‘Dadhood’ vs ‘Fatherhood’: What’s the difference?

Jun 15, 2015

Michael Byron Smith
Credit Alex Heuer

It’s not often parenting advice comes from a male’s perspective. However, one man claims to have the guidance needed on how to be the best parent possible.

Michael Byron Smith, author of “The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs,” provides researched tips on how to maneuver through fatherhood. Smith breaks down the book into four parts: The Implications of Fatherhood, The Challenges of Fatherhood, The Pyramid of Dadhood and The Pinnacle of the Pyramid. Included at the end is a “dad’s self-inspection” checklist.

Smith, the oldest of six siblings, grew up with an on-again-off-again father who was an alcoholic, he said. Despite familial troubles, Smith went on to be the only one of his siblings to graduate from both high school and college. After becoming a father, he aimed to break what he called “a cycle of despair” that plagued his family growing up. It is common for parents to raise their children according to the way they were parented, Smith said. However, through studying, he was able to better prepare himself to be a good father to his children, despite his upbringing.

“When you’re a dad, you want to study a little bit about being a dad,” Smith explained. “It doesn’t all come natural. If you are a father, that means you were a part of bringing that [child] into the world, but when you’re a dad, you’re much more involved.”

“Fathers are an intricate part in filling the voids that mothers leave,” Smith added. “Fathers are a little more aggressive; they’re fun and just bring different things to the table.”

Smith points out that there is a difference between fatherhood and dadhood. According to him, being a father is a biological act whereas being a dad takes more of a commitment. “There are a lot of fathers out there that have nothing to do with being a dad,” he said. “A ‘dad’ is a career. It’s something you spend lots of time doing, and the rewards are great.”

Here are the seven characteristics of a successful dad, according to Smith:

  • Be involved.
  • Be principled.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be loving.
  • Be fun.
  • Be balanced.
  • Be passionate. 

Some other factors that Smith highlights are the important role that fathers play in teaching sons how to be men and showing daughters how a man should treat them.

Though he provides well-intentioned advice, Smith admits that not every family dynamic is the same. “You do not have to be any certain way to be a father,” he said. “You just have to be yourself. And, when you’re doing it with love and attention, you’re pretty much 90 percent there.”

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.