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Father's Day: What makes a good dad?

To help students appreciate what makes a good father or ‘father figure’ and honour all men who have acted as father figures in their lives.

by Tim Scott

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To help students appreciate what makes a good father or ‘father figure’ and honour all men who have acted as father figures in their lives.

Preparation and materials

  • A photo of your father or a father figure to you, or pictures of famous dads and their children. You could play a game matching famous children to their fathers: download pictures to illustrate this (see point 1.).
  • As an introduction or concluding song, play ‘Father and Son’ by Boyzone from the album By Request or Cat Stevens’ original on the album Tea for the Tillerman.
  • Note: Be sensitive in how you approach this subject. Not everyone’s experience of ‘Dad’ may be positive. Father’s Day can be a difficult time for children who do not have a father living at home. Therefore in this assembly, father figures in a general sense should be celebrated – this could include stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers and big brothers, as well as dads.


  1. Play ‘Spot the Dad’. Examples could include: Peaches/Bob Geldof; Brooklyn and Romeo/David Beckham; Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward Windsor/Prince Philip; Malia Ann and Natasha (Sasha)/Barack Obama; Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal Blossom Rainbow/Jamie Oliver.
  2. Father’s Day is celebrated this year on Sunday 21 June. We can use the day not only to honour fathers, but to thank other men who have acted as father figures in our lives – whether as stepfathers, uncles, big brothers or grandfathers.

    The idea of celebrating a ‘Father’s Day’ came from a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who lived in Washington in the USA. Her mother died when she was a little girl, and it was her father who had brought her up. Sonora felt that it was important to have a special day when she could tell her father how much he meant to her. As he had been born in June, she chose that month to celebrate ‘Father’s Day’. Since then, the third Sunday in June has been used as an opportunity for people all over the world to thank their fathers for all they do.
  3. What makes a good father? Take a few responses from students and write them up on a flipchart/board.

    Fathers need to know their children. William Shakespeare wrote: ‘It is a wise father that knows his own child.’

    How well do you think your dad, or father figure, knows you? Would he know the names of your best friends? What kind of music you listen to? Would he know where you would spend your ideal day out? Would he know what your greatest achievement has been in the last year? Would he know who you fancy?!
  4. Our dads mean a lot to us. Not everyone has a dad living with them but most people have a father figure in their lives. They can protect us, help us feel safer and more secure, make us laugh, show us how much they care in lots of practical ways. All fathers are different.
  5. Every father has the potential to be a great dad but sadly they don’t always live up to that potential. Not all fathers are good fathers. It is very sad when fathers are separated from their children through life choices made by them or others. Today in Britain, 15 per cent of all babies are born or grow up without a resident biological father. Children whose fathers are absent in their youth may experience problems in adulthood, which shows us the importance of good male role models.

    Children without caring, involved parents sometimes spend their lives searching for a sense of identity and self-worth. Instead of fulfilling their potential they could become defined and labelled by a lifestyle – ‘runaway’, ‘convict’, ‘troublemaker’, ‘addict’.

    Tupac, the rap artist known for his violent song lyrics, who was killed in 1996, said: ‘I never knew my real father … I know for a fact if I’d had a father I’d have some discipline … more confidence. Your mother can’t calm you down … reassure you … show you where your manhood was. You need a man to teach you how to be a man.’
  6. We can’t pick our parents, but we can pick our role models. By choosing good role models, you can rise above your past and make a difference. Your parents may have given you your DNA, but Christians believe that God can give you a new start and a new beginning.
  7. Why are dads important? Fathers encourage us, help us to feel secure and show by example how to live well. In the Bible, when the apostle Paul needed an example of a positive influence, he talked about ‘a father with his child, holding [his/her] hand, whispering encouragement, showing [him/her] … how to live … before God’ (1 Thessalonians 2.11–12). Fathers can teach us values.
  8. One day, most of you will be fathers or mothers. Here are some top tips for being a great parent:

    Stay calm – try to take something positive out of new experiences that your kids will introduce you to.

    Be childlike – all parents were children once and being able to be silly and have fun with your kids is important. Do your parents laugh at your jokes even when they’ve heard them before?

    Don’t take yourself too seriously. Parents model good character to their children and this means being able to openly show sad emotions without being embarrassed, to know how to say sorry, to be honest about mistakes, to forgive other people for their mistakes and move on.

    Treat every child as unique.

    Praise your child if they do something right.

    Show your child that you trust him or her, and you have a better chance of them trusting you in return.
  9. When was the last time you were encouraged by your mum or dad? When was the last time you said ‘thank you’ to your parents for all they do and have done for you?

Time for reflection

Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to remember the father figures in our lives. Let’s take a minute to think about these important people, the things they do for us, and how we can tell them how much we care. If your dad distinguished himself as a good role model, remember to thank him. If you didn’t have that kind of influence or you grew up without a dad, let today be an occasion to honour the father figures in your life who have and still nurture and inspire you.

Spiritual growth, support, guidance, stability, nurture and love: these are all things good fathers and mothers can give us, but sadly, for some, parents are a source of hurt and pain. In God and in others we can find the healing, nurturing and sustaining love that is needed for our growth and well-being.


Jesus shows us that God is not just a good father but a perfect father. Sometimes our fathers get things wrong, but God is a perfect parent – a really good father and mother to all of us. God is always there to love us and support us, whatever we do. As a father, he is someone we can look up to and rely on – he will always care for us, no matter what happens.

Publication date: June 2009   (Vol.11 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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