What Makes a Great Dad? According to Teens It’s the Little Things That Matter Most

Just being there, Dad, that's what your kids love about you...

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: What Makes a Great Dad? According to Teens, It’s the Little Things That Matter Most

My three kids and I were brainstorming what to get their Dad for Father’s Day. During our conversation, my youngest said, “We should make a list of all the things we love about Dad!”

Interestingly, when they were coming up with things to add to their list, they didn’t bring up the crazy expensive vacations he took our family on. They didn’t talk about the fact that he (we) are putting away money for their college education to prepare them for their future. And, they didn’t mention how he painstakingly searched high and low for a good used car for my oldest so she could get to school.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my kids are grateful and appreciative for all these things, but what seemed to matter more to them was him just being part of their lives day in and day out.

Their honest and enlightening list of what they loved about their Dad, sparked me to reach out to my friends who have teens and even teens I’m close with to get their take. 

What Makes a Great Dad? According to Teens, It’s the Little Things That Matter Most


Of course, not all of these apply to every Dad. But, Dads… if you’re wondering what makes a great Dad (according to a lot of teenagers), it’s the little things that matter most.

It turns out the key to fatherhood is just being there…

1. You show up at your kids’ games, recitals, performances, play-offs, and tournaments. (They may not admit it, but no matter how old they are, they’ll still look for you in the stands/bleachers.)

2. You’re the great equalizer when Mom loses her sh#t. (“Hey kids.. time to run for cover!”)

3. You tell the best stories! (Even though you DO repeat yourself 20 times).

4. Your Dad jokes are corny and your sense of humor is a little quirky, but guess what… it might be the one thing your kids are gonna miss about you the most.

5. When you sneeze. (They’ll be talking about your loud sneezes long after you’re gone, Dad.)

6. You’re always willing to dish out a few bucks for gas, the drive-thru, or a pizza. 

7. When your kids are having the worst day ever, you always stand ready with a silly joke or inspirational words of wisdom that make them smile. 

8. You’re good at keeping secrets from Mom (“Dad, I cheated on that test last week.” DAD: “Umm… let’s keep that one between us or you’ll get a two-hour lecture from Mom.”)

9. You’re always up for a fun adventure. Wanna ride the tallest roller coaster? SURE! Wanna go ziplining? SURE!

10. You cook a mean burger on the grill.

11. You’re the king of useless information. 

12. You’re always your kids’ biggest fan and cheerleader. (Trust me… they notice, Dad.)

13. Whether it’s teaching them how to throw a curveball, giving them pointers for their upcoming soccer game, or how to swing a golf club, you’re not only their sports coach, you’re their life coach. 

14. You’re great at teaching your kids how to drive (much better than Mom who gasps every two minutes).

15. Your honesty and integrity show in everything you do. You’re a powerful example.

16. You know the meaning of a hard-earned dollar and you’re passing along that work ethic to your kids.

17. You put family first. Sure, work gets in the way, at times, but when you can, you always show up. 

18. You teach your kids important skills – from how to ride a bike and how to change a tire to the basics of investing and the importance of a firm handshake.

19. You make the yard look good. (Even though you ARE a little obsessed with the lawn.)

20. You’re always up to watch a good action or thriller movie with your kids. (You leave the rom-coms for Mom.)

21. You’re the first one your kids call when they get in a fender bender or the car needs servicing. Your level-headedness is JUST what they need. “Dad, they said I need a new air filter. Do I?”

22. By treating your daughter(s) with kindness and respect, you’re teaching her what she should expect in future relationships.

23. By treating Mom with love, kindness, and respect, you’re teaching your son(s) how to treat their future spouse. 

24. Your strong moral and ethical character is a powerful example for your kids. 

25. You give the BEST Dad hugs ever. 

26. You might have bad days. You might feel weak or uncertain at times. But to your kids, you’re a pillar of strength, Dad. 

27. You love hanging out with your kids – whether it’s a day at the beach or a quick errand to Costco, you never turn down time with your kids.

28. You’re a strong shoulder to cry on when life gets hard. You don’t even have to say a word. Just being there comforts your kids.

29. You’re a really good delegator. “Hey, Mom wants you to unload the dishwasher.” But DAD, I heard Mom ask YOU to unload the dishwasher.

30. You’re always encouraging your kids to push forward, to try their best, and not let the fear of failure get in their way. You want their dreams to come true even more than they do. 

31. You’re teaching your son how to be respectful when dating and the value of being a gentleman. (You’ve learned from experience that manners will never go out of style.)

32. You have your own funny way of doing things. It’s not Mom’s way… it’s your way. And, your kids love it!

33. You’re fun to shop with because you buy stuff you don’t need. “Oh, look Costco has a 110-inch TV on sale!”  But Dad, we don’t have room for it. “We’ll make room!”

34. No matter what. You ALWAYS have your kids’ back.

35. You’re the go-to guy when it comes to fixing techy stuff – from computers to phones, you always figure it out.

36. When you laugh hard, it makes your kids laugh hard. They LOVE hearing you laugh. 

37. You’re strict when you need to be. But you’re also fair. And, that makes your kids respect you.

38. You’re teaching your kids that there’s no such thing as a “man’s job” or a “woman’s job.” You’re a family and you work together as a team to keep up with chores and life.

39. You’re silly (and a little awkward with your Dad socks). And, even though your kids tease you, they secretly love it. 

40. No matter where your kids are, what time of night it is, or how far away they are, you’ll drive all night if you have to just to bring them home safely.

41. When some guy dumps your daughter or a girl breaks your son’s heart, you’re there with a listening ear, wise advice, and a few encouraging words they need to hear.

42. In your own way, you let your kids know it’s okay to take that next step in life. You make sure they know, “I’ll never let go…”

43. When your kids need to move into their dorm or new apartment, you’re there ready to help with the heavy lifting. (You leave the organizing up to Mom.)

44. You’ll sit on the couch with your kids and watch silly TikTok videos because you know the small moments with your kids matter.

45. You put a high priority on family time and family togetherness.

46. You have a special way of making your kids feel safe and secure and it gives them the confidence they need to become more independent.

47. You’re teaching your kids how to take risks in life and that nothing worthwhile in life will ever come easy.

48. You’re teaching your kids important “guy stuff,” like how to shoot a gun, how to fish, car maintenance, and how to camp in the wilderness. (Yep… your girls, too.)

49. When Mom’s mad, your humor always lightens things up. (Even though it pisses Mom off.)

50.  You’re quick to pass out compliments, praise, and high-fives. 

51. You LOVE your kids. It shows in your face, your words, and your actions. 

Oh, Dads… you’re SO much more important than you realize! Happy Father’s Day!

If you enjoyed reading, “What Makes a Great Dad? According to Teens It’s the Little Things That Matter Most,” here are a few other posts you might like!

Dads, Here’s Why Your Teen Daughter Needs You Now More Than Ever

Dads, Do These 10 Things to Raise Confident, Strong-Minded Daughters

10 Funny Things You Start Doing When Your Kids Become Teenagers

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