When Steve and I were shopping for our first house, our goal was to find a fixer-upper that would help us gain extra equity. Our quest led us to some pretty shady properties. Luckily, our Realtor Cristie was an expert at narrowing the hunt, plus she had a great sense of humor.

That first week, we toured a home with cigarette burns on the counters and an on-going pot smoking party in the basement, complete with a giant, glittery unicorn mural. As Cristie herded us out the door, the wife urged us to slow down and see the upstairs. “Thanks,” Cristie quipped, “but we’re looking for something real specific.” We three exploded with laughter the minute the car doors slammed. Her line has stuck with us and became a private joke.

Reflecting on my single years, that line comes to mind. I was definitely looking for something “real specific.” I knew I would probably become a mother and that my choice had to be perspicacious. This Father’s Day, I want to praise the man in our family. Here are 5 specifics that make a world-class father:

A noble father speaks to his family from a place of gratefulness and self-respect.

He never resorts to condescension or sarcasm. Steve models the Heavenly Father’s voice, always talking up to Adrienne and Addison (and me) like they’re valuable and capable of more. This is a powerful factor in winning our kids’ hearts. Plus, I believe our earliest relationship with God tends to model our first ideas of a father. Just listening to Steve has helped me heal.

A consummate father makes a weighty investment in his daughter.

Steve joyfully plans father-daughter nights and unabashedly tells Adrienne she is beautiful. He dotes on her like a worthy woman, an extension of the way he treats me. There is no cajoling necessary on my part. His wholehearted role is paving the way for her future, and the family she will choose to add to ours.

A worthwhile father is hands-on; he teaches his children the skills he has developed.

Steve is a jack of all trades and a master of many. He can install a transmission, remodel a kitchen, write software, wire a sound system, take professional portraits, play instruments… He brought home boxes of rusty metal from a farmer’s barn and assembled a cherry red ‘76 Honda motorcycle that makes old men drool. He’s a quick study and patient instructor. He imparts his can-do confidence to all three of us.

An indispensable father steps up to the plate to protect and provide.

He works hard, dreams big and aims to keep his promises. Steve never treats our family like my job v. his job. He simply does what is necessary, modeling authentic manhood for our son. Sometimes my past sneaks back up on me and I feel overwhelmed, as though I were still a kid struggling to fix my own problems with cobbled-together solutions. Steve reminds me that I am definitely not alone, that we have many resources together, and nothing is so scary as it seems. In his embrace, I can catch my breath again. A capable father imparts that same safety and surety to his family.

An legendary father is present.

Steve’s favorite thing is to spend time with us. In fact, when Adrienne was born, he finagled paternity leave to match mine and rolled it into working from home part time. Half the reason he became an entrepreneur was to be the master of his own schedule, with us as top priority. He is one fun dad! He turns on music and starts a dance party. He’s the absolute king of corny dad jokes. (He cheats at Monopoly though, and Settlers of Catan, and – well, don’t play board games with him.) Steve loves to take us on adventures. So far, we have visited 27 states and Mexico together. He makes us hold our breath when we cross bridges or state lines. My childhood was pretty bleak, but Steve has shown me how much joy and laughter can be packed into a day.

The Wholehearted Family Movement

Here is to all you authentic fathers, showing up to give your best in your families every day. We salute your courage and steadfastness. To those of you who may read this and wince, it’s never too late to be the person you needed when you were young. Pick one area, one action, and start there. Lastly, to all the grown up daughters and sons who read this and feel an aching void, I know this from personal experience: You are never too old to be adopted by your Heavenly Father, who celebrates you and calls you his treasure.

Written by Melissa Brendtro