You’re dating the man of your dreams. He’s smart, easy on the eyes, and perfect in all the ways that matter. Congratulations! You’ve found yourself a keeper. Here’s the catch: although he is a keeper, he won’t necessarily be an excellent dad.
Sure, he’s awesome in bed, fun to hang out with, and surprises you with his gentlemanly ways. But these aren’t things that will be useful when you both have a bundle of joy in your arms. On the contrary, being boyfriend material doesn’t necessarily equate to being dad material.
#1 A good sign that a man will be a good dad is responsibility. If he can go to work, meet deadlines, balance his time, and pay his bills without anyone telling him to, it’s a good sign he’s leading an adult life, and doesn’t spend his time partying and depending on his parents. This is important, because you shouldn’t be a kid if you’re taking care of a kid. You need to have your life in order before kids cause disorder. [Read: 11 sure signs your guy is a keeper]
#2 He is understanding, but stern when needed. Remember when you told your dad something you thought he’d be upset over, but he gave you advice instead? Or when you really messed up, and he got stern to get you back on the right track? That comes from a man who knows when to be soft, and when to be firm.
If your man knows when to be stern with his friends, family, or partner, then he knows how to handle things in a healthy, constructive manner. If he can gauge when to be soft and give advice, he is capable of being a loving father.
#3 Speaking of loving… to be a good father, your man should be capable of showing affection. If your partner takes you out on dates regularly, calls and spends time with friends and family, and isn’t afraid to hold hands, kiss, and cuddle you, then there’s a good chance he’ll make a good father.
Kids need affection–not just a disciplinarian to keep them in check. If your man is able to show his affection for you and the people he cares about, there’s a good chance he’ll be affectionate with his kids, as well. [Read: 10 subtly endearing ways men say “I love you”]
#4 He has fantastic stress management. Everyone stresses about something or other, but if a man can handle that stress and come out on the other side better for it, then he might be father material. Fathers need to be able to handle stress from work, kids, and their partner. If your guy can handle work stress and personal life stress already, he might have an easier time handling dad-level stress.
#5 He is protective, but not overly protective. If he keeps loved ones out of trouble and watches out for their wellbeing, he may be a good dad. There’s a difference between being protective and being over-the-top. If he understands that you need space and trusts your ability to make decisions, that’s a giant plus. A sign of a man who’s father material is knowing when to lend a helping hand and when to let you do your own thing. [Read: 9 ways men manipulate and control their girlfriends]
#6 Men should always be there for their partners when needed. While everyone should be able to handle their own issues, a good partner also understands when their partner needs a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Being reliable means he can be the man your kid calls one day with a life dilemma or car accident. [Read: The pros and cons of dating a guy who’s handy]
#7 He’s already good with kids. A good father is good with his kids, but there’s no way to know until you have kids, right? Not exactly. Watch his behavior with the children around him to get a good idea of how he’ll behave with your kids. If he’s able to talk and play with kids and genuinely look like he’s enjoying their company, it’s a good sign that he’ll make a great father.
#8 He’s socially mature, so he is great with family and friends–including yours. When a man is capable of making and maintaining healthy relationships and friendships because it shows he’s a people person, is able to interact with others, and is able to avoid drama over petty events.
When he’s also more than willing to maintain those interactions with his partner’s family and friends, it shows that he loves his partner and will incorporate his kids into both sides of the family, instead of favoring one.
#9 He knows how to enjoy quality time at home with his partner. A boy knows how to party and have a blast out and about… and sometimes start trouble. A man knows how to appreciate his partner and enjoys spending time at home. Over the years, a man should mature until he understands that life is more than just raising hell.
If he has a straight way of thinking now, and has left the craziness behind, then he will make a great dad, because he won’t neglect his children in order to go have fun with his buddies.
#10 He does small things to show appreciation for others–especially you. Something as simple as renting a funny movie when you’re down in the dumps shows that he cares and is willing to do tiny things to make you feel better. If he does this for you or his loved ones, he may also do that for your future children.
Being good father material means being able to balance ruggedness with affection, and sternness with tenderness. A good father will be loving toward his children, but will instill in them a sense of responsibility by being stern when needed, and leading by example.