Being a dad can be tough. It’s hard—there are a lot of wants and needs, a lot of “Dad can I . . .” or “Dad will you do . . .”

On top of that, we are already underestimated as caregivers to our children. As a father to daughters, I’ve lost count of the times others are surprised at my ability to do hair, but then occasionally you’ll also encounter the woman somewhere trying to be funny and commenting on seeing you in public with the kids alone with something along the lines of, “Oh, hanging out with dad today, huh?” as if it’s a rarity or you’re incapable. I am quite capable of venturing out with my daughters alone.

I generally laugh it off but if you stop to think about it, we are underestimated as caregivers to our children. Like we can’t handle it.

Guess what, we can and we have to!

It’s not about us taking on traditionally female roles or even about being shamed or the subject of chuckles or jokes in public. It’s about something much more important than that—our kids.

Having fathers who are involved in their lives is one of the most important things children can have. Studies have shown that children whose fathers are highly involved in their children’s lives in a positive way do better in school, have less emotional and psychological problems, do better in the job market, and have less substance abuse issues.

Being there for our kids is more important than any of us realize. Not only being there as a financial supporter or a protector—but most importantly, as a role model.

The relationships we have with our children are going to affect them for the rest of their lives . . . the rest of their lives. No pressure, right?! The way they interact with others, including friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, employers, and spouses depends on how they see us, their fathers, interact with others.

When it comes time for our dear daughters to start dating (I know, a nightmare for all of us, right?!) they are going to look for men who are like us. If we are kind, gentle, loving, understanding, and protectors, they are going to look for those same characteristics in men. They have experienced those traits from us their whole lives and it is what they are comfortable with so they will end up with men who exhibit those same traits.

Sons, on the other hand, will try to be just like us—and some of you already have experienced this. My time is coming shortly. They will seek our approval in everything they do and copy those behaviors that they see us do. Again, just like girls, they have experienced our behaviors their whole lives and are comfortable with them so they will be the ones they exhibit. If a dad is abusive, controlling, and dominating then our sons will imitate those behaviors. But if a dad is loving, caring, supportive, protective then these are the characteristics that sons will imitate.

So what it comes down to is what type of children do we want to raise?

We have a huge impact on how our children turn out, and our interactions, not only with them but with the others in our lives—including their mothers—are going to affect them for the rest of their lives. So we must be aware of ourselves and how we are acting in front of our children.

Dads have had to step up their game and take on more roles that were not traditionally reserved for them in generations past. Helping with laundry, cooking, cleaning, dressing the kids, doing bath time, and fixing hair are just a few of the additional roles dads have been forced to take on—on top of mowing the yard, fixing the car and everything else around the house, going to work . . . sounds exhausting right? But today’s dad is rocking it and doing these things every day.

However, even with all of these additional roles, the most important thing we can do is be involved in our children’s lives.

Always make time for your children. Remember that their success depends on it.

We want our children to do well academically, to be emotionally secure, and to have less behavior and substance abuse problems. So that next time that lady at the store makes a statement like “Oh, Dad dressed the kids today!” or, “Wow hanging out with Dad today, huh?” give them a kind smile and reply “Isn’t it great . . . I love taking care of my kids!”

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Nathan Glenn

Nathan Glenn is a husband and father to three kids. He's been teaching elementary-aged children for the past fifteen years in Baltimore, Maryland. When he's not coaching his daughters' soccer teams or traveling with his family, he loves to cook and take scenic photos.