Parenting Advice for Dads: 35 Time-Tested Lessons from Experience

Hey there, dads! Parenting is a journey like no other. Whether you’re a new dad or you’ve been at it for years, the adventure is ever-evolving. It’s a path filled with joy, challenges, and opportunities for growth. To help you navigate this incredible journey, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of parenting advice for dads and lessons from my own experience. These tips will guide you as you nurture and support your children, allowing them to grow into the best versions of themselves.

1. Be intentional in the younger years. The youngest years are crucial, yet many parents coast through them thinking they have more time to get it all right. Never underestimate the incalculable and foundational value of those early years.

2. Exercise consistency. Children need it. Parents often lack it. It takes discipline and teamwork as parents to make this happen, but consistency is king when it comes to parenting. Even when it’s tough, do what it takes to be consistent.

3. Live by example. “More than your children will become what you say, they will become who you are.” Because your children are simply mini versions of you. Whatever you are becoming, so are they.

4. Lavish them with love. Kids need unconditional love and acceptance, regardless of their behavior. Even when a child has done wrong or disappointed you, may they never question your love for them.

5. Give them time. Love is a four-letter word spelled T-I-M-E to a child. And nothing takes the place of time. Not money, not gifts, not freedom. They want you, which requires that you regularly spend quality time with them.

6. Pay attention and show affection. Kids love to be shown attention and affection by their parents. This includes more than just time, but your physical touch, words of affirmation, and gifts of love.

7. Honor their mother or father. The way you treat your spouse is quite possibly one of the most important things you can do for your children. Their little eyes are watching and learning how to live life from your example.

8. Admit when you’re wrong. Kids need to see lives lived that are honest and genuine. You don’t always have to be right because sometimes your child will learn more good from your mistakes than from you trying to cover them up. Be open, honest, and willing to say you are sorry when you’re wrong.

9. Remember it’s okay to ask for help. Many parents have already walked successfully the path you’re currently on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek out the wisdom and advice of others who have the voice of experience.

10. Time flies, don’t waste it. It’s so hard to believe we only have a few years left at home with our oldest. How is that possible? Didn’t we just bring him home from the hospital yesterday? Everyone who ever told you that time flies, and you didn’t believe them… you should have. Never underestimate the life-long value of how you spend the moments, days, and years you have while your kids are still living at home.

11. Praise, Praise, and more Praise. When I recently asked my son what makes him feel most loved, he said, “When you praise me for what I do right, not just notice when I do wrong.” Ouch. Kids need lots of praise and affirmation for doing things right. Whether positive or negative, you always get more of what you affirm.

12. Teach responsibility and work ethic. A child who understands the value of work will not only excel in it but will more likely become a responsible and hardworking adult. A child not given opportunities to earn what they have will be more likely to struggle with an attitude of entitlement.

13. Teach them the value of a dollar. Most money habits for life are formed when we are children, but those habits affect us (and our future families) for good or for bad for the rest of our lives.

14. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Kids will be kids. Be patient. Remember that they are still learning. There are some things that are not worth getting upset over as you keep the big picture in mind.

15. Admit mistakes. It would be foolish for me to claim my parents have been perfect. They aren’t. But when they make a mistake, they humbly admit it. And work to fix it.

16. Appreciate teachers. My mom worked a number of jobs while I was growing up ― including being a teacher. From her, I learned to appreciate the time, energy, commitment, and care that teachers show every day.

17. Assist your neighbor whenever possible. Everywhere I’ve lived, my parents knew our neighbors. More importantly, they recognized their needs and assisted when possible.

18. Be a good friend to find a good friend. Healthy friends cultivate healthy friendships. And my parents taught and modeled what it means to be a good friend to others.

19. Be content with little. There were numerous times growing up when money was tight. Nevertheless, my parents were content in it.

20. Be content with much. There were also times when the bank accounts were healthy. Even more impressive, my parents were content then as well.

21. Be humble. We have nothing to prove. But we have everything to offer.

22. Be open to criticism. We never stop learning, growing, and changing. My mother and father were always open to being challenged in new ways.

23. Be quick to help. If a need in the community was articulated, my parents were among the first to be there. They set a healthy example from the very beginning that life is not all about getting… it’s about giving.

24. Care about the right things. Our lives and resources are finite. And you just can’t care about everything. Seek to care about the right things.

advice for dad

25. Care for the fatherless. My parents provide, protect, and care for the orphan and the fatherless. And if there is a greater compliment to be given, I’m not sure what it is.

26. Celebrate holidays with family. Even when we lived far away from extended family, I always remember making it home for the holidays as a kid. And as an adult, I still do.

27. Choose the narrow path. Many will choose the broad, well-trodden path. My parents never did. Their values always dictated their decisions even when they were unpopular.

28. Come home for lunch. I distinctly remember my dad coming home from work each day for lunch―usually for a hot dog on bread with chips. Let me repeat that, I always remember my dad coming home from work for lunch.

29. Commit to your spouse. My parents have remained faithful to each other in every possible way for 40 years. I can’t thank them enough.

30. Compete but remain fair. Competition runs deep in our family. But so does fairness. And I’d hate to have the first without the second.

31. Concern your life with more than money. My mother and father always concerned themselves with greater pursuits than money.

32. Disagree humbly. Nobody gets it right every time. I’m glad I learned from them the importance of being able to disagree with genuine humility… sometimes I wish I learned this even more.

33. Discipline is a virtue. Self-discipline ought not be feared but nurtured.

34. Don’t fear change. My family moved a number of times while I was growing up (5-6 times before graduating high school). Through the experience and their example, my parents taught me never to fear it.

35. Don’t look for wealth in money. True wealth is never measured on a bank statement. And they never evaluated theirs by the number of zeros printed on it.

11 Bonus Pieces of Advice for Dads!

1. These Beings Have Their Own Minds, Wants, and Lives I used to think that once I had children, they would be like mini-mes or mini-Dads. I kept believing that for a little while because my first child and oldest daughter actually has a lot in common with me. It was easy to point to the character traits I loved and say, “she gets them from me,” and the less desirable ones, of course, I could say came from her Dad’s side. But a couple of kids in, I realized that they aren’t extensions of us. They are their own people and deserve to be treated as such.

2. No Two Kids Are the Same Along the lines of my first lesson, each of my kids is different. When my son came, and I realized he wasn’t like me or my husband… Then my third came, and she was even more different from the rest of us… I realized these are new people coming into this world with completely different personalities.

3. Parenting Isn’t as Easy as I Expected fatherhood is much harder than I had ever anticipated. I’m pretty sure in my dusty archives, there are some embarrassing posts about what I predicted fatherhood would be like, and boy is it different. A lot more exhausting and demanding. No matter what my kids’ ages are. If it ever gets easier, I’ll let you know. But as cliché as it sounds, it’s rewarding and worth it in ways I didn’t imagine too.

4. Choose Your Battles Wisely With so much on my plate, I quickly learned that choosing where to spend my energy was crucial. Trying to convince Lee Lee that extra frosting is not a good idea is a waste of time, but teaching my kids the importance of treating others (both in and out of the family) kindly is not.

5. There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Approach There are lots of ways to parent, and each person will have a different style and approach depending on the type of child. The divisiveness strikes early, striving to stick a wedge between fathers, but the truth is, no matter how I feed, diaper, school, or rest my child, being confident that it’s the right way for me and my family has been most important.

6. Avoiding the Overthinking Trap The Gift Of Failure is one of my favorite books to teach my kids (and myself) that it’s not only ok to fail, but it’s GOOD, it helps us grow and become resilient. This is how we can learn from these failures. As a parent, I’ve tried to protect my kids from the pain that comes with failing, but honestly, in our home, I’ve seen how it can do more harm than good. Seeing my kids bounce back after a failure is one of the most rewarding experiences as a father.

7. Trusting My Gut When I first suspected that our son was dyslexic, I was tempted to brush it aside. But my gut wouldn’t let me. As I watched him struggle to read, I knew that there was something more to what was happening, and I decided to seek help. After his diagnosis, he received the resources he needed to thrive even more.

8. I Am My Child’s First & Best Teacher Teaching our kids about life, diversity, and kindness toward others is so special and so important. No other person is in a better position to educate children on these matters, and I’ve accepted this as my responsibility.

9. Listening Is My Greatest Tool Being willing to listen – I mean really listen – to my children’s thoughts, opinions, and wants is something I thought would naturally come easily. At first, it kinda did, but as my kids got older, more vocal, and well, I have more of them now. It’s gotten more challenging. But the more I set time aside to spend some one-on-one time with a book, a chat, or prayer, the more I’m able to slow down and listen to the things on their mind. I feel lucky to have them share their hearts with me and I don’t want to lose that gift.

10. My Kids Are Some of My Biggest Motivators My kids inspire me every day. Whether that is working on my goals, trying something new, moving somewhere with more space to grow and explore (thanks, Lee Lee!) Seeing my kids strive to reach their goals makes me want to do the same, not only for them but for myself too!

11. I Didn’t Lose Myself. I Evolved Before I became a father, I worried it would change the parts of myself that I valued most. My drive, my ambition, and creativity. My life did change, but the things that make me, me still stand, and I’ve evolved. I’ve become more empathetic and patient, and my drive has blossomed. My ambitions didn’t go away, but they definitely shifted a lot. I think for the better. I’ve come to realize though that life happens in seasons.

Parenting is an adventure filled with countless lessons, and these are just a few of them. Embrace each moment, be open to growth, and cherish the journey. Your role as a dad is significant, and your love and guidance will shape the future of your children. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, but with patience, love, and a willingness to learn, you’re on the right path to being the best dad you can be. Here’s hoping some of advice serves you and your future well! Feel free to stop back and read more advice for dad articles in the future!