What Makes A Good Dad?

It’s not about being a masculine dad. It’s not about being the provider. It’s not about the amount of time spent with your kids or even being in the same home. Rich dad, poor dad — the outcomes are the same.

And being a good dad doesn’t necessarily end with divorce.

So I’ve been trained in a whole bunch of different parenting and marriage material. My wife and I have been delivering content to parents for years. I’d like to say 15 plus years.
We even have a charitable trust that works with families and have paid researchers to develop content for us specifically for mums and babies.
And we deliver this content every week through our charitable trust.
So we’ve been in and around parenting and families for many years — and not just in a casual way.
We are heavily invested in and care aboiut the future of families. And it really is a core part of who we as a couple.
Some of you will know we have 6 kids - and we have fostered 37 more. And much of our wisdom and what we teach from has come from that experience - along with the research we have funded and made happen.
But lately I’ve been deep diving into research around fatherhood. I have been looking at the outcomes of research from dozens of researchers from Europe, USA, Australia and NZ - all on fatherhood all looking to answer the question – what makes a good dad. How important are dads and how do dads turn up in ways that matter?
And there are some things that the research confirms that I want to encourage you with today.
And the first thing is that a good dad is not necessarily a masculine dad.
I know alot of men think that to be a good dad they have to be really manly. To raise their boys to be manly.
But the research shows that being a manly dad is actually not a predictor of a dad being a good dad.
When it comes to fathering — being masculine is not how you be a good dad.
And in-fact, the research shows that dads who make raising manly boys more important than their relationship with their boys - have more negative outcomes.
What the research shows is that when the relationship between men and their boys is good – that then the boys were more masculine.
The research shows that the relationship is the most important thing.
The research goes even further and indicates that the sexual orientation of the father — weather he’s gay or straight — or somewhere on the continuim — does not increase the likelyhood that their children will be homosexual.
Infact the great irony in this is that parenting aspects that have traditionally been seen as more feminine — like being warm and intimate — is more likely to raise masculine boys.
So dads, being a good dad is not about being a masculine dad.
Being a good dad is about being close and warm and loving.
And this is great news for dads who aren’t out hunting and fishing with their boys or for dads who feel they should be more manly. Being a more masculine dad has nothing to do with being a good dad.
The other thing it’s not about is being a rich dad. Rich dad or poor dad - the outcomes are still the same. Whilst poverty can place heaps of stress on the home environment – it’s this stress that can actually cause issues in the home. It’s not about being the provider or being rich. Certainly, a job layoff can result in a depressed dad — which does have negative outcomes for kids — being the provider or not being the provider does not determine whether or not you are a good father.
The research is clear on that. It’s not about being the provider — it’s about the relationship. Money does not buy you love or a good family. That is bought with relationship – and the more involved the dad can be the better the outcome.
The really cool thing is that children with highly involved fathers are characterised with increased cognitive competence (which just means they are more intelligent), increased empathy (which means they are just nicer to be around) fewer sex-stereotyped beliefs (which means they are not so chauvinistic) and they have more self-control.
Interesting aye.
So being a good dad is not about being masculine and it’s not about being the provider.
The other thing it’s not about is how much time you spend with your kids. Now of course time spent is a factor — but children who have a secure, supportive, reciprocal and sensitive relationship with their father is more important than the amount of time spent with fathers.
So dads - it’s not about having contact with your kids — it’s about the connection you have with your kids when you’re with them.
It’s not about how much contact you have with your kids — it’s about how much you care about your kids world.
It’s not about how much contact you have with your kids — it’s about how it feels to have contact with you.
It’s not about having time with your kids it’s about how that time is spent. Which brings me onto separated and divorced dads.
What about you guys - is being a divorced dad the end of being a good dad — and the answer is hell no.
The research shows that a divorce is not the end of being a good dad. Because the real issue is not the divorce itself by the pre and post-divorce conflict.
The issue is not the divorce so much as it is the all the pain and conflict around the divorce — and what the researchers all talk about is the important role dads can play in working to maintain a secure relationship with the child and to keep the relationships around the child as warm and nurturing as possible - and if this can be done post-divorce then the outcomes for the child are much much better.
The research shows really poor outcomes for kids of divorced parents — but when dads are involved in ways that matter — the differences between kids of divorced parents compared with kids of non-divorced parents become insignificant.
Now that’s significant.
Here’s something else significant.
The research shows that when dads turn up, the way we turn up affects the feel of the room in an amplified way.
That is that kids react to angry dads in a harsher way then they react to mums who are angry. What the research says is that when dads are angry it has much worse outcomes for kids then when mums are angry.
And the opposite is also true: That kids react powerfully when dads apologise in positive ways and bring conflict to an end. When dads say sorry and really mean it — it actually makes everything better in our kids’ life.
And when dads bring conflict to and end it has more of a positive impact then when mums bring conflict to an end.
Interesting aye.
There is also something researchers talk about which is hard for them to pin down but that how a fathers belief, vision and hope for a better world all have an impact on how dads have an impact.
Simply put dads - we are culture makers — and how we turn up matters.
If a dad is present - how he is present really matters.
I didn’t understand this as a young man - most dads don’t.
And I’m only just now fully comprehending it.
But all any dad needs to know that it’s true. Their presence affects the room.
The single biggest issue for nz families is how our homes feel. It’s not smacking. It’s not divorce. It’s not fatherless homes. It’s not poverty.
It’s how our homes feel.
This issue is not being fixed with parenting courses. It’s not been made better with money.
I believe it will be made better when dads decide to turn up in ways that matter.
Dads - we are culture makers. Every leader is. Both mums and dads are culture makers in different ways.
And if you are a mum who wants to know how to turn up in ways that matter then attend one of our Hapai Whanau courses — I promise you it will challenge and inspire you to lead well as a mum.
But dads this is for you.
When we turn up, it matters – but how we turn up matters more.
Dads, being present matters – but how you are present really matters.
So here’s the thing dads - being a good dad is not about:
Being more masculine
Or being the provider
Or the amount of time you spend with your kids or even being in the same home.
Being a good dad is about working to create a warm and nurturing environment around your children.
Which as you know is not about just being a soft dad.
And it’s not about giving them money.
Or giving them toys.
Or giving them excuses.
It’s about working to create a healthy network of relationships around your child.
Which means connecting with your partner and finding out what’s going on, what’s gone on stepping in in a way that’s positive and helpful and encouraging.
Which means dealing with conflict.
Which means having high standards.
Which means loving those kids unconditionally.
Which means loving their mother - if you still live with her and partnering with her regardless to make sure the relationships around those kids are warm and nurturing.
Listen, Parenting is messy and you can do everything right and still have a divorce or still have kids struggle with anxiety and depression because of been bullied at school, or by the device in their pocket — or some other trauma.
Being a good dad doesn’t free your home from pain.
But what the research shows and dads I want you to get this.
You can do everything wrong but still start to make things right by realising that you are a culture maker — and by changing the way you turn up.
Divorced dads — I want to remind you that there is more damage done by pre- and post-divorce disfunction then divorce itself.
And the good news for some of you is that your divorce is not the end of you being a good dad. For some of you - it might just be the start.
Your job dad is to partner with your partner or ex-partner to maintain positive and beneficial relationships around your kids.
If you focus on that you can change the future for your kids.
So that’s it from me today.
Listen, if you want to engage with this content more then I encourage you to download my free eBook culture maker.
It’s a great little eBook that encourages us men to focus on how we turn up at home.
It’s going to undergoing an update with some of this new research added and the best way to here about that when it’s comlete is to download the current culture maker eBook off my website or just add your email to my email list.
To do both, go to leadingwhereitmatters.com.

Hey well this is the last episode for season 1.
I want to thank you for listening in.
Season 2 will be back January 19 - with a bunch of great interviews with some amazing people.
To keep in touch about the upcoming season go and sign up to my email group.
See you in season 2.

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