How To Be A Good Dad When You Had A Bad Dad

man reading a book to his daughter while smiling

This article originally appeared on and reflects their mission and beliefs.

Not everyone has fond memories of his or her father. In fact, many children carry a father wound into adulthood that can have an effect on their lives for years. Research shows that kids who grow up without an engaged dad are more likely to drop out of school, end up in jail, and engage in high-risk behaviors.

Thankfully, these are statistics, not guarantees. Having a bad dad doesn’t mean someone is destined to become one himself. I’ve known many men who have had poor father figures yet have overcome this in their own lives and parenting. Here are 3 things I’ve learned from these guys about how to be a good dad even if you didn’t have one.

1. They reject passivity.

Good dads are willing to work hard to engage actively in their children’s lives. They recognize just how crucial it is that dads do important things like play with their kids, hold their kids accountable for their behavior, and regularly say “I love you.” Their kids’ development depends on this. Kids desperately need to feel loved by their fathers. Good dads understand that they are called to provide such love and are capable of providing it. While this may practically look different for dads in varying situations, the principle is the same. Good dads are not passive in their relationships with their kids.

2. They embrace counsel.

Men who had bad dads seek out other strong men and fathers. They surround themselves with these men and learn from them because their lives back up their advice. Whether this is among their co-workers, friend group, or church, they seek out counsel and advice from those who are getting the job done right at home. Good dads are unafraid to ask, observe, learn, and even fail in the process of growing as a father. And while being a good dad may be more of an uphill climb for them than for others, they are committed to the process. (The fact that you are reading this article right now shows that you’re committed, too.)

3. They pursue legacy.

Fathers who are determined to be good dads are on a mission. They have a vision for their family and future generations, and often see themselves as changing the course of their family for generations to come. Even though they may have struggles from having a bad dad, they strive to set their children and their children’s children up for long-term success through their example. Dads who pursue legacy understand the difference between being around and being engaged. These dads are active. They are present. They are invested. And to the best of their ability, they aren’t willing to settle for the good when their children deserve the best.

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: The 3 Basics of Being a Good Mom.

Sound off: Regardless of what kind of dad you had, what is one area in which you can become a better dad to your kids?

This article originally appeared on and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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