What does it means to be a dad? I mean uniquely a dad, as opposed to being a parent. In today's modern society, moms and dads generally share parenting tasks equitably; but what makes dad distinct?
The answer is going to depend on the dad, but for me it comes down to two words: wrestling and romance.
My wife is an amazing and talented woman, but when it comes to wrestling with our 3 boys, I'm the clear winner. Early on, she tentatively decided to engage in a light-sabre battle with our oldest son. Clutching the plastic sword she cautiously said: "I'm ready." Our son began by taking a swipe at her legs, which lowered her guard to block the attack. Seizing the opportunity, he went high and whacked her in the head before she knew what was going on.
So, in our house, roughhousing is my domain. Even better, research has show that wrestling with dad is good for kids: when I'm pinned to the ground, with one kid sitting on my head, I'm actually contributing positively to their development.
I take my position as the family Luchador very, very seriously. After one-too-many wrestling sessions ended with holes in the drywall, we constructed the "octagon" in our basement. We will literally spend hours of time in there, always 3-against-1, and won't stop until we're exhausted.
In addition to 3 boys, we have a beautiful daughter. She also happens to be our oldest. And while she will occasionally engage in a little roughousing, she prefers a completely different approach from me: romance. By this, I mean she likes being treated like a princess, going on dates, and having my undivided attention.
Essentially, as her dad, I can show her how a gentleman would treat her. When we go shopping together, we hold hands. She might pull a hat of the rack and model it to me. At a restaurant we get a nice seat at the window, sit across from each other, and I just listen.
I'm hoping that our dates can continue until she starts dating other boys (preferably when she turns 35). By that time, I'm hoping she'll have a high standard for who she lets hold her hand.
These are two of my most vivid memories from my childhood: wrestling with my dad on the living room floor, and having my mom come and pick me up at school to take me out for lunch.
So for me, there are two keys to being a good dad: working with my wife in being the best parents we can be, and creating lasting memories with my kids.