Talk to enough dads about what success as a parent means to them and many will start out with specific things they want for their kids and then eventually default to something along the lines of “I just want them to be good people. I want them to be happy and healthy. That’s really it.”
Easier said than done.
What makes a good person? What makes a person happy? Is it the right career or the right relationships or the right balance of work and family and personal time? How do we measure these things?
Yes, we have a few generally accepted traits that we ascribe to “good” people, and we know of several “needs” that can be met that typically lead to happiness, but even if you somehow figure out concrete answers to those two questions, how do you raise another human being to achieve them?
The best we can do is pass along to our children the traits and values we believe make up a good person. The most we can hope for is that we instill in our kids the mentality and the confidence and resources to go after the things that make them happy.
To that end, we whittled down over 300 interviews we’ve done with legendary and iconic fathers from our Life of Dad Show podcast to the 120+ who made a huge impact on us and formed the greatest fatherhood book of all time (and the perfect gift for Father’s Day), The Life of Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood from Today’s Leaders, Icons and Legendary Dads.
The book includes valuable tips, tactics and tricks from Shaq, Mark Hamill, Ice Cube, Jim Gaffigan, Michael Strahan, Mark Cuban and over 100 more.
As we head into Father’s Day, here are a few pieces of dad wisdom that stand out from some of our favorite interviews:
I schedule around my kids as much as possible. I can’t make all their games, but I make most. The difference is, the most important words in my life used to be “you have a deal” or “yes” to a deal. Now my heart melts every time my kids tell me they love me or just call me Dad.
Chef Robert Irvine:
One thing I did with my girls was take them to the supermarket and let them pick out five green vegetables and five other vegetables of their own choosing—then we’d bring them back to the house. I’d let them taste each vegetable raw, then I would cook the product with them and then blindfold them and have them taste each dish, and I’d ask, “What’s in this dish?” For every one they got right, they got 25 cents. It would probably be a dollar these days, but it educates them about different flavors.
Sterling K. Brown:
Enjoy every minute. Especially as a new dad. Try to be as present as possible because day to day, they become brand new. They discover something new. Their first laugh is such a priceless moment. Just hearing what makes your kid giggle will give you so much joy. Enjoy all of it.
Kids now are digital people. They’re not mechanical people. Everything in their world involves a computer, a screen, chips and technology. They’re not “manual shift” or “change your own oil” people. If you try and build something that’s less useful for them, like a hummingbird feeder, I don’t know if they’ll want to do that. So I built them a couple of things that went in their rooms that they slept on. If you want to build a project that ends up in their room (like a bed or desk or loft) or something that they will use, then there might be a little more skin in the game.
I found in my life the simple things have led me to the best things. I don’t think life gets too complicated. I think it is as complicated as you make it. I think my kids feel very appreciative of everything because there is always an alternative of somewhere where you don’t want to go. That is what helps me with my kids. I tell them that it wasn’t always like this [for me].
The Life of Dad book is available for 30% off on Amazon for Father’s Day and is also at Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold. You can follow the authors on Twitter here: @Jon_Finkel and @ArtEddy3
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Jon Finkel is the award-winning author of The Life of Dad, The Athlete, Heart Over Height, “Mean” Joe Greene, The Dadvantage, Forces of Character and other books about icons, fatherhood and fitness. His work has been endorsed by a range of luminaries, from Spike Lee and Tony Dungy to Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban and Chef Robert Irvine. He is the co-host of the Life of Dad Show podcast and Lunch Break Facebook Live Show, an avid speaker, writer and creative strategist for some of the biggest brands in sports and health.