The Changing Role of Fathers

the changing role of fathers

“It is much easier to become a father than to be one.”

Kent Nerburn

 I have, of late, been reviewing my role as a single father of two young men ages 19 and 14. I realize that it is my most important role in my life but I question at times the effort I put forth; could I do better?

Funny, how we may feel being there is good enough. Our bad habits in view, our faults seen at their worst, but God willingly you just keep moving forward.  What we should try as fathers is to realize we make mistakes. It’s all right to have faults, we’re human, move forward.

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in your children?

I do not mean when someone said, boy he/she really looks like you, I mean when aspects of your child’s behavior mirrors yours.

I have been a Michigan State sports fan for many years and when my son Eric was young, he started to follow MSU with a passion. I catch him after he was supposed to be in bed crawling on his belly in the upstairs hallway to get to my office or seeing a flick of a TV light from my office with him quietly moaning over a missed shot or a subdued yeah when they make one.

I can only laugh and see myself doing the same. What I begin to realize is how important my example as a father is to the boys. I question, am I being the best example of behavior?

Does he follow my lead when I show bad examples of selfish, narrow behavior? I would be dreaming if I thought he would only follow good behavior, but I am not perfect. My bad side shows. Sure, we will make mistakes but be honest enough to admit the mistakes and have both of you learn.

Tips for Being a Dad

 In a recent post written by Leo Babauta in Zen Habits: Breathe called “How to be a Great Dad” he shares 12 tips to be a great father:

  •  Put their interests first, always: still important to take care of yourself (otherwise you can’t take care of them), but you should still have them in mind.
  • Protect them. As a dad, one of your main roles is protector.
  • Spend your spare time with them.
  • The thing kids want most from their dads is their time.
  • Give them hugs. Dads shouldn’t be afraid to show affection.
  • Play with them.
  • Do the “mom” stuff. You should leap at the chance to do these things, because that’s how you start a life-long close relationship with your child.
  • Read to them. This is one of the most important things you can do for your child.
  • Stand by mom: work as a team — never contradicting statements of the other.
  • Teach them self-esteem: Praise and encourage, don’t reprimand and discourage.
  • Teach them about finances: You don’t want your child to go into the world knowing as little as you did, do you?
  • Be good to yourself. You shouldn’t give up your entire life when you become a dad. You need to take care of yourself, give yourself some alone time, and some time with your buddies in order to be a great dad when you’re with your kids.
  • Be good to the mom: Because when mom’s happy, the kids are happy. And dad will be happy too!


 Single parenting has, in the past, been left to the domain of the mother. Times have changed. Men are more than sperm donors. Courts have been more open in divorce proceedings that possibly children may be better off with their father.

In a perfect world, we would have children grow up under the guidance of both parents playing the role of the loving nourishing parents. Today’s world of short term marriages and astronomical divorce rates has left us with more children being raised in divorced families than not.

The role of the father whether alone or in a unit role has evolved and is based in the simple premise: what I say and do matters enormously and it does affect the ones I am raising.

What becomes most important is not what we buy them but the attitudes we share with them.






The Changing Role of Fathers

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in northern Michigan who has a passion for reading, writing, music and helping others. He specializes in counseling complex family situations, substance abuse, and parenting. Steve’s counseling philosophy is holistic, approaching each issue on its own merit and evaluating influences to help overcome life’s dilemmas.


APA Reference
Greenman, S. (2016). The Changing Role of Fathers. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 May 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 May 2016
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