How to Be a Successful Dad

Being a a successful dad is not easy.  But it is critical to your children, when they're small, as they grow and even as they become young adults.

You may even need to be a successful dad when your kids are well into their middle age.  I needed my dad the most when I was in my 40's in the years after I left my wife and was dealing with all the enormous issues she threw at me. So, I thank my dad every day for his love, care and guidance when I needed it most.

Your adult kids may need a strong dad to lean on if they find themselves in circumstances beyond their capacity to handle.  You can be a lifesaver.

A Successful Dad's Main Responsibility

As the father, it is your responsibility to ensure your children have an opportunity to thrive.

Here are the obvious things that a successful dad provides:

  • Financial support
  • Unconditional love
  • Kindness mixed in with a bit of toughness
  • Firmness on critical issues and flexibility where appropriate
  • A good role model on being happy and successful
  • Encouragement to be independent
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Care
  • Patience
  • Awareness and understanding of their needs
  • Encouragement of their unique talents
  • Observation of them to help guide them
  • Guidance in the form of stories and thinking about what would help them for the long term
  • All of the above tailored to the needs of each child

It would be great, if you and their mother can provide this as a team.   But often this is not the case. Some mothers seem to go out of their way to actively sabotage good parenting by over-mothering, smothering, overprotective, controlling, critical and being too harsh. Some mothers care more about keeping up appearances and the house than about the children.

She can be so hard on you that she drives you out of the house.  This is basically what happened to me as I discuss in my book - Leave Your Wife and Become a Happier Man.

Successful Dad Tips from Your Father

Obviously, use your dad as a model.  Both the good and bad.  Sometimes with the passage of time you can understand why your dad did some things right and some things wrong and you can adjust your fathering accordingly.

If there were specific things you wish your dad would have done or said to you at critical times, you can take the opportunity to do something different with your own kids.

I absolutely love my dad and miss him terribly now that he has died. He was loving, kind and gentle my whole life.  The help and guidance he provided after I left my wife was just incredible.  It was like I needed him more then, in my 40's than at any other time in my life.  And he delivered.  I doubt that I would be the extremely happier man I am today without him.

I feel bad that just as I had solved my biggest problems with his help, he died.  It was as if, now that I was OK, his work was done and he could go.

Massive Expenses Successful Dad's Have to Take On


A big house, with separate bedrooms for each child, with a good-sized yard to play in, near other good families, in a very safe area and in a great school system.  It should not be a surprise that houses like this are enormously expensive. 

But the cost is worth it.  You don't have the constant fear of crime.  You don't have to pay for private schooling.  Your children can enjoy the privacy of their own room, the joy of just going outside to play and the convenience of playing with other children nearby.


You will need big, safe, newer (i.e. expensive) vehicles for you and your wife.  You are both carrying around your precious children and it is too risky to drive little cars and too much hassle along with being dangerous to drive cars that need constant repairs.

Their Teeth

You will spend a ton of money on the children's teeth.  Dental visits, cavities, root canals, braces and wisdom teeth removal.  Budget thousands of dollars a year for all this.

Their Health

You will be massively spending on other health related concerns even if you have great health insurance.  Children get sick frequently and along with all the checkups and illness, they need to go to the doctor a lot.  From all this illness, they need a lot of medications, both prescription and over the counter.  They usually have some childhood surgeries too, such as tonsils being removed.  They may have a number of bumps, bruises and broken bones too.  The dad pays for all this, not them.

Their Future

Some of these costs include private schooling, extra-curricular activities,  higher education, weddings, down payments on homes, seed money for businesses and helping them after they get divorced.

Their Fun

There is no end to the amount of toys, games, sporting equipment and leisure activities that are available to children.  Expect to spend an enormous amount of money on this even if you go out of your way to minimize it.

Plus, children love getting presents at all the normal times and even...just because.  As a successful dad, I found giving my kids the gifts they wanted at Christmas to bring me lots of happiness as I talk about in this video...

Their Mother

Perhaps the biggest expense of them all is allowing their mother to not work to stay home to raise them.  In addition to the loss of money from her not working, she won't be contributing to her own retirement plan and her own social security, making your future together...if your marriage even last that long...much poorer. 

Plus, most modern women are addicted to shopping and use their free time between children type care to shop, both on-line and as part of her more free lifestyle.  Caring for children in the modern world is not that difficult.  It is mostly just keeping your eyes on them.  So, it is not unusual to see mothers with children of various ages wandering around stores filling their carts with stuff they don't need or ordering stuff on-line all day and all night.

It's better to keep her working even if the cost of the daycare is more than she makes to try to keep her shopping addiction under control.

All the above expenses are enormous.  It's easier to afford all this if you wait to have children until you are older as I get at this in this article - Key Traits of Happier Dads.

A Successful Dad Has to Spend a LOT of Money on Insurance

While you're raising your kids, a large chunk of the money you earn will go toward insurance that costs  a lot but does not increase the quality of your life.  Insurance just provides peace of mind against catastrophe, which is good, but it doesn't do much day to day.  

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Homeowner's insurance or renters insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance

These various insurances give you really nothing in return for the most part...until you need them, then they are extremely valuable.

What most fathers do is skimp on all these insurances, because of their enormous monthly premiums, to use what little money they have to pay the day to day living expenses and trying to minimally increase your day to day quality of life. 

I certainly did.  I had minimal life insurance back when my kids were small.  Now I have a large amount of life insurance for them, but they are already grown and paying their own bills, so it is not as critical.

Successful Dad's are Vigilant

It's your job to watch them and decide who should watch them when you're not available.  Too many parents delegate this to the wrong people and the children suffer.

Other ways to be vigilant include:

  • Ensuring they have a proper diet with plenty of meat and minimal junk food
  • Make sure they get plenty of exercise and sleep
  • Don't let them do stupid things
  • Be careful when you're working on things and they are nearby
  • Ensure their safety at all times
  • Provide good role models
  • Ensure their friends are good for them
  • Watch them

Very Misunderstood Ways to Be a Successful Dad

  • Ensure their mother remains a catch.  If you die, she may need a man to help raise your children.  Unless you have a multi-million dollar life insurance policy, she will need another man to pay the bills.
  • Ensure your children are fairly well-behaved, well-adjusted and easy to raise.  This is good for their mother, a future husband if you die and you.
  • Don't overdo things for them
  • Get your kids doing for themselves
  • Don't spoil them
  • Encourage them to get part-time jobs as teenagers and show them how to be frugal and create some savings
  • Help to guide them to find good work as young adults.  This usually takes the form of college, technical schools, the military or apprenticeships.  Something they are good at, they enjoy, decent co-workers, that pays the bills with some surplus, that is not overly difficult, with some security and that is needed by society.
  • You will have to restrict yourself.  When you are a dad, usually you cannot just do what you'd like most of the time.
  • Your kids will do things you don't like and you will just have to be patient with all this and accept them.
  • You may have to leave their mother for them to have a chance at a good life.

Successful Dad's Continue to Guide their Kids even as they get older

The 20's are a critical time period for your kids.  I made some great decisions in my late teenage years.  But then I made some major mistakes in my 20's and I wish someone would have provided me a bit of helpful guidance at that critical time. 

I lived a long way from my parents so it was very difficult to see them very often.  This was before cell phones, so keeping in touch was a very expensive long distance call.  I was super busy and my parents were super busy taking care of my brother, sister and all the older relatives.

I talk about how I stay involved in my kids lives and and try to provide as much guidance as I can in this video.

Another good way to communicate with your teenage through 20something kids is to take them out for coffee.

The point of the coffee is not the coffee, it is the talk.

I love having coffee with my kids.  It's difficult to talk at length at home.  There are too many distractions.  When you go out for coffee, the whole reason is to talk.

Me at the coffee shop. My daughter took the picture

A huge tip for you is to go to where your kids are.  Young people in college and their 20's rarely have large chunks of free time. 

Are You Ready to be a Successful Dad?

It's easier to become a successful dad with a lot of money in the bank, earn a lot of money every year and have had enough experiences in your life that you feel content with that and can devote the next large portion of your life to raising your children.

Give my video describing the rule of 100 some thought.

Here is the summary of how to get your life on track with the rule of 100 before you have children:

  1. Accumulate $100,000 in liquid savings (cash, savings accounts, money market, or something stable).  This isn't for retirement, a house, cars or fun.  This is so you can have a big safety net for whatever happens while you are raising your kids.
  2. Earn a gross income of $100,000 (or more).  You need a ton of money to pay for a great quality of life for your kids, and you.  The $75,000 happiness income is just for one person.  The $100,000 in savings is for just in case, not day to day needs.  Day to day needs are much easier to handle with a large income every year.
  3. Have 100 experiences.  You would actively write down what you have done so far and what you would like to do.  This is for creating your big memory bank to sustain you during difficult times and at the end of your life.  Your child may need your constant care for the rest of your life and you may never have the  time and resources to do more than care for them.

You Can Be a Successful Dad Even if You're Divorced

I am extremely proud of my kids and what we all went through.  I feel like an extremely successful dad.  Here is an excerpt from Chapter 15 my book - Leave Your Wife and Become a Happier Man with the 3 Step System where I write about the time after I left my wife and some of the key parts of caring for my kids after the divorce.

You Can Be a Better Father        

Show your kids what a happy adult life looks like.  Teach them that they are not defined as a person or a parent by whether they are married or not.  When they see you and talk to you, you can be the wonderful person that you are. 

You do not need to live with your children to take care of them or enjoy them...

Even though I did not see them that much in the early years after the divorce, I saw them often enough that they knew I was their dad and that they could rely on me to stay in their lives...

But after the divorce...I started to become a happier man... And as I became happier they saw that in me.

I loved my children and treated them with as much kindness, patience and respect as possible even under the strain of dealing with their mother, my ex-wife.

I made it as fun as I could with them.  I was easygoing and humorous rather than a hen pecked old man who is grumpy to his kids and unable to give them any love and kindness.

...I did not see them every day but the times I did see them was so sweet and we all got so much out of our time together.  They saw a happy, loving father when they saw me...

In the first 3 years after I left, I lived in an apartment close to the kids.  I usually saw them every week for a little while.  They knew I was there for them...

I was the father in the background.  I came over to help with the homework.  I gladly paid all the court ordered child support and maintenance, I never complained about this.  Plus, I provided whatever other money I could and forced myself into their lives, in spite of their mother trying to keep me out.

For whatever reasons, because the reasons don’t matter, their mother could not bring herself to be a good mother to our precious children...

My kids have never been better.  They have thrived without their mother in their life.  They choose to see her at their convenience and for very short periods of time...

Successful Dad Wrap-Up

Being a successful dad is a very difficult and demanding responsibility.  It is critical to the quality of your children's lives while they are small and even more to their ability to thrive as adults.

Please take this responsibility seriously and enjoy your children.

› Successful Dad

The only way I could become the happier man I am today was by leaving my wife.  You might be in the same situation I was in.  I suggest you take a look at my book - Leave Your Wife & Become a Happier Man with the 3 Step System.

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