Thank you to the good fathers out there!
I write this as a tribute to Father’s Day and to every warm, caring father out there. Celebrating my second Father’s Day has made me deeply thankful for the chance to witness our little one grow up.
First, let’s address a key question: What makes a “good father”? This is a perspective I’ve cultivated over my first two years of doctoral studies in developmental psychology, under the mentorship of Dr. Ross Parke (see his book on Fatherhood). Importantly, I’ve learned that being a good father isn’t necessarily contingent on being a biological one. Even if you are biologically related to your child, you still need to fulfill specific developmental criteria.
Firstly, you must be available and willing to interact with your child (Park & Cookston, 2019). This implies being a constant presence in their everyday lives, participating in activities ranging from changing diapers to celebrating holidays. This consistent engagement forms the cornerstone of bonding with your child. Just like any relationship, it takes dedication and effort to cultivate something profound. My appreciation extends to non-biological fathers and stepfathers who go the extra mile to forge strong relationships with their children.
Secondly, it’s crucial to engage with your child through both their best and worst times (Cabrera et al., 2000; Lamb et al., 1985, 1987). This engagement means providing regular contact, sharing in caregiving duties, and creating cherished memories through shared experiences. I applaud the fathers who are there for recitals, ball games, karate belt ceremonies, or even just daily walks. Each of these moments contributes to building a strong bond with your child.
Lastly, a good father must be responsible for the child’s well-being (Park & Cookston, 2019; Cabrera et al., 2000). This responsibility spans everything from managing routine tasks like bathing and feeding the child, to tracking their growth and providing mentorship. It also encompasses making doctor’s appointments and engaging in heartfelt conversations about their dreams and fears.
To all the wonderful fathers out there, I see you, and I commend you. Your tireless efforts and dedication to your children is extraordinary. The memories you’re creating will be cherished by your little ones for a lifetime and beyond. Your influence will ripple through generations.