What is a Good-Bad Dad (GBD)?

I coined “Good-Bad Dad” not as a judgement but a principle.  No one should levy verdicts on parents – good or bad.  We’re all doing our best.

Being a Good-Bad Dad is a mix-mash of two strong, opposing feelings: love and regret.

GBD’s adore our children and the families we’ve created.  We simultaneously house a small piece of regret for having tried to provide the world to our kids only to find that dream impossible to reach.

Whether you have one child or five (like me), our children will never be satisfied despite our dogged efforts to do so.

The regret we hold will not get us down or dampen our spirit for the family we love.  In fact, we’ll to try again – today, tomorrow and forever.  The feeling of regret, though, will remain.

That is the quintessential quality of GBD’s everywhere – we are united in the fervor to raise great kids while acknowledging that we can only do so much.

There are 5 simple ways to self-diagnose Good-Bad Dad-ism:

  1. Kid Activities > Your Enjoyment

Becoming a parent inevitably obligates a father to spend time participating in activities that only kids enjoy (the annual dance recital where the dads choreograph a ballet routine comes to mind).  A Good-Bad Dad will sit through endless games, recitals and parent/teacher conferences at the cost of almost anything.   A GBD might even take another step – proactively turning down invitations if there is the potential it would interfere with their kid time (say goodbye to the golf game).

  1. Present but not present

Good-Bad Dads will support their children at everything; sports, dance, band, conferences, spirit day, field trips and well-baby appointments.  A GBD will continually fret about the next “thing” to do.  Stressing about what’s next has GDB’s distracted – unable to devote full attention to the activity they’ve rushed to get to.

This quality is the ultimate oxymoron the need for physical presence in the absence being emotion keyed in.  This is the mirage created by being at everything and nothing simultaneously.

  1. Running Ragged is a way of life

When our heads hits the pillow,  Good-Bad Dads are conflicted.  A GBD will both love and lament starting the daily chase again tomorrow.  Whatever was left unfinished (laundry, spelling, an email to your boss) will be done in the morning.  That is, until you leave no time the next day – and the next, and the next.  From the outside looking in, a Good-Bad Dad really has their stuff together.  On the inside, though, a Good-Bad Dad is shamed by what is still left to do.

  1. Passion for kids at the cost of others

A Good-Bad Dad has to fight to garner energy for the world outside of their children.  A Good-Bad Dad recognizes that their relentless parenting zaps their reservoir of energy.  As a result, the Good-Bad Dad creates friction in relationships that often bear the cost of the lack of enthusiasm that is left over.

  1. Find it difficult to read to #5

A Good-Bad Dad will likely not have read this far – in fact, they lost it after #2 above.  If a GBD has made it this far, they are likely saying, “How many more qualities are there?  The kids have to get to soccer and swimming!”

The impatience that comes with a GBD’s nature is clear.


I did not just create the principle of a Good-Bad Dad, I live it.

I try my best for my kids.

I attend every activity that my five children are involved in.

I truly do love my family above all.


I’m tired.

I’m disappointed that I can’t do more.


I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about characteristics that give rise to the Good-Bad Dad qualities you have experienced.  Together we move toward our goals and, by extension, become better parents.


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