As parents, we spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of person our kids will grow up to be. And if they choose to become a parent, the kind of parent they will be. With two sons, I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of fathers I hope my children will be, should they become parents. (One of them is adamant that he won’t have children, the other one wants to have seven children.)

I want them to be kind and patient. 

I want them to see their children for who they truly are, not who they expected they would be. 

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I want them to be engaged fathers—the kind of dad who doesn't say “ask your mother”, but the kind who handles things. 

I want them to be the kind of dad who is involved in the daily grind of parenthood. 

I want them to fight the patriarchy at every turn and to show their kids that being a man doesn’t mean perpetuating that “toxic masculinity” nonsense. 

You’re showing them what it means to be a supportive partner. That being a great dad means loving well. And you have loved me so well.

I want them to show their kids that emotions aren’t something to fear or hide and that it’s okay to cry.

I want them to show their children what it means to love well, what it means to have a healthy relationship built on trust, respect and friendship.

In other words, I want them to be like you.

You’re showing them what it means to be a supportive partner. That being a good dad means loving well. And you have loved me so well.

I see the way you listen intently to their stories (which sometimes go on longer than expected). I see the way you patiently sit at the table when they struggle through homework challenges. I see how you notice the “little things”, like remembering to buy their favorite cereal at the grocery store and asking them how their math test went after school.

Rather than perpetuating toxic masculinity, you fight it at every chance. You show our boys that it’s okay to cry. You teach them about respectful affection. You help them understand their emotions and talk about your own with them. 

Most importantly, you have shown our children how much joy you get from being their dad. You say “I love you” often—because it's impossible to say it too much. You laugh with them and delight in sharing their joys with them. You soak them in. 

I hope they have the confidence to parent with grace, kindness, and joy, supported by a strong foundation of what it means to be a great dad.

Related: 4 parenting lessons I learned from my awesome dad 

You have shown them that being their father has been the greatest joy of your life, that it has been an absolute pleasure to raise them, and that being their dad means you are truly living your best life.

Sure, we moan about all the photos and videos you take, but I’ll never wish that you’d taken more photos of me with our kids and their childhood will be documented not with real photos that celebrate the everyday joys of our lives together. 

I want our kids to be the people they are meant to be, in all of their uniqueness and individuality. And if they should become parents someday, I know they will parent in their own ways. And I hope they have the confidence to parent with grace, kindness, and joy, supported by a strong foundation of what it means to be a great dad.

After all, they learned from the best.