Seriously. Let's stop perpetuating that stereotype.
It's been ten years since I married my husband (and we found out he was autistic), and one thing I will forever cherish is the kind of father he has been to our girls. So what exactly makes a man a good father to his children? What sets a good father apart from the rest?
1. He isn't the babysitter.
When your babydaddy sends you out to lunch with girlfriends and stays at home with the kids, or when he takes his turn wrangling them in a social situation, he isn't babysitting — he's parenting. He takes pride in his role as father.
He knows the kids' quirks, preferences, dislikes and strengths, and he uses this intimate knowledge accordingly. He knows his children and he's able to be there for them and hold down the fort when you're not around. When you're out, he doesn't falter and text message-bombard you with questions.
He's got this in hand; he knows what he's doing. And even if he doesn't, he's willing to wing it until he works it out. This isn't a game to him or some novelty — this is real life. He takes his role in their lives seriously and he realizes this is the most important role of his life.
2. He gets up at night, too.
Sure, he can't breastfeed. And he may not always have the mommy touch. But when one of his children wakes in the night, is sick or just restless, he's up out of bed doing his best to settle them. He realizes that true parenthood doesn't have a "clock off" time and he loves being there for his babies.
He relishes them needing him when they do. It's common knowledge to him that being a parent is a team-effort and even though he may have to peel himself out of bed or off the floor the next day to work, he still does it. And he doesn't complain about it or make you feel bad, either.
3. He does ponytails, dress-up, and plays superheroes.
A real father doesn't get put off when his daughters ask them to do his hair; in fact, he probably does it neater than you do. He's not adverse to having his toenails painted too, or dressing up and having pretend tea parties and make-believe ballet concerts.
When his son wants him to be a superhero, he dons the costume and gets involved. He realizes that childhood innocence is fleeting and memories last a lifetime. He knows his children will remember these moments and love having him be part of their world.
4. He loves and respects his wife, and treats her like a goddess.
Children learn to expect what they see modeled to them in their lives. If they see arguing, name-calling, entitlement and disrespect, that's what they learn to accept or expect. A good father openly loves his wife or partner. He pays her compliments and goes out of his way to make small gestures of appreciation to her: that daily morning coffee and toasted sandwich, or allowing her to sleep in whenever he can.
He treats her kindly and respectfully at all times. He knows his children are watching, and he doesn't want his children to settle for anything less than the best kind of treatment from their spouses. He knows that the buck stops with him.
5. He apologizes when he messes up.
Parents can't always be on the ball with everything all the time and it's inevitable that he will make mistakes. Any type of father might lose his temper sometimes, or have unrealistic high expectations, or perhaps miss an important date. But what makes a good father is a man who realizes when he has wronged his child and apologizes openly.
He knows that in order to receive genuine apologies from his children, he needs to model it, too. He realizes that he needs to walk the walk and talk the talk, and that it's not OK to expect one thing from his children but do another.
Being a good dad requires patience, selflessness and a correct set of priorities. Crappy dads can learn to become good dads, but only if they decide to themselves, not because you want them to.