When you think of the word “dad,” what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the person grilling burgers during the neighborhood barbecue. Or the one showing you the ins and outs of a figure 8 knot when rock climbing. Or the guy listening quietly on the other end of the phone after a bad day at work or school. 

Fathers are many things—and many different things to each of us. Their roles in our lives change over time. And our relationships with them can be complicated, too. What we know is that fathers often have an outsize impact on each and every one of us.  

In honor of Father’s Day, Equinox’s staff put together this list of the top qualities shared by warm, loving, caring dads.

  1. Intentional and involved
    He prioritizes quality family time, during which he’s truly present, and plans “dad dates.”
  2. A good listener
    He always makes his kids feel heard. He’s willing to listen and validate their feelings
    without trying to fix things.
  3. Non-judgmental
    He’s sensitive and supportive and allows his children to explore who they are and ask
    questions without judgment. He accepts and loves them just as they are.
  4. Encouraging
    He wants his kids discover what makes them feel happy and fulfilled. He’s a gentle
    teacher who guides his kiddos through new experiences and makes them feel safe when
    trying new things.
  5. Nurturing and Protective
    Through his tone and approach, he makes his kid(s) feel safe and secure. He’s caring in
    his interactions and shows affection. He’s also consistent with boundaries and
    expectations so his kids can learn and grow in a supportive environment.
  6. Fun-loving
    It’s not all serious! Caring dads also know how to have fun and laugh with their kids.
  7. Vulnerable
    He expresses his own emotions and models emotional vulnerability to his children. He’s
    forgiving and able to apologize when he’s wrong. And he’s able to provide comfort
    when a child needs it.
  8. Wise
    Whether the advice is solicited or unsolicited, it (almost) always ends up being useful.
    More importantly: He communicates openly with his kids and is able to have tough
  9. Adaptable
    Even the best fathers mess up sometimes. Loving dads know they can learn from their
    kids, too. They’re also willing to try new things with their kids—a new sport, some
    TikTok dance—even when it makes them feel silly.
  10. Role Model
    The best fathers model behavior and values throughout their kids’ lives—in words and
    actions. He shows love and affection; what a healthy relationship looks like; and that all
    people should be treated with respect.