Vintage Father and Son

29 Big-League Skills Every Father Should Know

In Fatherhood, Mad Dad Skillz by The Unexpected Dad2 Comments

You’re a father, which means you’re in the big-leagues now!  What skills should every father know?  Being a father is an ongoing process of trial and error, and children will keep you on your toes.  So what does it take? What does a dad need to know?  There are of course some basic and mandatory things that a dad, at any stage in their career as a father, must know.  How to support your family, how to keep them safe, etc.

There are other skills that are helpful for a dad to know that are “secondary” but still worth knowing.  Check out this list and let me know what you think.

  1. Tell a story – This is not the same as reading a story from a book. It’s making up a story as you go, and it’s harder than it sounds. Start simple with a few characters and build on it slowly, but keep it interesting.
  2. Make pancakes – Pancakes are a Saturday morning tradition.  Mixing the batter is fairly simple, but getting the correct temperature on the skillet, the timing and flipping takes a little practice. Learn how to make great Pancakes, it’s a Dad thing to do.
  3. Cook a “signature” dish – It doesn’t have to be complicated, but a dad should have a dish that he can cook well on a consistent basis. Need some ideas? There are several on this site.
  4. Pray with your children – Praying with your child is different than praying with other adults or praying by yourself.  You have to make it relevant and age appropriate, yet still be glorifying to God.  It takes some practice and seems to be a moving target but is a very worthwhile skill to develop.
  5. Encourage your children – Sometimes encouragement in the smallest part of your child’s life goes a long way.   The challenge is recognizing something that is important to a child, even though it may seem small to us.
  6. Mediate family arguments – It goes without saying that there will be disagreements between two or more members of your family.  The best thing for you to do as the father it to stay neutral and try to resolve the dispute.
  7. Cook on a grill – Regular readers will note that I think that dads should know how to cook a couple items.  Grilling should be part of the dad’s cooking tool kit. If you don’t already have a grill, get one.  Grilling on a summer evening is a great way to spend some family time.
  8. Set up a tent – Not really the outdoor type? No matter, you should still know how to set up a tent, if nothing else because at some point your kid will want to “camp out” in your back yard.
  9. “Do” your daughter’s hair (pony tails, pig tails, etc.) – With a daughter there are a whole new and different set of skills that need to be learned.  One of them is learning how to do various things with a girl’s hair.  I still don’t have the hang of doing a decent pony tail, but I’m getting closer.
  10. Drive in the snow – Even if you don’t live in an area prone to snowfall, every dad should still know this crucial skill.  You never know when you will be travelling where there could be snow, and you should know how to handle your vehicle in inclement weather.
  11. Check tire pressure and fill – The proper tire pressure for you car is important for handling and fuel efficiency, but more importantly is crucial for your family’s safety.  Check the tire pressure on all your cars once a month and fill as necessary.
  12. Throw a football – Impress your kids with the perfect spiral and your older children will love playing catch with you.
  13. Put toys together – We gave my daughter a play kitchen set for Christmas and putting it together was not easy. The instructions were terrible and the parts were not labeled. This is a special skill!
  14. Fix a bike – I honestly don’t know how to do this, but it seems like a good idea.  Any tips or how-to’s?
  15. Set up wireless network in your home – You don’t have to be terribly technical to do this, but if you lack any technical expertise it’ll take a small amount of research on your part.
  16. Read a book out loud in a dramatic manner – When you child wants you to read a book out loud, it’s easy to just flip the pages and read the words.  But it’s more fun, for both you and your kid, to read it more like a play.  Use voice inflection, gestures and even different voices for the various characters.  Try switching up your approach every time you read out loud to your child and see how much fun you can have!
  17. Cook bacon – Bacon is awesome.  Learn how to cook it.
  18. Play at least one song on guitar – Although it takes a little practice, playing some basic chords on a guitar is easier than you think.  Learn a simple children’s song, then perform it for your child.  Who knows, maybe you’ll end up the next guitar super star.
  19. Be patient – It can be easy to lose your cool when a child is being unreasonable, no matter what the age.  I think for most people, patience is not something that comes naturally, but is essential in parenting.  It takes intent and practice.  Start practicing.
  20. Comfort a sick child – Nothing is more heart-breaking that a feeling of helplessness when your child is sick.  You want to take the pain and discomfort away, but you can’t.  What you can do is be comforting and empathetic.
  21. Clean up after a sick child  – Not much more needs to be said about this.
  22. Mow the lawn – I remember my dad mowing the lawn on Saturday afternoons (until I was old enough to take over) and it always seemed like one of the quintessential dad activities. I actually enjoy mowing the lawn, it gives me some “alone time”.
  23. Build a camp fire – Another one where you may not be the outdoor type, but a good skill to have nonetheless.  Plus it’s just a cool manly skill.
  24. Take a good picture – I know it’s popular now to use the camera on your phone to snap quick pictures, but even the best camera on the best phone can’t compare to an  actual camera.  Buy a decent point-and-shoot or even better, a DSLR.  Learn how to use it and take some awesome pictures.  I can guarantee that you’ll be much happier with the results than on your (lame) phone camera, and you will treasure the photos for years to come.
  25. Manage family finances – This is an important one that can be difficult to master.  I won’t go into much detail here, but I will say: Debt bad, savings good.  Don’t take out loans for purchases (yes, that includes your car), and sock away as much money as you can.
  26. Say goodbye – For the last 6 years I’ve been working from home and had been able to see my daughter pretty much any time I wanted during the day. Not anymore.  I recently got a new job where I have to go into the office. It is rough saying goodbye to my daughter and not see her all day. Difficult skill to pick up. Any Advice?
  27. Perform basic car maintenance – This is a skill that I am not naturally good at, and to be honest I don’t like working on cars.  However it’s good to know the basics of how to maintain you main mode of transportation.
  28. Use basic hand tools – This obviously includes hammer, screwdriver, pliers, hand saw, etc.  As a dad, you will need to be fixing things around the house as well as project type work.
  29. Use basic power tools – Drill, circular saw, “chop” saw, sander.  For some more heavy duty repair and project work.  Plus power tools are just cool. Don’t forget eye and ear protection.

Any other manly dad skills you have that you would like to share?  Post them in the comments section, I would love to hear from you!

The Unexpected Dad

The Unexpected Dad

My name is Paul and I am The Unexpected Dad.My wife and I married late in life and we didn’t really expect to have children (thus the title of my blog). We weren’t opposed to the idea of having children, but just assumed that it was not in the cards for us.

I write about the rather unexpected journey of fatherhood, please join me!

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  1. Christopher Wade

    Paul, I love the list. Story telling is definitely at the top. Princesses, dragons, castles, far off places, these kind of stories hold both my daughter’s attention for as long as I can make up new scenarios.

    Saying goodbye… that is a hard one. I have been blessed to work from home and take care of my girls; however, my wife does work outside of the home. It is hard for her to tell the girls goodbye every morning. We do try to meet my wife for lunch sometimes which helps the girls cope with the separation.

    Thanks for the article!

    1. The Unexpected Dad Author
      The Unexpected Dad

      Thanks Christopher, I’m glad you like the article. I’m still trying to perfect the story telling; it’s harder than it seems like it should be. But it’s always fun to come up with something new and my daughter seems to enjoy the stories!

      Thank you for your comment.


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