Dad Hand-Me-Downs

Dad Hand-Me-Downs

What every father needs pass on to his kids

Written by Taylor Smith |

Normally, when we talk about “hand-me-downs” we’re talking about something that we don’t really want but we get anyway. Like clothes. Or an old pair of shoes that “don’t fit your brother anymore” so now you have to wear them.

There are important things that get handed down, however. Names, keepsakes and memories are but a few of the truly meaningful things that we pass on to our children and loved ones. We talked to all the important “father figures” in our lives and came up with a few essential dad hand-me-downs.

The Importance of Time

Whether it’s finding the time to play catch with your son or take your daughter out to movie, ask kids of any age and they’ll tell you they always appreciated when dad would make time for them. As a kid it’s hard to understand why dad doesn’t want to spend more time with you, because termslike “responsibilities” and “obligations” are nebulous and mean very little. As a dad, most of us find ourselves with too much to do and not enough time to do it. So, how do we bridge the gap?

The key is to prioritize. As a father, one of the most important things you can hand down to your son or daughter is an understanding that family comes first. That doesn’t mean that your family is going to get as much of your time as work or other obligations, but the time they do get should be quality time. Take the time to make sure your kids know that your family is the most important thing in your life. 

Fatherhood Facts

The Positive Impact of Father Involvement

In a study examining father involvement with 134 children of adolescent mothers over the first 10 years of life, researchers found that father-child contact was associated with better socio-emotional and academic functioning. The results indicated that children with more involved fathers experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in case of nonresident fathers.

Source: Howard, K. S., Burke Lefever, J. E., Borkowski, J.G., & Whitman , T. L. (2006). Fathers’ influence in the lives of children with adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 468- 476.

Fathers and Education

Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s. This was true for fathers in biological parent families, for stepfathers, and for fathers heading single-parent families.

Source: Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001.

Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.

Source: Harper, Cynthia C. and Sara S. McLanahan. “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.


Traditions can be some of the most cherished and valued things you can pass down to future generations. Perhaps you come from family rich with traditions like vacationing in a certain place every year or having popcorn and candy for dinner on Sunday nights (it just so happens that these are family traditions of mine). Maybe your family supports a certain sports team and always has. Whatever it is, it’s important. It binds future generations to the present and the past.

Plus, it’s never too late to start making traditions, and they don’t have to be hugely expensive family trips to the beach (unless you live by the beach and then you should just go to the beach). They can be simple things like daddy-daughter dates, family movie night, or a monthly trip to a sporting event. The point is that your traditions can be what you want them to be. And no matter what they are, your children will remember and pass more than a few on to their kids.


Of everyone I talked to about their fondest father memories, almost all of them had a tender moment with their father—some moment where their dad comforted them or made them feel loved. These were important memories that shaped these individuals. There’s no overstating the importance of a father’s love and consideration.

Dad’s are constantly displayed as tired, disinterested, uncaring individuals (at least in much of today’s media). They’re often clueless as to what really goes on in the lives of their children or spouse. Many of them are only kind when they really need to be. It probably goes without saying, but real dads are not TV dads.

I suppose this section could just as easily be titled “Love,” because that’s what we’re really talking about here. Every father needs to show his kids that they matter—that he cares for them. Sure, there will be times where the law needs to be enforced and punishment dispensed. But hopefully those moments are exceptional and punctuate prolonged, consistent kindness and love. 

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