Becoming a parent isn’t something to take lightly. There’s lots to think about when baby fever hits: your career, living situation, and finances, to name a few — but what about the father?
Even if you’re totally head over heels for your man, it’s normal to wonder if he would be a good parent. While it’s difficult to know ahead of time what life will be like when your little one is here, there are a few things you can look for in your partner that will help you figure out if he’s who you want to raise your kids with.
We consulted relationship experts to find the top 6 qualities to look for in your partner that will help you figure out if he’s the one. “If you focus on what you know, (for example, that he is a responsible man who puts relationships first in his life) you will experience less anxiety and you will make decisions based on the information that is available to you now,” explains relationship counselor James Bauer. If you can say “yes” to all the items on this list, rest assured.
He Has a Sense of Humor
Having kids can be a real challenge when you can’t laugh at yourself and at them. Being a parent is a wonderful gift, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If he’s able to laugh off the little stuff, it makes it all a lot easier.
Being a goofball probably isn’t the first quality you’d think to look for in the man who will be the father of your kids, but the dad joke exists for a reason. A silly dad might embarrass your kids when they reach their teen years, but having someone to laugh with you when you both really want to cry instead makes all the difference.
This one is crucial. Patience really is a virtue once little ones are a part of your life. Kids require more of it than most of us ever need before we have them. And while it’s one thing to be able to stay calm during temper tantrums or a seemingly endless stream of questions, being able to keep a level head in the long term is really what seals the deal.
“Coming back, time and again, trying to be more effective, trying to do our best to help our kids grow and develop into successful adults, that’s steady perseverance,” says parenting coach Denise Rowden. Think about the things that are important to your partner now: his hobbies, career, or friendships. If he’s the type that sticks it out until the end, even when things are tough, he’ll probably do the same when it comes to your kids.
While oversleeping on the weekend or ditching plans to go party instead can make for an undeniably good time, if your guy is still living like he’s in the dorms, it might be worth giving his behavior a critical look. Fun dads are great, but so is knowing when to draw the line and get down to business.
If you decide to settle down and have kids, it’s important that your partner is ready to be a parent so you don’t end up doing double duty — taking care of him and the children.
He Knows When to Ask for Help
There’s a lot of pressure on men to be independent at all costs. Some guys don’t feel like they’re a “real man” unless they can do it all on their own. If your man isn’t afraid to ask for directions it can indicate that he’s got some qualities that will make him a great dad.
While it’s great to be able to be self-sufficient, there’s also something to be said of understanding the value of collaboration. A guy who can recognize that he’s not the very best at everything but knows where to go for help can be a great asset when you’re raising your kids. If he understands this crucial key to success, he’ll pass it on to your kids too. Being able to recognize and compensate for weaknesses is a sign of strength.
On the flip side, it’s also a great sign if he can hold his own when he knows he’s right. “In raising children I was often given advice by well-meaning people who were following ‘conventional wisdom’ but who didn’t really know my kids or much about the situation. Sometimes, if I had followed their misguided input, it would have been disastrous,” notes Dr. Daniel Seidman. In the end, it’s all about balance.
He Can Teach
Is your beau the king of explaining things? Then you’re in luck — that will come in handy when you two have kids. Children ask tons of questions all the time, and they expect answers on the spot.
Your man doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to be a great dad, but he does need to be able to clearly communicate his ideas. He also needs to be able to talk about tough topics with a level head. Kids depend on their parents to teach them what they need to know to be able to navigate the world confidently as adults.
Education isn’t just about school. “As we expand the definition of educating our children, we’re addressing principles that determine our kids’ lifestyle, character and well-being,” say the writers at Fathers.com. If your partner is a well-rounded person, chances are he’ll carry that over to your kids too.
He Wants Kids
While it’s totally okay to use your bargaining powers to persuade your partner when it comes to things like which movie to see, where to go for dinner, or even which car to buy, this is one decision where it’s best if you respect whatever answer he gives you. If your partner isn’t enthusiastic about having kids, trying to convince him otherwise likely won’t pay off.
If he does tell you that he wants kids, that’s a great sign. Even if he doesn’t have any experience with kids, the desire to be a dad is a great start to becoming one.
Guest Blog: Avery Phillips