What Dads Do

Father making zany face as he kisses baby's feet

Dads have their own unique way of doing life with their kids. Sometimes it's like a secret code that only dads and children understand. Here are some thoughts from parents about how dads influence their kids and the role they play in the family: 

Celebrate Daddy

According to experts, babies say “Dada” before “Mama” because d’s are easier to say than m’s. From the moment our little one pleaded for Daddy to pick him up, the bond between child and parent formed.

In our family, Daddy is the preferred parent after a day with Mommy. Hugs, smiles and competitive banter follow “Daddy’s home!” Of course, his challenge is to peel excited toddlers off him and get his clothes changed before playing.

They love his runny macaroni and cheese, and they enjoy showing what they colored and built. Although tired, he says the end of the day with the kids is the best part of his day.

—Bridget Nelan

Wanted: Fathers

Fathers have good reason to get involved in caretaking. By spending time with their children, they provide balance to a child’s development. The importance of joint parental involvement can be seen even in how fathers and mothers interact with their children. Mothers tend to favor quiet play while fathers enjoy physical games.

—Lori Z. Scott

A Father’s Influence

My oldest son was less than a year old when I crashed a radio-controlled model plane 15 feet from his stroller. Despite this scary introduction to flight, he picked up on my hobby and now works with real airplanes. My interests influenced his life.

When I became a parent, my heavenly Father relieved my insecurities over being a role model to my children, and I learned that what I did affected my children’s character. How they would treat their future spouse was influenced by how I treated my wife. My prayer, Bible study and church involvement laid a foundation for how they would live out their faith.

A child’s first impression of his heavenly Father is often based on his perception of his earthly father. If a child’s earthly father shows he cares about people, the child often concludes that God cares for him.

—Randall Treadwell

Just Like Dad

When Clayton was 3, he dressed in police clothes, rode his bike to where we parked our cars and issued parking tickets. One day my husband drove into the drive while Clayton was on patrol. Knowing Clayton loved anything to do with the police, Brad turned on the car’s emergency flashers, stuck his head out the window and made a siren sound.

Clayton’s eyes grew large. Did the two things he loved the most — his dad and the police — combine into one? The moment my husband saw Clayton’s eyes, he wished he hadn’t done that.

I’m not a police officer,” he told Clayton, but our son smiled, unconvinced that his father was not on the police force.

After days of Clayton’s misplaced idol worship, my husband decided the situation had gone far enough. Although he dreaded losing his son’s admiration, he showed Clayton the car’s flashers and imitated a siren noise again.

Brad’s confession was met with Clayton’s confidence. “You’re undercover.”

Brad shook his head. “How could you think that?”

“You have no lights on the top of your car,” Clayton said, “and you have your badge on the back of the car.” Brad looked. The sticker was for a contribution to the Fraternal Order of the Police.

He explained the badge and said, “Son, I’m sorry, but I’m not an undercover cop.”

Tears formed in Clayton’s eyes. He finally realized his dad did not have the best job in the world.

After that, Clayton stopped wearing his police uniform every day and began wearing army clothes, only occasionally taking out his police uniform. If his dad didn’t have that job, then it wasn’t as great as he had thought.

My husband didn’t lose his son’s admiration with the truth. Clayton’s love for his father never wavered, and he learned something valuable: His dad would always tell him the truth.

—Chris Brack

The compiled article “What Dads Do” first appeared on FocusOnTheFamily.com (2016). "Celebrate Daddy” first appeared in Focus On Your Child Early Stages in January 2007. "Wanted: Fathers" first appeared in Focus On Your Child Early Stages in May/June 2007. "A Father’s Influence" first appeared in Focus On Your Child Early Stages in January 2007. “Just Like Dad” first appeared in the "Parents Like Us" column in Focus On Your Child Early Stages in August/September 2007. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

“What Dads Do” compiled article copyright © 2016 by Focus on the Family. “Celebrate Daddy” copyright © 2007 by Bridgt Nelan. “Wanted: Fathers” copyright © 2007 by Lori Z. Scott. “A Father’s Influence” copyright © 2007 by Randall Treadwell. “Just Like Dad” copyright © 2007 by Chris Brack.

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