Jim Rohn, the entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker and mentor to self-help god Tony Robbins, famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Assuming this theory is accurate, in my opinion, it’s not too much of a stretch to believe the same logic applies to parenting. The five dads I spend the most time with ultimately shape not only who I am and how I parent. After some major rotations on my own roster, I have settled on the following five dads in my friend group without whom I’d be completely lost. I’d look for them in your world, too.
1. The Bob Vila Dad
I’m not a handy guy. In fact, I kind of suck at building, fixing, repairing or anything else that falls under the ubiquitous umbrella of “being handy.” Sometimes the frustration of not being able to master a minor repair task will lead me to break other perfectly fine objects in my vicinity, thus creating more work than I had before I started my task.
The Bob Vila of my group is exactly the opposite. He can literally build anything with his bare hands – or his bare hands and some really sweet tools that I wish I had. Just having to see this guy on a regular basis forces me to step up my game in the handiness department. Since this dude has been around, I’ve forced myself to complete tasks I would’ve gotten someone else to do. These days, I don’t balk at putting together any of my kids’ engineering projects – i.e., assemble-it-yourself toys. I even look forward to the challenge of putting together the swing-set we just purchased for my son.
2. The Costco King Dad
Known in some regions as the Cheap Dad, this guy lives for a good deal and fiscally responsible money management practices. When he’s not letting you know about his latest money-saving triumphs or quoting passages from Rich Dad, Poor Dad he’s explaining the importance of diversifying your portfolio or discussing the finer points of his prudent investments. The Costco King will go to heroic lengths to save a few bucks at every possible opportunity and, no matter how much money he acquires, he still frets constantly over financial issues.
This dude has money on his mind 24/7, and he has no tolerance for people who shirk their financial responsibilities. Costco King has done extraordinarily well for himself and his family, and having him around forces me to consistently evaluate my financial decisions and work on my bad money habits.
3. The Unflappable Dad
I can’t overstate the importance of this guy’s role for me. By nature, I’m anxious, emotional, temperamental, and prone to worst-case thinking – all attributes that don’t mix well with raising young children. The Unflappable Dad excels at taking emotion out of the equation, looking at the big picture and responding in a logical manner. Whatever life throws at this dude – from life-changing tragedies to mundane, daily annoyances – he manages to keep his composure and do what needs to get done. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the whole fatherhood thing, I’ll often ask myself what this guy would do.
4. The Dreamer Dad
Also known as the Cover Band Dad, Open Mic Dad or, in rare cases, the American Ninja Warrior Dad. Despite the colossal responsibility of parenthood, this guy refuses to give up on the things he’s passionate about. Whether it’s playing on in nineties rock band one weekend a month or hitting the occasional stand-up comedy open mic in the hopes of one day winding up on Conan, Dreamer Dad is trying to be the best parent he possibly can without completely giving up on those passions he pursued tirelessly before the kids entered the picture.
When this dad leans too heavily toward those passion projects and hobbies at the expense of his family, he’s not somebody you will look up to in your group. But when he manages to maintain the right balance between the two, he’s a great reminder that you don’t have to give up everything we love to be a great dad.
5. The Listener
A man of few words, this guy doesn’t speak often but, when he does, the words that come out of his mouth are usually very insightful. On the rare occasion he says something about parenting, write it down, because it’ll probably make you a better dad. This guy’s major strength is listening. He’s a natural at drawing things out of his friends, and without realizing it, you often wind up telling him about problems you didn’t even realize you were having in the first place. On top of being a loyal friend, this guy doubles as a cost-free therapist.