What Makes a Good Father?

emotional intelligence
It seems only fair that since I wrote a blog about mothers close to Mother’s Day that I give equal honor to this upcoming Father’s Day. It is interesting what emerged for me as I was pondering on the idea of what a healthy father might be like. I realized that this person I am describing would be rather “new age” if you will, in the sense that I don’t think many of use experienced a father that embraced all these characteristics. But, you may prove me wrong.

If I was going to nutshell what I think would be essential features in a father I would say that he would have at least an above average amount of emotional intelligence. If you haven’t heard this wording it is worth looking it up to gain a better understanding. A father who is more emotionally intelligent is aware of his and others emotions and also able to regulate his emotions in reference to others and situations.

While traditionally many would say a good father is one that provides well for his family; is a hard worker and a good disciplinarian. While these qualities are admirable and fine the child also benefits from a father who is able to be more emotionally present. A dad who can share emotions (and not just anger) with his child is a wonderful gift. A father who is able to honor and comfort the child’s many emotions validates the child.

Following in line with being more emotionally open is being able to verbally and physically express kind, loving words and physical gestures to the child. Hugging often; saying I love you on a regular basis. A father who is consistent and reliable in showing these qualities to not just the child but also to his partner, family and friends is what makes him genuine.

So am I sounding like we need a mother for a father? Segregating different roles to the mother and father is no longer in the best service of the child. Both parents need to own what we have traditionally called feminine or masculine qualities. So, do we all possess this capacity?

Psychologist still debate whether emotional intelligence is something one can learn or if it is strictly a genetic tendency. While I know our innate temperament does affect this ability in each of us, I can’t help but believe that these important qualities can also be learned if so desired by the one lacking them.

In raising three boys I have witnessed the differences that are biologically rooted. I have one boy who is naturally more expressive with his feelings. However, I have seen how the lineage of my children’s father and his father and his father’s father has travelled generationally shaping the boys in this family. It is my hope that more parents will break down the barriers of traditional roles and learn to embrace the whole of their being.

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