Fatherhood: 100 Ways to Be a Better Father

100 ways to be a better father

Fatherhood is a tricky proposition. We all want to be great dads, but chances are, our fathers never sat down with us and taught us how to be a better father.

And we don’t necessarily want to be our fathers. I mean, we want to emulate their positive influence on us, but we also want to do it our own way. And because children tend to spend more of their time with their mother, not being the greatest dad ever isn’t as obvious. No matter who we are, though, we can always improve our relationship with our kids and our spouse, and we can redefine the meaning of fatherhood each and every day.

There’s not as big of a movement toward how to be a better father as there is toward better mothering. No big fancy fatherhood magazines, no Oprah for dads, no real exchange of fatherhood improvement programs. There’s just Natural Papa. (I’m kidding. There’s a bunch of great dad blogs out there.)

I’m a crappy dad sometimes, yet I hope that I’m always learning how to be a better father, so I felt moved to put some of my thoughts on fatherhood down in words to share with you.

I read a post called ‘Tackle Any Issue With a List of 100’, by Luciano Passuello, a couple of weeks ago, and then later I came across ‘100 Ways To Live A Better Life, by Dragos, which was inspired by ‘100 Ways to Be a Better Leader’, by Mike King, which was inspired by ‘100 Ways To Show Boldness’, by Armen, which was originally inspired by…  You guessed it, Luciano’s post about lists of 100. Whew. Got that straight?

Anyway, after reading those, I thought I would format my ideas on fatherhood into my own list of 100 ways to be a better father. If you have something to add, I’d love a comment about it.

100 Ways to be a Better Father

  1. Be present with your children.
  2. Heap lavish amounts of praise on your kids.
  3. Focus on the positive when speaking to your children.
  4. Say I love you. A lot.
  5. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions to your family.
  6. Work on improving your relationship with your wife or partner.
  7. Take time out from work for family time.
  8. Laugh at yourself. All the time.
  9. Listen to your kids with all of your attention.
  10. Learn new things by teaching your children about them.
  11. Start a personal journal.
  12. Hold your kids accountable for their actions and words, but don’t use punishment to teach.
  13. Leave your watch and daytimer on your desk sometimes.
  14. Make a meal for your family.
  15. Do something wacky and unpredictable in front of your kids.
  16. Spend some time one-on-one with your child.
  17. Get moving. Have a fitness plan in place and get your kids to join in. Teach kids to play competitive sports such as Ping Pong or Basketball.
  18. Take more walks, and leave the car at home.
  19. Fall in love with your wife. Again.
  20. Admit you’re wrong when you are.
  21. Forgive your dad for any grudges you hold against him.
  22. Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
  23. Take time for yourself, so you can bring that sense of fulfillment with you to the family.
  24. Remember what you hated to hear from your parents as a kid and vow to be different.
  25. Read out loud to your children.
  26. Leave your work issues at your job. Don’t dump on your kids because your day was bad.
  27. Drop your change in a jar each day. When full, open a savings account for your child.
  28. Once in a while, ask your kids what you can do better. Then do it better.
  29. Hugs and kisses are golden. Be generous.
  30. Let your kids make their own choices.
  31. Get out in nature with the family. Teach your kids water sports.
  32. Count to 10 before you react to your children’s actions.
  33. Remember that kids mirror our actions, so watch what you say to or around them.
  34. Parenting is a shared responsibility. Jump in and do something mom normally does.
  35. Learn from your elders – ask them what they’ve learned as fathers.
  36. When a child does something not so nice, separate their actions from them in your mind. A child is never bad, even though their actions may be.
  37. The next time you feel like giving up on something, do it anyway and use it as a teaching moment.
  38. Remember that everyone is somebody’s child.
  39. Listen to yourself. Do you sound like your dad? Is that a good thing?
  40. Give yourself a break. I haven’t met a father yet who doesn’t make mistakes.
  41. Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it.
  42. Go with your child to school once in a while. Meet the teacher and ask how you can help.
  43. Make your health and fitness a priority so you’ll be around for your kids for a long time.
  44. Teach the value of service to others by volunteering in your neighborhood, church, or school.
  45. Write love notes and leave them for your kids to find.
  46. Read a book about fatherhood.
  47. Write a book about fatherhood, or an article about how to be a better father.
  48. Make some snacks for the kids as a surprise.
  49. Speak as one with your wife, so your kids don’t play you off on one another.
  50. Do you say yes all the time? Use no when you mean it, even if they don’t like it.

  1. Do you say no all the time? Say yes once in a while.
  2. Snuggle with your kids.
  3. Show your wife respect always. Make sure your kids do also.
  4. Take the time to really explain things to your children. Don’t just say “because I said so.”
  5. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t suffer from excess pride.
  6. Accept who you are, but don’t settle. Strive to improve yourself every day.
  7. Smile at your children and your partner.
  8. Make amends when you’re wrong or grumpy or harsh with your kids.
  9. Periodically assess your life and change course if needed. Don’t be unhappy just because you think you can’t change.
  10. Take a class or learn a new skill with your kids.
  11. Act as if you’re the best dad ever.
  12. Imagine you’ve only got one week left to live. How would you treat your kids? What’s stopping you from doing that right now?
  13. Let your kids see you cry.
  14. Explore every park in your town.
  15. Once in a while, take a day off just because, and spend it with your family.
  16. Find out about your family history and start sharing it with your kids.
  17. Give high fives for each tiny accomplishment they make.
  18. Get out of debt as quick as you can, and teach your kids about the value of being debt-free.
  19. Take a big leap when you see an opportunity, and show your children about trust, faith, and the virtue of following your dreams.
  20. Get down on their level and try to see things as they do. Chances are, you’ve forgotten what it’s like.
  21. Learn some really corny kid jokes and use them often.
  22. Hold a family meeting and get your kid’s input on important decisions.
  23. Don’t just give your kids the answers to questions. Show them how to find the answers.
  24. Remember, they’re never too old for piggyback rides.
  25. Have patience with your children. Don’t expect them to be perfect.
  26. Don’t insist on conformity. Let your kids follow their dreams, not yours.
  27. Hold their hands, literally.
  28. Remember to let your children save face. Embarrassing them in front of their friends is not cool.
  29. Keep your relationship issues between you and your wife. Don’t let your kids take on all your crap.
  30. When your children were babies, you gushed over them. Do the same thing for them now.
  31. Don’t gossip around your kids.
  32. Stand up for the weak, the oppressed, the underdog.
  33. Grow a beard. (Actually, I just put that in to see if you were paying attention.)
  34. Take your child to work with you and explain what you do for a living.
  35. Make something by hand with them. Don’t worry about perfection, just enjoy the process.
  36. Once in a while, give them a “get out of jail free” card.
  37. Tell your children how much they mean to you.
  38. Follow through on your promises to them.
  39. Give your kids responsibilities.
  40. Speak to your children as your equals. Give them the respect you ask for.
  41. Plan surprises for them and keep them guessing.
  42. When speaking to other adults, act as if your kids were listening.
  43. Play games with your children. Let them win sometimes, but don’t make it obvious or easy.
  44. Before you walk in the door from work, take some deep breaths and leave your work outside.
  45. Give mom the day off once in a while, and get the kids to help you pamper her.
  46. Be generous with your time, your energy, and your money. Give freely to those in need.
  47. Cultivate your fatherhood Superpowers.
  48. Don’t let other adults get away with unacceptable behavior around your kids.
  49. Remember the Golden Rule. It does apply to your children as well.
  50. Find your center and define what truly matters to you. Make that your inner retreat when life throws you a curve ball, and share that with your kids.

What have I missed? Please leave a comment with your addition to this list of ways to be a better father.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

63 thoughts on “Fatherhood: 100 Ways to Be a Better Father

  • October 5, 2009 at 8:56 am

    All noble characteristics. Kids tend to mimic our actions so it’s wise to be careful with our words and expressions. And the gossiping around kids thing is a biggie. When I was a kid my mom got a speeding ticket. On the way to the courthouse she described to me the other time she got a ticket. She pleaded with the judge to let her off because she had “never had a ticket before”. Of course I chimed in and said “but, you had one in California just two years ago.” HAHAHAHAHA BUSTED!
    .-= Keith Wilcox´s last blog ..The Alphabet by Celebrities =-.

    • January 3, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      I’m actually a child who wants her dad to be better and I think that he missed to always openly communicate with your child and your child’s mother which can prevent heartache as I am going through now.

      • June 30, 2016 at 3:28 pm

        Ask to have a weekly meetings to discuss family issues and everyone’s concern to understand each other as a one team for a great communication, good communication is always the key for solid family bonding. Challenges in life is a blessing because they are supposed to expand our potentials, and life was meant to be challenging Wish you luck

  • October 6, 2009 at 4:11 am

    I agree with these, but is there a ‘100 ways to be a better mom’ which includes things like, “respect your husband” and “be one voice with their father”?

    I’m guessing not…

    • October 6, 2009 at 9:56 am

      John – I’m with you on that point. It seems to me that most ‘ways to be a better mom’ articles are focused on children, not the treatment of the the father, and I wanted to be a bit different. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in mother/father relations, and I tried to address it solely from the viewpoint of what a father can do. (And I was pretty sure that writing ‘how to be a better mom’ wouldn’t fly very well, since I am a dad…) I can see from my own experience that it’s an important topic – equal respect for both partners – and I struggle with where to draw the line without pointing fingers.

      Your comment does give me an idea for a future post, though, as soon as I can figure out how to write it… If you have suggestions, please email me at derek (at) naturalpapa.com. Thanks for reading!

      • October 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

        Just to build on that, do you think that a “how to be a better mother” list would ever say something like “Take time out from work” or “Make a meal for the family as a surprise”?

        I love your blog for many of the reasons you’ve mentioned – being a mom is everywhere, while being a dad is not, but little things like this hurt – if dad making a meal is a surprise, who’s doing the cooking every other day? How about something like, “Defy stereotypes,” so your kids will learn that they can do and be anything they want to be. “Create a clean, healthy home for your kids and teach them how to contribute.” or “Teach your kids to cook and do laundry so when they go to college they won’t live on ramen and turn all their clothes pink.”

        • October 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

          Kristen – To be honest, I’ve not seen a list like this for mothers – perhaps it would say that, what with more moms working outside the home than ever before. And yes, I started Natural Papa because I saw so many mom blogs and wanted to contrast what they are writing about, so it will always lean toward the father’s viewpoint. Is there a “100 Ways” list for mothers?

          I wrote this from a (stereotypical) dad’s point of view, because in my house, I’ve been the sole wage-earner so that my wife would not have to work outside the home. She enjoys it, though I know there are moms who may want to work out, and not be home raising the children.

          I did try to include things like “Work on improving your relationship with your wife or partner.” “Parenting is a shared responsibility. Jump in and do something mom normally does.” “Show your wife respect always. Make sure your kids do also.” “Give mom the day off once in a while, and get the kids to help you pamper her.”

          I had considered writing a “100 Ways to be a Better Mother” post, just for the controversy it would generate, as a man would be writing it. If I do, I’ll try to use your comments as a guide. Thanks for reading.

          • October 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

            I’m not encouraging you to generate controversy 🙂 although it would definitely be interesting! Just making a point that some of these DO sound like you’re a stereotypical 1950s guy who makes all the money while mom does all the housework. I know from other posts this is not true, though! I just think it shouldn’t be a “surprise” to your kids that dad is capable of preparing a meal – dads are grownups, and all grownups should be able to cook decent and healthy food.

            Giving mom the day off “once in a while” is probably the worst one, which is why I didn’t even TRY to address that one 🙂

          • October 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

            For most men, that would be a huge start, though. And I would love it if mom gave me a day off once in a while 🙂

          • September 29, 2016 at 7:08 am

            People stop thinking about what makes a better wife, open your eyes it’s about what a father can do to better himself. Who cares about making wife better, you came to this site because you wanted to be better fathers. I think many don’t get it. I liked it and a lot of them made me think. Great stuff thankx

    • December 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      John: Really… I really can’t believe that you even brought that up on this page. The mother your wife is looking to you, so be a better man and your wife will follow. I’m learning that now at the age of 29 with 4 amazing kids and one on the way, because of my wife. Thinking about your comment really made me upset for some reason. Maybe because your on this page to learn how to be a better Father, and you throw out the better mommy card. THink about it. Does she really need to be better or do you need to think about the things that she does around the house that you blow off everyday because it is done everyday. Yes your wife may make mistakes and so will you, learn how to be a better Father and your wife will follow, and so will your kids. If the school teacher has 30 failing students in her math class, is it the students fault?

      • August 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Tj Alexander sounds like a kiss ass. Ur not.even 30 here and have 5 kids. I’m sure ur on wellfare and or at least foodstamps bc I.seriously doubt u have a career makeing enough to happily support 5 kids without gocornment assistance. And I’m sure ur wife/girlfriend or.whatever is worn to the bone trying tto take care of 5 screaming mouths at the same time so of coarae ur gonna jump on herw and try to.stick.upfor the chick in the equation and most likely to suck up to urs bc it may earn u some brownie points with her and result in a little less bitching from her you’ll get tonight. How about be a better dad by wearing a condom and sucking less dollars out of welfare and keep it in ur pants tj and quit sounding like a kiss ass. Its a list for fathers like the titlepresents.

        • August 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm

          What a bullshit comment.
          You know nothing about this man how can you malign him?
          How about you try looming after your kids instead of suggesting without any basis that he may not look after his

    • September 29, 2016 at 7:02 am

      This is about fathers what they can do to be better. Really has nothing to do with the wife. That is a whole separate issue.

  • October 6, 2009 at 4:13 am

    ps – that is not my blog your website has erroneously linked to in my last comment.

    • October 6, 2009 at 9:58 am

      John – The plugin I use to help commenters get their blog posts some visibility is CommentLuv, and it’s not perfect, so I apologize. I edited out yours, because of your comment. I can add something back in if you like. Cheers!

    • October 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you, Arlan. I’m honored.

  • October 19, 2009 at 8:49 pm


    I totally agree on #22 – It’s one way we can give back and help out our brothers.

    I thought about ranking them, or prioritizing them, but my brain hurt just to think about it…

    Thanks for reading!

    • October 19, 2009 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks for reading, DaddysFishBowl. A big part of this exercise for me was brainstorming ways for myself to be a better dad – I have a long way to go!


  • November 6, 2009 at 9:13 am


    Thanks for giving me a wakeup call bigtime on my wife and family. I am new to the whole parenting thing. This made me realize how special my family is to me. I cried my eyes out when I read those 100 ways to be a good dad. I have yelled at my daughter like the way my dad would yell at me and it made me cry a lot. Now my daughter will not even stay with me while her mom is at work. How could I ask her for a second chance and not yelling at her and make this a positive change in my life?


    • November 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

      Andrew –

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      My advice? Be her friend first, and make sure she’s getting what she needs from you – a kind word, a snuggle, a feeling of safety and security. It may take a big effort from you to turn things around, but children can be pretty forgiving (unlike us adults sometimes). As dads, we need to remember that our voices and body language are much different from a mother’s, and we might need to ‘take it down a notch’ when interacting with kids.


  • February 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I just wanted to say that so far, I am loving these articles. Not really your target audience, I’m a 22 year old young woman – but I DO have a father! 🙂

    Despite not being male and in turn, not needing to be manly, I read your article ‘Advice to Myself as a Young Man’ and I nearly cried when I read about following your dreams, and not others. My WHOLE damn life I’ve been trying to find a way to put my art on the back burner what I learn something more lucrative. So while I gobbled up all the art classes I could in high school, I went into accounting my freshman year of college and almost immediately dropped out. It’s funny how it takes an article about manliness and fatherhood to wake up a 22 year old girl.

    Thank you thank you, for re-inspiring me. 🙂


    • February 22, 2010 at 9:05 am

      Thanks, Servanda. I’m glad you got something from that post, and I appreciate your kind words!


  • March 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I have to say I found myself in almost all of these points. This is a great list. I’m glad I found you through the Daddy Blog Reviews!
    .-= goofdad´s last blog ..Bees! =-.

  • August 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Looks like you have touched on all the important aspects of fatherhood. Being a new father myself (well for last 3 years but still learning something new every day), I am constantly amazed at how my boys respond to whatever I am feeling inside. And every time they tell me ‘Daddy I want to be big and strong like you’ a little of that rubs off and makes me smile and gives me strength to keep working towards my dreams.

  • September 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I realize this is an older post but I just have to say, to those that may judge or ‘accuse’ Derek of being a ‘stereotypical 1950’s dad’, if that’s what works for their family, who are you to judge? One of my favourite quotes about feminism is from my mother – she always said, “Sure, I’m a feminist, I do what I want to.” I’m a pretty fiery and independent woman (my husband would agree). I’ve always worked in a male dominated field (construction management) and can certainly hold my own with the boys. We now have a baby and I’m on maternity leave (1 year in Canada). Before our son was born I thought I wouldn’t mind to stay home but if we couldn’t afford it I’d go back to work. Now that he’s here I cry at even the thought of leaving him with someone else. My husband and I are trying very hard to adjust our lifestyle and budget as well as find ways to derive a little extra income here and there to make it possible for me to stay home with our child(ren). Since starting maternity leave I’ve assumed that if I’m home I can pick up the majority of the housework, including making dinner most days. This doesn’t mean my husband is/would be exempt from doing anything at all around the house, it just means I ‘work’ in the home and he ‘works’ at his job all day. Then we share the rest of the responsibilities. For example, he does all the yard work, vehicle maintenance, etc. and I look after cooking, cleaning and all the laundry but his (which he has always done for himself, bless his heart).

    I guess my (somewhat longwinded) point here is that it’s only oppression if the person feels oppressed. Otherwise it’s a mutual agreement in a symbiotic relationship. Sometimes the partners can switch roles but generally they have tasks they’re both responsible to complete. For me, feeling like I would HAVE to return to work would be oppression. For the next woman, staying home might be. Lastly, this is a blog about being a DAD, not about being a MOM.

    • September 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Amy! I like the way you put it: “it’s only oppression if the person feels oppressed. Otherwise it’s a mutual agreement in a symbiotic relationship.”

      Our marriage works for us, but different folks have different needs. Thanks for the reminder!

      • June 28, 2015 at 5:36 am

        Derek I am a single Dad raising a baby on my own . from newborn. And I am trying to be both mom and dad. I need to be balanced emotionally and act as both . Is there anything blogged about how to be more mothering?

  • October 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I do #23 quite a bit. My wife, duaghter and I have a conversation about once a month where we tell one thing the other person does that we love and the one thing we would change if we could.

    The rule is there are no hurt feelings or being hurtful and being able to talk about and adjust each other’s habbits has made my family a wonderful center for our lives to orbit.

    Ps.. Grow a beard 🙂 ha. My beard grows so quickly that I sometimes let my daughter pick what I wear that week. Gotee, soul patch, side burns, beard or mustache.

  • June 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I like many of the suggestions here. But some of your assumptions are a little sexist. I mean “make a meal for your family”. There are lots of us guys who prepare most meals these days – myself included. I cook 95% of the meals in my house. Still I cut and pasted many of your suggestions.

    • June 26, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Sorry you took it that way. I wrote this assuming that some of us do some of these, and that if you start doing any of these, it will add to your father factor. (And I know plenty of dads who never cook for the family, so if they begin to, it’s a step up.)

  • August 22, 2011 at 6:48 am

    i am having a hard time being a good father. I dont know what the problem may be but there is something that im lacking and i cant seem to put my hands on it. I had kids at an early age so its kind of hard to really be a father. To make a long story short i need some fatherly tips from a father that i never got growing up. Also this list is pretty impressive and i will try some of these things out.

    • January 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      I was in the same boat as Antonio. My Dad left when I was 2. I find it most rewarding to watch my daughter involve herself in what ever, then try to take part in her interests. I often ask if she would like to try what I like. I’ve managed to get her interested in Golf (at 3 yrs.) and is now something we can do together (at 8 yrs old). She still has a liking for miniature golf (sigh), so we just have to make time for that instead of the real deal. I also think Lego’s and puzzles(oddly) let us know who we are to each-other. Hours of working through a project together is one way to learn a person. Much like doing a home remodel with your wife. What you didn’t know, you soon will.. 8^)
      I do stick to conformity and my patience are thin. I try to forgive myself for my failures as a father. I do know one thing though. As long as we both wake up in the morning, I get another chance to do better… I am often overwhelmed by how much energy and how inquisitive kids can be. It wears me down. Enough is NEVER enough and NO seems to have 2 silent letters. It is what it is and we’re in it for the long haul. Remember how cool it was to be a care free kid? Our reward is, we get to provide that feeling for them almost everyday…

      Rock on, Dads…

  • December 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Let your past behind,but learn from your mistakes; Live for today, you may miss something; Pray for your future, tomorrow may never come.

  • January 8, 2012 at 8:29 am

    First of all, Thank you for creating this list. As a father of a 9 year old girl and 3 year old twin boys I am always looking for new ways to become a better father.
    I do however feel the need to comment on other people who feel the need to make comments like you are “sexist” and how some of the suggestions you make would not be on a “moms” list. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe you made the list to help other fathers be better fathers. I am actually a stay at home dad and some of the points made would not apply since I already do most of those things. My wife works and I know that making a meal once in awhile would apply to her.
    My point being is that it frustrates me that when someone tries to do something nice and help others there are people out there you feel the need to criticize/correct. I loved the way you responded to those replies. It tells me a lot about your character by how you apologized (which obviously you need not do)and addressed/answered their concern in a very “pc” tone. What ever happened to “if you dont have something nice to say” advice.

  • January 8, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Thank you for putting such a list together. I have been feeling for some time that I’m dropping the ball with raising my daughter but just couldn’t grasp what I’m missing. I have been making improvements for some time but was in need of some guidance. This list gives me so much to work with.

    God bless. and thank you again.

  • June 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Inspiring, just when you think you are doing a great job at being a father you shut me down and show me I have room for improvement. Thank you. I am a single father of the greatest 7 year old daughter in the world. I find it very hard to get along with her mother as we have two very different thoughts on parenting. I am not saying she is wrong, us wish we could come together on something and get along around our daughter. I want to be the best I can at everything I do and I would put fatherhood at the top of my list. Thank you for all your thoughts on the subject and I will learn to adapt some of these into my everyday life as a father. Good job!!!

  • August 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Im only 22 years old but i have four kids 2 that are mine by blood and 2 that are my by marrage. I know im not a perfect father at all and i mess up . but imma start doin these things and maybe my relationshipwith my kids will get better.

  • September 9, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Hi, great list, thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to improve on being a better dad. I completely agree with each and every one of the items, I guess the only thing i would add (if I missed it on your list) is to let your child know how proud of them you are. Those simple words carry a lot of weight, I would have loved to have heard more of that from my father while a youngster. Thanks again for sharing!

  • September 24, 2012 at 6:50 am

    i gotta say the i find the list really empowering, i have two great kids both under the age of 5, a girl & a boy. But sometimes when my daughter gets cheeky & by that i don’t neccesarily mean naughty, i find that her & i butt heads continually together. I try to find ways to comprimise with her about behaving but in doing so i feel sometimes i’m really out of touch being a dad i mean my own father was no “father of the year type” but he gave it his best. I want to do so much better than that, i want to BE better than that. I love them both & want to be a better dad for them.

  • October 9, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I like and have enacted nearly all of these directives. My question is, when you have a spouse (in this case a wife) who doesn’t seem to appreciate the efforts of her husband by showing him respect, kindness and most of all AFFECTION (you know the kind of affection I mean here) thus continually creating a strain on the marriage, what do you suggest? I’ve repeatedly tried to get her to go with me to marital counseling, but she won’t go either because she has too much pride, she’s too worried she might have to give in in order to make me happier, or there is something buried in her past that is too emotionally painful for her to dredge up in couseling sessions. I’m nearing wits end with this and I’m worried my children will suffer emotionally. Can you help with this?

  • November 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Thank you for writing such an incredible list! I dig it and will try to use it as a reference point to look back on, and build upon if I see an opportunity!

  • November 27, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Hello! Thanks for the enlightening info. Shared it with single fathers empowerment and support group Their Eyes Were Watching Daddy. Thanks again!



  • January 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I have two kids and this list is a good reminder and testament. Thanks for the list. My father pasted away when I was very young and it’s difficult sometimes to know what to do and how to act. I still don’t think I’ll grow a beard!

    • March 18, 2016 at 1:29 am

      you deserve props for this list. well done.

  • March 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for your great list. Seems like every time I begin to think I’m doing a good job being a Dad I find a way to screw something up. I’m a bit older (60) and have young twins (12)and my wife and I are on opposite sides of everything (yes, Everything). I love my children more than I could ever put into words. They’re amazing and deserve the best.
    Thanks so much. You put a lot of great stuff in your list. I wish every Father on the planet were able to read it and follow your advice. We only get one chance to be a good Dad.
    Keep up the good work

  • August 11, 2014 at 4:22 am

    Funny I came to this site for woodworking looking for plans to do with my kid(s) a five year old girl and soon to be two year old boy (getting some plans to put aside for him). Reading the list it was something inspiring to help me get ahead with being a father as mine always worked. I’ve noticed I’ve been selfish with my time completely. I’ve tried compromising with myself that if I built or made stuff for them it would suffice but recently seen the error of it as it made me further distant. Work has been extensive with being on the road and lately my daughter has been putting on her work gloves and come to help me with hauling scrap metal. Like some has posted life sometimes has a way with getting ahead of us and we totally miss where our priorities truly lie and we avoid the true facts of our failures thus far. I admit 90% of the list I’ve dropped the ball on and kicking myself hard for being so blinded by life’s daily hurtles that I hardly seem to complete unscathed. I’m making a goal now for myself to apply at least a couple of these each day. I’ve printed the list and greatly appreciate the time and effort you took to put this together. We are human and make mistakes it’s how we learn from them and move on that matters. From that I think is why those that left rude remarks towards your helpful insights are what motivated them to respond as they did and as said by another your way of handling it was tactful and probably only drew more ire out of them. I’ve learned we live in a very selfish society and when those that live in such views sees someone that gives advice or praise such as you have without asking for anything in return they lash out because they don’t understand. You have a good head on your shoulders and wish there were more out there like that. This day in age it is becoming more and more rare and concerned by this because it leads me to wonder about what my children will have to face. If anything I would add is to teach common sense and morals to build on. To teach our children how to think of the consequences for their actions before they do a certain thing that can hurt another or themselves…. As I take a moment to scroll up I see I left a book. My apologies and again say thank you for your time taken to give fathers like me a reality slap to wake me up from my stupor.

    • September 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks for the list…I’m 29 and I just recently reunited with my son…the last time I saw him he was 4 months old…now he’s 7 going on 8….I don’t know what to do…I think he hates me…I just started dating his mom again and things are going well with us…but every time I say something as little as HI he gets all mean and throws a fit and tells me to leave him alone…I’m keeping my cool and staying calm…but I need to do something cause its killing me…any tips would be appreciated..thanks Ryan..west2key@gmail.com

      • September 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

        It’s the little things and persistence that will chip away that wall of anger. He’s using it to mask his fear I bet. Just play it cool and shrug it when he does it but from time to time when you can say at the end of his “fit” just non chalauntly say “I was thinking about going out to/for “his favorite thing here” exp. ice cream, but if you don’t want to it’s all good”. Whatever you do don’t force him on anything and don’t lose your cool or you’ll be right back to square one.

  • December 3, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Wow, I think some of us forget that this are suggestions and not words written in Stone or nobody is making anybody follow Derek advise. I was searching for ways to improve being a father and I run into people who are complaining and getting offended about a suggestion a wise man wrote to help if it was meant for you. That’s it nothing else. Take any advice or suggestions you can use to improve. Too many people are waiting time getting offended on suggestions instead spending time in improving in other areas. Derek, I want to thank you for your suggestions and I definitely need to remember when dealing with a teenage daughter. I definitely am open for suggestions in improving me being a father cause I have a 10 months old boy who I have to pass down that “how to be a man and a husband and last but not least a father and better be a good one at that. You see I have never had a father and at that never really belonged to a family. Long story yet an interesting one that I have thought of writing about. From surviving the streets of Calcutta at the the age of 5 to being molested and abused every a boy can be to being in jail at age 5 to being in orphanages to being adopted growing up in Christian based home in America to doing 10 years of school in 7 years and graduating to being in the Army to being deployed to Middle East for the 1st time to getting married for the 1st time having my pride and beautiful oldest daughter being deployed for the 2nd tour to Middle East having my 2nd prize my 2nd daughter getting injured being discharged from the Army as a Disabled Veteran and so on and so on. But never had a chance to learn from another man in the subject of “how to be a man, a husband, and most importantly how to be a dad not just a Father” which is why I am here. Been running into so much with in the last 13 years that I need help. I been winging it most of the time and I think been doing a well job now let to toot my own horn or anything but I need advice and help now. So as I said at the beginning of my writing, I want some advice and suggestions in how I can improve and how I can be a better father so that I can raise his kids in a way that they will be a positive contributer and not negative to what we people call society. I have always told my babies that it is our job as parents to make our children’s childhood better than ours and 2nd rule as I try to live by is “The Golden Rule” Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Although I have not been pretty hard lately, we can improve our society if everyone lived their lives with just these 2 simple rules. Anyways, enough of my jobberish just wanted to say thanks for the advice on how to make my kid’s lives better by me just implementing a few of those suggestions from “100 Ways to Be a Better Father”

  • March 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

    I agree 100% with everything you said, I need to work on myself alot, I dont spend the quality time I need to with my kids as much as I should, I get angry alot over little stuff, I’m going to save this page for reference so everytime I need to remember a few key points i can just refer to your blog, I have 3 kids and lose my patience alot (too much). Everyone thinks its so easy being a father, but its not, we have stress too. I believe in the stereotypical 1950’s father figure and I’m 23, its just how I was raised, I believe that the father should work and the wife/mother should be just that, a wife/mother, not the husband/father as well, unless she had to, thats why theres hobbies, to keep her busy and entertained… With the mother working AND the father working, thats just taking from the children, parents should have to or want to send their children to daycare, if the parents need a break every now and then, they could let them stay with the grandparents or close relatives… I appreciate your blog, and will read more of your stuff… Thanks

  • October 20, 2015 at 4:50 am

    I absolutely loved these!!
    My partner needs a lot of help coming from a bad childhood, he’s following in his fathers footsteps.

  • March 20, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Thank you for this list Derek. it is one of the most helpful things I’ve ever read. I’ve been praying and I know God lead me to your well thought out words. I will share this with every dad I know. Every single thing you said is 100% true and I can’t think of anything you left out. Some people commenting may view things differently but there will always be those who do. Please don’t change a thing about your views they are everything every father should be. I wish my dad read your list I would have had a better childhood but that won’t stop me from being a better dad to my kids which i also have been struggling with.

  • April 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Don’t let your reason for not being in your kids life be because you want to get back at the mother.

  • December 17, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Almost in tears!
    Thank you

  • July 1, 2017 at 4:18 am

    I love this… My only question is #12. My boy is 3 years old and when he’s misbehaving I try to let him know he s responsible for his actions, and lead him on his way to understanding taking accountability, but 60 70 percent of the time i don’t feel like he’s grasping/understanding those things unless I “threaten him with punishment”..it seems to me (in our case) that when I threaten with consequences or a punishment it is the only time he’s accepting the accountability and adjusting his actions/behavior and mostly…understanding that it’s not ok what he’s doing at the moment . Id like to find a different approach (in a more peaceful way ) but it seems that he’s not understanding or taking me seriously unless punishment or consequences are coming out of my mouth ..I would really like to find a way to have him take me serious and adjust the behavior without me having to take that approach, can you give me a couple alternatives? I appreciate you – Chris ..
    Gilbert az

  • August 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    All good except number 63
    Disagree about crying in front of our kids if they are little or been teenagers they should know you are strong for them. If it is unavoidable then OK and do not beat yourself up about it. But it should be the hard to avoid exception rather than the practise


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