HomeFamilyAttention all dads: quit being crappy dads.

Attention all dads: quit being crappy dads.

As you all know Girl Ninja and I are heavily involved in a high school outreach called Young Life. We’ve gotten pretty close with our freshmen over the year, and as such, they’ve really started to open up to us about their lives. If there is one common thing I’ve noticed in each of these kids’ life stories it’s this: Most of their dads suck at being dads. 

Walking away from your marriage is one thing, but walking away from your entire family brings you to a whole new level of douche-ism. From physical, verbal, and sexual assault, to drugs, infidelity, and neglect; these kids have dealt with more than any person, let alone a 15-year-old, should ever have to.

I was talking with one of my guys about his parent’s pending divorce (his dad cheated on his mom with a prostitute), when he said something pretty darn mature. He said “While I don’t really have a good example of what a father figure should look like, I’ve feel like I’ve learned from my dad what NOT to do when I have kids.”

While it totally sucks that this kid doesn’t have a solid father figure in his home, I’m encouraged by the fact that he understands that his dad is a crappy dad, and uses that as motivation to NOT follow in his father’s footsteps.

Isn’t that a lesson for us all really? Heck, I bet we can even apply that to our personal finance journey, can’t we? Who amongst you has learned WHAT NOT TO DO in regards to your money, spending habits, etc from someone else’s terrible choices? Who was that “bad example” in your life; mom, dad, sibling, grandparent? We love modeling ourselves after people like “insert cliché Personal Fiance Guru here”, when in reality people like Nicolas Cage can be just as influential…albeit for a completely different reason.



  1. Chris Rock said it pretty well: All my job is as a dad is to keep my daughters off the pole.

  2. I learned to avoid debt from 2 of my siblings who struggled with huge amounts of credit card debt in their early 20s. When it came time for me to get a credit card at 18 I knew the importance of paying it off every month thanks to them. Now at 26, I can say without a doubt that I’ve never paid interest on anything charged to a credit card

  3. I read a wise quote about dealing with people like that:

    I am grateful for the difficult people in my life. They show me exactly the kind of person I don’t want to be.

  4. YES! I totally agree with this post.

    I’m about 21 weeks pregnant and people are AMAZED at how happy and involved my husband is with my pregnancy—he is going to make a GREAT dad that kids will be jealous of. I hear so many stories about how the husband was uninvolved and disinterested during pregnancy and how a few years (or a decade) later it hadn’t really gotten much better and/or the parents have gotten a divorce.

    I know there are GOOD dads out there, but it seems like people just want to tell me about the crappy ones.

  5. I learned what not to do in life from my Dad and my sister. And the love I got from my mom made up for anything I wasn’t getting from anyone else.

  6. One of the real problems of divorce and bad parenting is behavior. Many children who have bad role models in their life act out in the classroom. This bad behavior affects your education and your future. At least that is my experience as a teacher.

  7. Couldn’t agree more. I work as a school psychologist, and I would say that roughly 95% of my students either don’t know their father or he has 0 involvement in their lives.

    My parents served as great financial models of what not to do.

    P.S. unsolicited, but two great parenting books that talk about how to be a great role model to your kids are “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” and “Boys Should Be Boys” both by Meg Meeker. Highly recommend for all current or future parents.

  8. You learn a lot from your family. I have learned a lot from my dad, and my grandfather. Both are huge positive influences on my life. My mom on the other hand is pretty crappy when it comes to motherhood. You learn to live with it, but you know inside that there is something deeply wrong and missing in your life.

  9. My husband had a horrible role model for a father. My husband IS one of the very best dads on earth to our children. So he learned like your wise student what not to do. And there is hope for those kids that they don’t have to repeat those mistakes.

  10. My two cents: I think it’s fair to expand “crappy dads” to crappy parents. While there are the dads who serve as poor role models and take off on their families, there are the other dads who want to be involved in their children’s lives — but a judge awards the mother full custody, and all they get is weekend/limited visitation. In that case, their influence in their children’s lives is far less than that of the mother, who does most of the parenting. And that’s not always a good thing, either. So could it be that the mother is the bad example. In an ideal world, both parents are equally involved. Financially, I’ve learned what not to do from a number of relatives, while others have been excellent role models in that department!

  11. I think it’s huge for boys and girls both to have a strong father figure in their life. I think a LOT of the problems we have as a society can stem from the broken home lives that so many people have these days. No discipline, no love and no moral guidelines for kids to live their lives by.

    I was one of the lucky ones who had good parents, a strong father figure and a loving mother. It really gave me a good insight into how a father should be, both loving and guiding by discipline – spending time with their kids and making them feel like they are important. I think it has helped me greatly once I became a father a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine how or why fathers would ever want to be so selfish – being a father is one of the greatest joys in my life!

    • First of all, I completely agree that a lot of problems are caused by a lack of good parenting and I’m happy for anyone who had a strong mother and father growing up.

      With that being said, I don’t think a strong father figure is essential for a child to be raised with discipline, love and moral guidelines.

      My mom raised me on her own and I think I turned out alright. I’m sure everyone knows someone who was raised by a single parent and has turned out pretty good.

      I say one Mom (or even two if that’s their thing) who truly loves her children but is strong enough to provide discipline is much better than a husband and wife who don’t give a crap or want to be their kids’ best friend.

      Finally, I think it’s time for society to stop telling kids that growing up in anything other than an upper-middle class home with a mom and dad makes you underprivileged. Making a kid feel like a victim anytime something isn’t perfect is a terrible way to raise self sufficient kids.

  12. Surprisingly, I can’t think of anyone close to me who has set an outrageously terrible financial example. The worst among my close friends and relatives is debt due to student loans, mortgages, and one very expensive divorce.

    My biggest takeaway from those people is that I have a choice in my finances. Don’t want to be house poor? Well nobody forced you to buy a house with a monthly mortgage payment that’s easily twice as much as the average rent in this area. But somehow you’re the victim? Realize if/when you’re simply “keeping up with the Joneses” and take a more active interest in how that will impact your financial life.

    • Judging a man? When a dude decides to participate in activities that could conceive children, that dude needs to own up to the responsibilities that may come with that action.

      If he isn’t willing to be a good father, wrap up or keep it in your pants.

      • Agree!! My bio-dad (sperm donor..whatever you wanna call him) wasn’t around while I was growing up so of course no child support and I went without a lot. Clothes and shoes that didn’t fit, living in a really bad neighborhood in a small 2 bdrm apt with extended family, only income from welfare, etc. I finally saw him at 16/17 and it was the last time. His new wife had the nerve to tell me I was disrespectful for calling him by his first name and not dad…my mom and I politely told her to f*** off….never heard from him again. Funny enough I am his only daughter but he is active in his sons’ lives..all five of them. Oh well guess I should be happy that during one of his stints in jail he got my name tattooed on his arm….trust me that is way better than having a winter coat.

  13. Another viewpoint is that it’s hard to be really involved in your kids lives when courts will typically award sole custody to the mother and fighting for more takes an absurd amount of time and money. The court system has decided overall that fathers are a paycheck and little more.

    An older friend of mine is married running a stable household. The mother of his child was at one point involved with a cocaine dealer. She recently married a guy she knew for just a few weeks. She still has primary physical custody.

    This is changing of course, but very slowly.

  14. I know what you mean Ninja, the only things my dad taught me were how not to be one and how not to manage money.

  15. Yeah…my dad was pretty absent for a lot of my life and really unreliable. And when he was there he was super strict and judgmental…not so fun.

    It took me a long time to get over. But now I have a fantastic husband and we are expecting our first baby. He is dedicated 100% to family and is going to be such an amazing father.

    I guess my dad taught me the most important thing of all…pick your partner wisely 🙂

  16. Ninja,

    Have you ever heard of “The Quest for Authentic Manhood”? It is a biblically based study that helps guys develop a better vision for their lives and become better Dads. I thought you might want to file this for future reference b/c if you evertake on leadership position at a church, this is a good program to roll out.

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