When my wife takes our two kids to the grocery store, people look at her and think: “There’s a mom doing her job.”

When I take our kids to the grocery store, people hand me gifts and erupt in songs of praise around me: “What kind of angelic man is this who takes care of his own children??” 

It’s not fair to moms, plain and simple. But what I’m talking about here is not this backwards way of thinking – that a dad who does anything is basically a hero. No, I’m talking about the dad who goes out of his way to put his family first, who does everything he can to make his wife feel loved and supported, and who sees himself as an equal parent when it comes to raising and loving his kids. 

Awesome dads make the world a better place and we need more of them. If your husband, dad, or friend is really nailing being a dad, tell him so. Us dads not only need help figuring out specifically what we’re doing that works, we also need to hear that we’re doing it well.

Here are 10 things every awesome dad does:

1 | He tells his wife and daughters that they’re beautiful.

I don’t fully understand it, but there is something special, almost holy, about a husband telling his wife, and a dad telling his daughter, that she is beautiful. Awesome dads understand this and are intentional about constantly sending this message. 

2 | He sets up time for his wife to be “off duty.” 

The first half of Saturday is my wife’s time. She’s had to deal with a three-year-old and an 18-month-old for five days straight while I got to do things like go to the bathroom by myself and sit in a chair for a while. Awesome dads understand how tiring kids can be and intentionally set up “off duty” times for mom.

3 | He doesn’t “help with” chores – he does them.

My 18-month-old daughter ate a PB&J sandwich yesterday and by that, I mean she ground it into about 6,000 pieces and smashed the crumbs into her hair, clothes, and on the floor all around her. My wife didn’t ask me to clean it up. I saw the mess and simply cleaned it up. Awesome dads understand they are members of the household and, as such, are equally responsible for keeping things clean(ish).

4 | He is emotionally in-tune with himself.

A dad who can express love, talk deeply, genuinely apologize, empathize, and know when and why he’s feeling a certain way is a huge, huge advantage to his family. Emotionally in-tune dads are awesome dads, period.

5 | He disciplines his kids without being told to.

The other day, my son stole a toy car right out of the hands of my daughter and I was standing right there to watch it. What did I do? I did absolutely nothing. My wife had to come over and enforce a consequence. You see, this is one of those times where I screwed up. Every other time this happens (well, a lot of the time), I’m right in the thick of it enforcing consequences. Awesome dads understand that if they don’t discipline now, their kids will turn into hellions later.

6 | He romances his wife.

Date nights, pointed compliments, affectionate touches… An awesome dad understands that one of the best things he can do for his kids is to make his wife the priority.

7 | He plays hard with his kids. 

I have a good friend who repaired an old busted kite he found at the beach using rubber bands and an crab leg or something. I helped him “launch” it and as he ran down the beach with the kite bouncing off the sand, it struck me that this dude was dadding right. Yes, the kite was a total bust, but he nailed his true goal which was to make his whole family (and mine) laugh. Awesome dads understand how meaningful playtime with dad is and, because of this, put forward the extra energy required to make it happen. 

8 | He provides stability when life is uncertain.

Sometimes things get hard: money, health issues, etc. Awesome dads understand the value in having a “we’re going to get through this” mentality for their family.

9 | He wakes up at night to help with the baby. 

Awesome dads share the burden of having to wake up in the middle of the night. 

10 | He prioritizes family over work.

Work is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for dads. We traditionally have seen ourselves as the provider and, sometimes, we use this role to justify spending too much time at the office. Awesome dads can be hard workers, excel at what they do, and even work a lot of hours for periods of time; however, they are intentional about putting their families first both in mindset and in time prioritization.