What type of Dad am I?
When I think about this question, my first thought is, I’m an original, acting and reacting to my life and its unique challenges and circumstances. On the other hand, I’m well aware that how I react is often an extension of what I learned growing up in the culture and family I was born into.
What type of Dad are you?
Chances are you have your good days and not so good days. If you ask me what type of dad I am, this can be a complicated question for me to answer.
I can be a kind dad, an impatient dad, and an easily “pushed over” dad when my six-year-old flashes her big, brown, puppy eyes at me, “Dad, can I please have a second treat?”
Sometimes it’s easier for me to know where I am, and how I am doing as a dad, by avoiding the dad types I describe here. Otherwise, if I focus on the mistake, it’s more difficult for me to let go and move on.
None of us can be super-dad, 100% of the time. We need to recognize when we make a mistake. Still, we also need to be like an athlete who, when he or she drops the ball or misses a goal, dusts themselves off, let’s go of the mistake, and tries again.
Life doesn’t wait for us to recover. Life keeps coming for us, regardless if we are ready or not.
The following 10 dad types I’ve either experienced myself or observed in others. Again, the point of this is to not be hard on yourself. We all make mistakes. Instead, I use these dad types like road signs to let me know when I’ve taken, or I’m about to take, a wrong turn and need to find my way again.
Which of these do you see in yourself or other dad and father figures in your life? What different types would you add to the list? When we know what to avoid, it can be easier to find our way.
5 Dad Types to Avoid
The Distracted Dad Type
Our kids know when they don’t have our full attention. And each time we don’t freely give our attention, our kids equate whatever we are doing as being more important than them. Been there, done that, still working on it.
I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to know she’s at the top of my list.
I like to get up early in the morning before everyone is awake to have a couple of hours for “me-time”. A little exercise, meditation, some writing, some art, or another activity I love.
The problem is, sometimes my daughter loves to wake up early too. Sometimes she feels a “disturbance in the force” or hears me stumble around when I get out of bed and follows me to my study. This can be very frustrating for me when I planned to have a couple of hours to myself.
It’s taken me a lot of effort to stop what I’m doing when she comes into the study rubbing her eyes without me having an adverse reaction. Trust me, I’ve gone through many responses to get to my current state of Zen, at least on this issue.
How did I do it? I go through what happened leading up to and after my adverse reaction. I then reason with myself, over and over, that whatever activity I’m doing is not more important than my kid.
Because my reaction has improved, and I’m calmer now, sometimes I can put her down on the couch close to me, and she falls back asleep. Or find an art activity like reading a book, making art, or open my toolbox to give me a few more minutes.
Otherwise, we usually start breakfast early, and she has a long nap later in the afternoon.
The calmer we are in these situations, the more access we have to solutions we otherwise don’t see.
The Pity Me Dad Type
Even though I went into parenting knowing I would be making sacrifices, this doesn’t always mean I don’t play the pity card from time to time.
It’s a bit embarrassing, right?
Do I really need to get in an argument with my kid over who gets the last french fry? Or why I HAVE to watch the same Disney movie . . . again!
Here’s what I’ve learned—burying or denying what I feel does not help me improve. These feelings of disappointment are quite real and don’t disappear just because they can be embarrassing to admit.
How we react to the initial feeling can be improved. If I can buy a few seconds for my rational mind to catch up, I can clearly understand what is happening and let it go. Like the “Distracted Dad Type,” all this happens within a couple of seconds. So, the more time we can wait before responding, usually the better off everyone is.
The That’s Not My Job Dad Type
The roles men and women fulfill at home continue to evolve. And like it or not dads, most cultures are moving towards equality. Some faster than others, but none the less, there’s no denying the direction.
So, here’s the point for the dad who won’t wash the dishes, do the laundry, share the cooking, change a diaper, or provide childcare so your partner can get an afternoon off—get with the times!
Like any of these Dad Types, consider the effect of your example on your children and partner. Sometimes, changes that take place generation to generation are both necessary and, in this case, fair.
The I’m a MAN Dad Type
Similar to the “That’s Not My Job Dad,” the “I’m a Man Dad” did not learn how to express their emotions growing up. “That’s not what men do,” or some other kind of logic determines how they interact with their family.
The consequence of not breaking out of this cycle unfortunately limits their ability to express their emotions, defines how well they can listen to their partner and children’s needs, and isolates them from the rest of the family.
Like most of these types, there are usually skills or examples that weren’t learned or encouraged when growing up. In other words, sometimes not expressing your love isn’t a choice, you just don’t know how. Is that an excuse to not change? Absolutely not.
Similarly, the “I’m a MAN Dad Type” may include objectifying women. Is this how we want our daughters to be seen or what we want to teach our sons? The cycle has to stop somewhere. No matter what mistakes, opinions, or beliefs we grow up with or acted on as adults, we all have it in us to rethink, relearn, and reteach our children a more enlightened approach. This is the difference between us having conscious choices, instead of blindly going along or even contributing to societal biases.
The I Can’t Say I’m Wrong or I’m Sorry Dad Type
For me, admitting I am wrong and having the capacity to apologize go hand in hand.
I like the idea of being a lifelong learner because, OBVIOUSLY, as those who know me would say, I still have a lot to learn!
The day I stop learning will be the day I’m no longer here. How can it be otherwise?
With accepting we don’t know everything comes the capacity to be humble. As Bob Dylan tried to teach us, “The times a changin’,” or the times continue to change, so don’t get stuck.
I’ve been around many men who seemingly were either never introduced or shown, maybe both, how to do this. Don’t be this dad type.
Ask yourself, when’s the last time I admitted to my partner, my teen, or even my child that I was wrong? Nothing improves generation to generation unless we can. If we are stuck in any of these dad types, we can’t free ourselves unless we can admit we are wrong, that we do not know everything, and we apologize for our mistakes.
Whenever I find myself distracted, looking for pity, not doing my fair share, being obnoxious, or refusing to admit I’m wrong, at some point, I have to drop the facade. Every time gentlemen . . . and for me, this isn’t easy.
When I admit a mistake, when I have to say I’m sorry, or own up to some immature behavior on my part, I feel like a failure.
Why is that?
Men are supposed to support and guide the family, right? We are made to know everything, what’s right and wrong, and how to handle every situation. That’s a lot to be born and live up too.
Give. It. Up.
We do our best as individuals and as a family when we consider everyone’s knowledge, talent, and experience in the room. As soon as we block or refuse to listen to what other family members are saying, we become a weaker, more resentful, and less harmonious family.
Many of these problems can be traced to learned behavior. And not just dad’s learned behavior, but also the learned behavior of our partners and those around us who defer to men.
This is why for dads, a quick route to improving yourself and the family dynamics, is to go the extra mile to avoid these stale dad types.
The best dads are those who are humble and see themselves as lifelong learners.
If you have any tips, learned wisdom, or other resources about being a lifelong learner and plotting your own purposeful course of being a dad, please share in the comment section below.