Kiss92 DJ, Jill Lim, gives us her take on six traits that are said to make a good dad (and why she only agrees with one of them)...
While scrolling through Instagram, I came across a parenting account with a post on ‘6 signs of a good dad’. Perhaps it’s subjective, but I was inclined to disagree with a lot of it. Here’s my view on the ‘good dad’ traits, plus what I think should actually be high on the list when it comes to being an awesome dad…
Good dad trait #1: The first to wake up when the baby cries at night
Real talk here – is it even necessary for dads to wake up? Before I gave birth, a couple of my friends told me that they would wake up when their wives did night feeds. Even though they couldn’t do anything, their wives would change the baby and breastfeed, and they would just stay awake as a form of solidarity. Granted, a lovely idea, but is it worth having two zonked-out parents the day after?
Things are different, of course, if the baby is bottle-fed, in which case it would be fantastic if parents were tag teams. Each taking turns to wake up and do night feeds, helping with bottles and such. Although if you’re living in the real world, it’s never going to be 50/50. With my husband and I, if I tell him when I’m going to have a packed day and need his help at night, he steps up. But even then, baby could be going through a leap and excessively fussy; sometimes, they only want mum. Dads shouldn’t be judged too harshly when they sleep through a crying baby. They can always help out in other ways.
Good dad trait #2: Willing to change the baby’s diaper
It was the “willing to” part that got me. While I personally know of a father who proudly proclaims he’s never changed a diaper (unfortunately, I am aware this is a fairly common thing in Asia) – but let’s not set the bar that low with our dads, shall we? This is not a sign of a good dad but a sign of being compassionate and ultimately human.
And what about the dads who are apprehensive? Can they still be a good dad if they swerve nappy changing duties? It helps to know the reasons behind the choice. It may be something as silly as they don’t dare to do it because the baby is still too small. I personally was terrified of bathing Lily when we first brought her home. To be painfully honest, my husband was the one that did all the morning baths for her. Don’t judge me, but there were a couple of days when he was late for work and couldn’t do bath time, and on those occasions, I just wet towel wiped her. Having gone through that experience, dads, I’ve got your back. It’s probably not because you aren’t willing to change babies, but more you aren’t confident. You can do it, fellas!
Good dad trait #3: Can make the little one laugh any time
Don’t get me wrong, being funny is great, but is it a core requirement of being a good dad? What about changing it up and focusing on the ability to engage your child on their level? And I know this can be a hard one. Let’s take ‘girl dads‘ – many fathers of daughters can feel lost at the start and then again around teenhood. What’s natural for the Asian dad to do, is to retreat. Put distance between themselves and their kids and blame it on not being able to connect because she’s a girl. I have a fantastic dad who raised two daughters, could tell you all our friends’ names, our classes, remember what time we were born, and all the different music phases we went through, and. not forgetting the embarrassing crushes we had.
Same with boys, I hear my boss talk about his son sometimes, which makes me happy. My boss is a cool guy who loves vinyl and old-school rock and roll. His son just doesn’t share that passion yet. However, like my dad, he can still name the titles of all the games his son plays and the characters in each game. Indicating that even though he doesn’t share the same interest as his son, he listens, learns, and can engage his son on his level. That, to me, is not a sign of a good dad but a great one.
But back to the humour, maybe this can be bonus points rather than a sign of a good dad?
Good dad traits #4 & #5: Willing to send their kid to their room – affectionate yet firm
These were listed as two different points, but I think they are quite similar and a point that I (shock) wholeheartedly agree with! Very often, when playing the parenting role, you’re also flip-flopping from good cop to bad cop. Something I feel is important to do is to throw the kid off. Is mum a good cop today? Or is it dad? When one parent is seen as the ‘nicer one’, sure, they may get more hugs and kisses and excitement when the kid sees them, but over time they tend to respect the ‘nice one’ less. Suddenly you’ve become the push-over parent, the one whose word doesn’t carry as much weight as the other.
In Asia, parenting typically falls on the mother while the child is young. The father might take a back seat. Come adolescence, suddenly, dad takes on the disciplinary role, much to the child’s confusion. Going from merely being ‘around’ to suddenly telling the kid what they can and can’t do and expecting them to simply obey. That’s why it’s great to have a partner who is willing to be firm when needed and play the bad cop from time to time from the start. Being constantly present in a child’s life through all phases always has a positive payoff for everyone involved.
Good dad trait #6: Always present during dinner
Again, I don’t see this particularly as a sign of you being a good dad. Let’s be kind to ourselves first. I know the popular rule is, ‘no phones at the table’. A parent or not, I’m sure we’ve all encountered this at one point in our lives. Your parents force you to sit down for dinner. No TV, no phone. You are wolfing down your food because the new episode of your favourite TV is going to start, or you just want to get back into your fortress of solitude. No one wants to be forced to do something their heart isn’t in.
Likewise, as adults, when we’re made to attend events or meetings we don’t want to be at, we make pleasantries and find a possible escape and take it. While having proper family time at every meal time would be ideal. Feel the vibe – if you’re not in the right headspace, why force it? If dad has had a tough day at the office, he probably isn’t the nicest person to be around right now. I am big on having dinner together as a family. If that means it takes place in front of the TV in silence, then at least we’re watching something together. If that means mum and dad do the talking while junior is on his phone, then I hope the discussion we are having is interesting and engaging enough for him to put it down and share his opinion on the matter.
So what does make a good dad?
Or mum, for that matter? My vote – empathy and flexibility. I also believe you’re only as good a parent as your partner allows you to be. Being empathic to each other’s emotions and flexible in readjusting expectations goes a long way.
What do you think? DM us and let us know what makes a great dad!
Featured image: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas/Pexels