling that the women’s movement while helping women by opening more professions and improving workplace laws etc has also done some harm to women (and men). It’s harder for women to stay home and be moms if that is their choice for one thing. I’m also not a supporter of the “right” to abortion either.

BTW, before my marriage I worked as a geologist (a very male-dominated profession) and most men treated me with respect, because I treated them with respect. There were the few nasty, crude men. I simply ignored them!

48 The Hoosier August 13, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Comments from a Father / Grandfather…..

Great article, good advice, and sound reasoning.

Glenn, your desire for attention from strangers should be a great cause for concern to your therapist. I cannot help but add to the chorus of abuse heaped upon you from the well-balanced among the readers. Savor the flavor of invited criticism. Enjoy your lifetime of loneliness.

Kudos to those listening and applying these suggestions.

Good Dads and Moms rule.

49 vee August 14, 2008 at 2:05 am

5. & 17. sounds like the way to get a rebellious teenager by the age of 7. Other than that, sound advice.

50 The Dadd August 18, 2008 at 7:30 pm

One day I figured out how to raise my son. I just do everything exactly opposite the way my father and grandfather did. I kinda feel sorry for all thay missed out on. The relationship I have with my grandchildren is indescribable.

Thanks for the article, I have informed my son, nephew, and a couple cousins about your site.

51 Jeff August 26, 2008 at 7:32 am

Great article. Not really anything groundbreaking, but it’s good to be reminded of the basics from time to time.

The only thing I would add to the list would be;

19. It’s okay to goof up, just don’t make a habit of it.

52 Wylde Brumby August 29, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for the great article. It gives a foundation to build happy relationships with your offspring.

@Glen,
You might benefit from reading “God Wants You Dead”, It is a provocative title to a book that has many interesting ideas about memes – discreet ideas. When you jumble ideas together and don’t examine them critically, you become the biggest loser – your solidified thinking prevents communication with people that have a different point of view.

Holding on to an idea unquestioningly is a situation that I call being infected by a mind virus – a situation that is harder to fix than a common cold. A symptom of this is insulting others for their perceived lack of intelligence, etc.

I have read articles by Henry Makow and agree that he does have some valid points. However, I use them as a starting point for my own analysis.

Trying to convince others that your point of view is correct is a waste a time. Part of this waste is your energy and “brain cycles” (opportunities to think constructively on how to improve your well-being).

Remember: arguing with an idiot only leaves two idiots – no improved outcome can be achieved.

53 Lau September 1, 2008 at 10:17 am

Glenn can’t get any respect for who he is as a person, so he’s demanding respect because he has a dick. It’s brilliant.

54 Tim Barnett September 3, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Great entry, Leo. Love your blog and the Art of Manliness as well. Keep up the great work, guys.

55 John September 11, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Woa! I thought this was a pretty neat article until I started reading the comments.

56 Denny September 11, 2008 at 10:36 pm

@glen, I just have a question for you, if you swore an oath to a 1928 Army manual while joining the navy, I think you went into the wrong door at the recruiters office… I am sure you didn’t join the navy in 1928, that would make you somewhere around 98 yrs old. Women have only fairly recently been given positions in the front lines, which the Navy hasn’t fired a shot in anger from any “war ship” since the first gulf war. Women were first allowed to be pilots in 1992 then allowed on ships in 1993 but the USS Eisenhower received the first combat ready women in 1994. But yet the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991, so you have never actually been in a combat role with a female as a comrade in arms.

From personal experience in a combat role with women, I can tell you that there is no reason for any doubt as to whether a woman can do her job as she is trained to do it, as well as, and in some instances better than men.

On another note 13yrs does not add up, an enlistment is either 4 or 6 years, just recently it has been offered to take a shorter enlistment in the Army. WHich means you were either kicked out or got injured, but if you did get injured then your VA would have been put on the fast track due to the loss of your ability to keep your career.

On a more personal note, my wife is a peace officer, and I support her in that pursuit, she has the constant harrassment of people like you but she is able to rise above it. I applaud her and am happy when she gets promoted over some ignorant, sexist guy.

In my opinion there is no place in this world for this behaviour, you are a detriment to the human race. However I do see that I can be farely certain that, since you hate women so much, you will have a difficult time adding those ideas the gene pool.

@Leo
Great Article, sorry i had to add that, sometimes people using the military thing irks me off, especially when they are slanderizing the exact beliefs I fight for.

57 chris Wallace September 12, 2008 at 11:42 am

Glen,
Good God man!
Just go away.
Great list and thanks for it.
Remember the nice list, Glenny?
Jerk.

58 Aaron February 25, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I really think this article isn’t just good for men, but for some women.

My father was in his 40′s when he and my mom had me. I’m now turning 20 this year, and I try to behave well, and I am looking forward to the time I have a child of my own, and I hope that kid turns out well. I became the well-rounded man I am today because my father was there when my mother couldn’t be.

As for that guy, Glenn… I’m very sorry you’re stuck with an old, hateful mentality. Traditional marriages are fine, I think. If a woman likes to stay home, I have no qualms with that decision, but she should be respected just as well. After all, if we all chose to disrespect women, how can we feel we’re fit to carry on the human race? To disrespect all women is to disrespect your wife, your children, and your future. That’s simply foolish.

Also, women are quite capable of armed war-time combat. It doesn’t require the same strength as melee combat for the most part, and women should never be underestimated in that or anything else. Women are quite capable of being just as strong, if not stronger than men (they deal with the pain of child birth, which I could never imagine living through). I still think they should be respected, protected, and loved.

59 Big Robby March 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

I thought this was a phenomenal article, and something all men should read prior to being a father. Good stuff.

60 Jason P. Franklin July 31, 2009 at 11:15 am

This is a good list. Others have added their own supplemental suggestions, so I thought I’d as well. The following list comes from Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill in Seattle, out of their Peasant Princess series:

Six things Daddies can do to help raise their daughters to be like the woman in the Song of Songs

1) Pay attention – don’t ignore her. Initiate conversation and hugs
2) Spend time alone with them – take your daughter on daddy dates.
3) Pray for your daughter
4) Pray with your daughter (there is a distinction between 4 & 5)
5) Teach her the Bible (read it, teach it, talk about it… Deut 6:4-9)
6) Compliment your daughter.

61 Lucas August 15, 2009 at 2:18 am

Can I say thank you for this wonderful article. Although not a father hopefully I will be in the future and somehow think this will be extremely beneficial.

Could any “super dad” out there tell me if the are the sole breadwinner out there and have to work long hours what do they do so that they are still full of energy when they come home to the kids? My own father was often too tired to engage me and I can see that may be something that if I am not wary I may fall into the trap of.

PS Can I just say I am a huge fan of the AOM blog, and really the people getting into arguments on this site…please grow up. I know we all want our say but I like the positive attitude that usually comes from this site.

62 Adrian May 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Outstanding post! Two things out of this piece that really hit me the most:

1.Cherish your time with them:

My daughter (who will be two years old in a couple of months) was born premature. Thankfully, without me or my wife mentioning it, no one can really tell. I was looking at all the photos and videos we have of her, and I’ve realized that I have kind of taking the struggles that both my wife my daughter and me had went through. I’m glad I’ve realized this early. I’m not going to take her for granted ever again.

9.Don’t be the absent dad:

This hit me the most. Felt a bit ashamed after I read it (and even more after I read it a second and third time). I mean, her bond with her mother and grandparents is what I want for her and me to have. We have a good relationship, my daughter and I, but it’s obvious her bond is stronger with her mother and grandparents, and it’s entirely my fault.

I was in the military and one of my Chief said to me, upon hearing the news that I was about to have a little girl, was that I should “Set the standards for my child”. Reading this post cemented that piece of advice I got from him even further.

Thanks for this article. It was indeed an eye opener and I’m making it a goal to build an even stronger bond with my daughter, no matter the cost.

Heh, didn’t mean for this to go on so long, but it did anyway.

63 Stan Berhorst August 4, 2010 at 9:23 am

Great article. I will probably refer back to it from time to time for a refresher to my memory as it is not what it used to be.

Wonder how the whole “He man woman haters club” attitude is working out for Glen? Keep watching Glen Spanky and Alfalfa grow up and become “Real Men”.

Sorry couldn’t help myself.

64 Boss October 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

this list reminds me my father, he is the best father in the world

65 Ed January 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

It looks like this is the same Glenn Horlacher that got arrested at Disney. He’s also been an ass on military related forums. He seems like a great example of what not to do. That loon’s post (#22) ended up in my Instapaper feed instead of the original article (because it was longer, I guess.). So I came here to see what the problem was and fix it.

Thanks for the article, Mr Babauta. My daughter is 2 and while I’ve certainly done some of these things, I have many more I need to work on.

66 Evan Williams January 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

im a little late in the game but I read what glen said about not respecting the mommy of your child unless she “deserves” it…… what are you doing marrying a women you don’t respect? and even if you aren’t married you shouldn’t be having sex with a woman you don’t respect…. or maybe thats just me….

67 Sally McKay March 20, 2013 at 12:58 am

I just love this article. The honesty and fantastic tips. We support Dads to be with our online childbirth classes. I will be sharing this article on facebook and twitter

68 Alvaro April 25, 2013 at 2:01 am

Great post .. I’m having a second child on the way and as a young dad I am still learning from my little one . I am trying my best to be the greatest dad ever .I believe by reading this has open up my eyes a little more thank u… Really interested in reading more .

69 Simon June 13, 2013 at 7:12 am

“show them love. Everything else is just details”

This is wonderful. I have three boys, ages 4, 2 and 6 months, and some days (and nights), it’s so hard & fatiguing.

When I read #4, it unlocked something in me that I’d temporarily forgotten. Missing the forest because of all the trees…

Thank you.

70 Patti August 5, 2013 at 11:37 am

All good points but I have to say this…he states that he “has been a father for 15 years.” I say wait to write the article until you’ve been a father for at least 25 years because the real parenting and the hard stuff are just now starting to unfold, you’ll see!

71 Setsu August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

A fascinating exchange.

Adrian – I am much closer with my dad now that I’m an adult (I’m a woman and nearly thirty, and the last time I went home to visit we talked about sociopolitical development until 4am).

It’s never too late to develop a relationship with your family members. Respect and patience go a long way.

72 Kris August 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

19: You’re most important shift begins, the moment you walk in the front door of your home.

73 Pocono Chuck August 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm

As a father of 2 boys (currently 17 and 10) I disagree with #2.

While many of the challenges for my younger son were repeats from his older brother, there are constantly new challenges.

It never gets ‘easier’.

74 Brian August 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm

First of all, BRAVO! Though I am sad to see some disagreements in the comments, I think this article hits all the important parts of being a good dad, many of them I have been saying for years. I have only one difference in opinion and that would be about the firm no. If my son comes up with a good and convincing argument then I will give in, and I feel that this is a good way to teach him how to debate and bargain for something he wants. Even though I know what he is doing, if he can surprise me with his cleverness then I will reward it. I haven’t had issue this way because when I use ‘the tone’ with the no, then he knows not to push it. And secondly I have one thing to add. Respect your child. Remember that they are worthy of respect, they are not ignorant- only inexperienced, and listening to them and validating their thoughts and concerns and ideas will give them self-worth. And that is Never a bad thing.

75 Vince Milburn August 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

The biggest thing I have learned is in the area of discipline. Children are spontaneous. They are trouble one moment and angels the next. As adults, our moods tend to linger. No matter how happy you are, be prepared to get stern at a moment’s notice. On the other hand, be ready to immediately drop it once the situation is over. Once a child has been sternly rebuked, apologized, or punished for the situation, it’s over. If you let your anger linger, they will get confused and you’ll just be angry all the time because there is not enough time between kids doing dumb stuff.

76 Amir August 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Great Article Leo!
I’m not a father but this will be bookmarked to refer to when the time comes.
It’s unfortunate that a someone tried to derail the comments thread with bile and outdated rhetoric. You know someone doesn’t have a real argument when they have to resort to name calling. I know there is an AoM article on conversations etiquette. The same guidelines apply to internet conversations. Remember folks, real men don’t troll on the Internet.

77 Sean August 6, 2013 at 4:21 am

TO ABSENT FATHERS:
I am a father of 5, my ex-wife and I separated in 2008 when my youngest were just three and the eldest was 10.
Before separating I applied almost all of Leo’s suggestions and enjoyed being a father and, hopefully, a good example.
Being an absent dad has been especially hard for me, I worked hard to be the best dad I could be. They now live 300 miles away making visiting difficult, but they spend 4 weeks a year with me.
But the times we do have together are always special and I speak to them daily. I’m there for advice, a laugh or just to listen. Thanks to Skype/facetime I was able to see their new bedrooms, meet their new dog, see their latest artwork and share in many day-to-day things. Remembering small things that are important to them is paramount, birthdays, first day at school, sports days, plays, losing a tooth, etc, you can’t be there, but at least you can call on the day and share in their experience.
Being absent is hard, especially when you disagree with how they are being brought up and powerless to change it.
But you can still make the best of it.
They will remember the time I took to still be a part of their lives as much as I could be, no-one can take that from us.
They are only children once, make the time to make each of them feel significant and important, even if there are five of them!
Now they are 9, 11, 13 and 15 they are growing up and seeing the world through their own eyes. They appreciate my position and my approach, I may let them down sometimes, but they know where I am if they need me.
Above all, the best advice I can give to anyone is “Be the dad you would have liked to have had.”
I have applied this one rule and have respect, admiration and love from my kids, despite our distance.

78 degorius August 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

My son is just about 2 so I havent been a parent all that long, and maybe after more time has past the whole it gets easier thing will ring more true. But that being said I feel #2 is almost like a trick, everyone said its going to be hard at first so i was prepared for a rough time, but for me it was pretty easy. Pop him in a swing or jumper and i could cook and clean, I could read whatever I wanted, just did aloud now, he napped frequently so I got time for myself, I kinda felt like this aint so hard. Now hes mobile, talking, and naps less, NOW its getting hard.
I feel to a certain extent I was lured into a false sense of confidence and ease. So in my experience its more like it gets harder, then (Im hoping at least) gets easier. But I think I might have been lucky and had a pretty easy newborn/infant also.

79 John September 1, 2013 at 6:15 am

The article had some great points.
I help my wife as much as I need too. We have 6 children and the oldest is 10.

One thing that I feel we need to mention is Ephesians 5. I agree that the Father needs to be the head of the home and the wife is the heart. But being the head is not promoted in our society . If you turn on television the reality and sitcom shows make the man to look like a idiot. The feminist movement is real and it is deadly to the family.
I know this wasn’t discussed in the article but I came across Glenn’s post.
Which was a poor description of traditional family life. I did agree that you can not have two heads.
Just some thoughts….Just read Ephesians 5 and it describes what God designed as the blueprint for the marriage setup..God Bless!!

80 Cat September 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Anyone out there live 3000 miles away from their teenager? Tell me how you can be a father from that distance if you don’t have a private jet and gobs of money to visit often. My son’s dad is that far away. After doing many of those things listed for 14 years of our son’s life, his dad because of divorce has relocated permanently. He’s been gone for more than three years, most of the high school years. You don’t stop magically needing your Dad are age 18. How do you parent an older boy? Is there a list for that? My son suffers, I’m in no way able to replace a father. A young man needs his father around and present and available. Dad’s aren’t disposable. I want Dad around, I want them to be together. I saw one thing that said that the term “long-distance parenting” is an oxymoron because you cannot parent properly from a long distance , and it should only be a short term thing, never a life choice. My former husband was a devoted father, spent so much time with our son it was almost unhealthy, the bond is deep, and yet Dad is gone. Wonder how other men do it from that distance with success? I doubt its possible. Dad keeps saying “He’s fine” “we”ll work it out later” “Maybe someday he will live here” “I trust God’s plan” “It is what it is”. I don’t know if my son will uproot his life and church and family to go to his Dad, there is no other family there. Everyone else important to my son is here in this area, Dad is solo as far as family on his coast but lives with his girlfriend and her young adult daughter. How can my son ever get what he needs if Dad is not here, and barely visits (last years 4 times, only once with son & Dad alone). Neither Dad or son like the phone, son doesn’t return texts, hardly ever Skype (less than 6 times in 3+ years), no letters, or packages, and a few visits a year. Its so hard to watch my boy need his dad and come up empty handed. I know I had a part in this as making your marriage work is pretty important to Dad being around. I am responsible for this outcome too, and I still think it could have been much better without the distance, wholly better. Ugh. I just watch my son get more and more bitter and angry and detached from everyone. He feels rejected, he was left, I can’t fix this.

81 Victoria November 7, 2013 at 10:46 am

I would like to say thanks for this piece. I found it via a piece on corn cob pipes (Christmas is just ahead, and I’m making gifts).
As a Mom, I like the tone of the piece, as well as the words of advice to fathers. Sometimes, I forget that my husband is learning with me (expect him to be superman, w/ all the answers). Seeing this, I am brought back to reality.

@Glenn, it isn’t the other people around you that I feel sorry for. They are capable of going elsewhere for what you are lacking. It is you that I grieve for. If the anger and bitterness you exhibit online is as evident in your day to day relationships, I am saddened by the fact that you just may look around some day and find no one else around. I will pray for you, because no one deserves to be alone like that. We all need other people. If everyone needs people, does it not make sense that someone would need you, Glenn? We all need to be needed, in some way. So, you’ll be on my prayer list for quite a while.

As for respecting someone, and women deserving respect or not… Respectable people show others respect, even when those others do not respect anyone else/self. So, if you are one that should be respected, it it important that you respect others no matter how they feel about you or themselves.

82 Thomas hyatt November 30, 2013 at 4:42 am

Thanks for the comments and advice. I have a wonderful 14 year old daughter and she is terrific. I am the luckiest Dad that I know. All I can say to all that read this is that every effort you make, makes a difference. They appreciate it all and will never forget it. Keep up the incredible work. :)

83 kacy January 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Question. My husband is a good husband but a bad father. He never helps me out with our son and when I tell him I need a break he looks confused and asks why. Its my responsibility to do everything with him. And when I try to give him parenting books or to take a parenting class he gets offended. How can I turn him into a good father? Our son is now 11 months old and my husband gets mad at our son when he’d rather b with me. Our sons first word was mommy too which also makes my husband see red. When I try to tell him why he dont want to hear it.

84 Angie January 14, 2014 at 3:49 am

That article reminds me of a book which was written by a father who had to deal with all the good and bad things as soon as his daughter was born. He started reading books and searching about parenting in order to find all the adequate answers. He was shocked when he realized how many mistakes a parent can make, drifting from stereotypes and predetermined structures.
The book is “Unleash the Secret of Education and learn how to raise a happy child” (amazon kindle) and can be really useful for a father.

85 Brandon Judd March 8, 2014 at 6:11 am

Some great points. I am so glad the number 1 was first on the list. I think that is we realized how precious this time as a father is, we would work harder to make the most of every moment of it. http://totalepicness.com/177/

86 hobbit March 14, 2014 at 4:17 am

forgive the tongue in cheek here, because what I am about to offer, with irony, is also something worth passing along to our children.

Learn how to identify angry people who are only about spreading their pain and do not desire a constructive outcome. Learn that it is ok to walk away from them and delete their contributions on your websites.

There is an identifiable difference between controversy, differences in opinion, and blatant trolling designed to create upset and spread grief and pain.

This is a worthy lesson for all of us.

Thank you so much for the sweet, firm wisdom of the tips for being a great dad. You seem like a strong, gentle man who is able to embrace his own power without being a bully, can set boundaries without the need to control others and can speak his love without fear of being less manly for that.

Congratulations.

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