Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

How to Be a Good Dad When You Didn’t Have One

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2014 Apr 22

If you want to know how much dads matter in the lives of their children, ask me – I didn’t grow up with a dad.

My biological dad, stepdad and foster dad were all out of my life by the time I turned 13.

It’s tough to go through life with a father who’s either physically or emotionally absent. But don’t take my word for it; just look at the statistics. They’ll show you how things go awry when a dad’s not at home.


-        71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

-        85 percent of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes.

-        90 percent of all homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.

Fathering Well Despite the Dad-Shaped Hole

To be fair, there are countless dads out there who know their contributions matter and are unique from what a mom can offer her children. They try their best every day… but, for them, the temptation to leave or disengage may still be strong.

Some of these men are frustrated by this whole fatherhood thing because they were one of those boys growing up without a dad.

I get you. That was me… that is me.

There have been many times when I’ve felt inadequate as I’ve faced various parenting situations. Those are the moments when, as an adult, I most sharply feel the loss of my dad.

Sometimes it’s made me angry. Other times it’s driven me to my knees in prayer.

Thankfully, God’s been faithful to use what few experiences I did have with my biological dad and other father-figures to teach me invaluable lessons.

A How-To Guide for Dads

I’ve captured what I learned in my latest book, “The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be.” In it, I share what’s worked in my life and how I overcame my dad-shaped hole.

Some are simple lessons like the need for dads to be present in their kids’ lives, the importance of being a man of your word, and the proper way to both love and discipline your children. Others are harder lessons that on dealing with our deep-seated insecurities as fathers and men.

But more than that, in this book I offer dads encouragement from my own journey. In a culture where we constantly – understandably – encourage dads to “man up,” I wanted to offer those dads who are trying their best some empathy. After all, I know you can both love your kids and feel like fatherhood is an uphill battle. In my mind, sacrifice is what makes parenthood so worthwhile.

Today and tomorrow we’re airing a two-part broadcast, “Striving to Be A Good Dad,” where I share a bit about my book and life experiences. I hope you’ll tune in and listen on your local radio station, online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.

I pray the program will bless and encourage you, and inspire you as you strive to be the man your wife and children need, and the hero God wants you to be.

Learn about “Irreplaceable,” the one-night theatrical event showing on May 6


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