RELATIONSHIPS

I hope you had a good time on Father’s Day. It’s a holiday that I never got to celebrate until recently. My biological father left when I was a newborn baby and I’ve only seen him once, when I was 21. But in the last few years, Father’s Day has become one of my favorite holidays because I get to celebrate it with Paul, my husband and proud dad to our son Serge.

I remember when we were dating, Paul told me that he never thought he’d be a dad. He was getting older, had never married and was ok with not knowing what it was like to be a parent. Now, eight years later, he’s an awesome, hands-on, “best dad ever” to our son, who’s crazy about him. Who would think it would turn out that way?

Actually, you can tell if a man you’re dating is going to be a great dad. If you definitely want to create your own family, you must know what to look for when dating a guy who could become the father of your child(ren).

Here are my top 5 signs he’s got what it takes to become a wonderful dad:

1. He has someone or something he cares about. When I went to Paul’s apartment after a couple of weeks of dating, he proudly showed me his fluffy gorgeous cat, talked to the cat in a funny baby voice and referred to him as his baby kitty cat.

Find out who he really cares about. Does he have a pet that he rescued from an animal shelter? Does he have a big smile when tells you about playing with his nephews or nieces? Does he regularly visit his aging parents? These are all good signs.

2. He knows how to have quality fun together. When Paul and I started dating, he showed his playful and fun-loving side right away. Our first date on a beach in Long Island included fun things like running away from the ocean’s waves and swinging high up in the air. Now, it’s the three of us playing together—from skiing and ice skating to boating and rollerblading.

Diverge from conventional dinner dates or wine bars. Do something that you both enjoy. Does he have passions and interests that aren’t limited to “adults only” (e.g., happy hours, night- clubs, poker, wine tastings)? Does he spend a lot of his free time on family-friendly activities? Does he enjoy being outdoors? If yes, it’s likely to be easy to involve your children in those things later on.

3. He has stability in his life. When I asked Paul what stage of life he was in when we started dating (you want to find this out early on), he described it as “the best time of his life.” Because he had reached the point in his career where he didn’t have to work so hard to prove himself to others (something younger men have to do), he could enjoy the balance between his work and personal life. He was ready for a committed relationship. It was perfect timing for us to meet each other and create our family.

Look for any signs of transition that a man is going through. If he is dealing with uncertainty in his life (going through a divorce, looking for a new job, facing serious health issues), he wouldn’t be a great dad, at least in the near future, until he resolves his issues. Does he have a stable job that he likes? Does he work “regular” hours that enable him to focus on other things besides work? If yes, these are good signs that he’s able to give a future family the foundation, support, and resources it will need.

4. He has a big heart. From the beginning, Paul was open, kind and generous with me and others. He showed up with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a box with Gucci shoes (a box of chocolates would be appreciated just as much) on the week of my birthday, when we had only dated for a couple of weeks. Shortly after that, I learned that as a lawyer, he often takes on pro bono cases, helping struggling families save their homes. And I still continue to discover the depths of his generosity—last week we went to a couples massage and he left a 40% tip for the masseuse.

Pay attention to how you feel around him and how he treats other people. Does he tell you he volunteers at a soup kitchen or animal shelter on weekends? Does he speak respectfully to servers and tip generously? Does he bring you flowers for no reason? Does he call his mom and say he loves her before hanging up the phone? If you notice signs like these, most likely he’s a loving and caring man who’ll give his heart fully to his child.

5. He wants to become a dad. Even though, when I met Paul, he didn’t think he’d ever be a dad, things have changed. As we got to know each other and he realized that creating a family was a deal breaker for me, we faced a decision moment. Being a coach helped me in uncovering his limiting beliefs about becoming a parent. Turns out he associated having a child with loss of passion and intimacy in marriage. Once his belief shifted and was replaced with a new one along the lines of “we’ll have triple fun than what we have now”, he actually got excited about becoming a dad. Now, he enjoys it to the fullest.

Be curious about him and his vision for the future. If he says that he always wanted to have his own family and teach his kids how to play baseball, that’s a home run. However, if he says that he doesn’t see himself as a dad, dig deeper and find out what’s really going on. You could coax him into a very different vision by helping him remove his negative beliefs and old conditioning. Create opportunities for him to shift his attitude by visiting friends who have young children, volunteering with kids or teaching something you both enjoy. If he doesn’t get inspired even after those encounters, you’ll have a clear answer and can move on.

So, here are my top 5 signs that a man you’re dating will be a great dad. Comment here and let me know of other signs that helped you assess his “best dad in the world” potential.