I found out last week that my oldest son, 25, is going to be a new father. This is my first child to have a child. So, it has me reflecting on fatherhood, and what every new dad needs to know. I’m not an expert but, as a father of six, I think I may know a little something.
Yes, you read that right—father of six. I was a father young. The oldest is 25 years old, followed by a 20, 19, 10, 9, and 4 year old. What can I say, my wife can’t keep her hands off me. However, when I was a young man expecting his first child, the only advice I received from my dad was, “Time to get your act together.” Boy, was that ever helpful, right?
Here I have listed the Top 10 things I believe every new father should know.
Keep Calm and Father On
There is a lot of anxiety with becoming a new father. Should I do this, and should I do that? Don’t over think things. Just do your best, and everything will be fine. Yes, the whole world is about to change, but that is a good thing.
Your baby will think you are stupid.
Some ancient philosophers believed that babies are born with all the knowledge of the universe, but the ability to access it fades as they become toddlers. There will be a day that your baby will give you a look that says, “What the eff is wrong with you?” At that moment, you will realize your baby thinks you are stupid. You’ll see that look again when they become a teenager, but with less wisdom in the eyes.
Always be the grownup.
The only thing worse than a 2 year old throwing a tantrum is an adult throwing a tantrum. You are not you child’s buddy, pal, or friend… you are his/her father, act like it. You’re baby will someday grow up to become some combination of you and your baby-mama. Be the adult you want your child to become.
Yours is not the world’s first baby.
Many first time parents act like every problem or challenge has never happened with any other baby. There have been people a lot less intelligent, talented, and caring than you that have successful raised children. If you can figure out which end gets the bottle, and which end gets the diaper, you should be fine.
Ask your grandparents for advice.
Don’t try to go it alone. Reach out to friends and family who have been there, done that, However, for the best, tried and true advice, reach out to your grandparents. The most popular parenting guide will never be as good as the real life experiences of your parents’ parents. Do not underestimate their value,
You will make mistakes—unforgivable mistakes.
Do you remember your dad telling you, “You will understand when you have children.” Well, that is true for about 98% of the things that you hated as a child. The remaining amount was your father screwing up royally. There is no sugar coating this. Realize, there will come a day when you make the absolute wrong choice. You will have to live with it, and the consequences.
Every child is unique.
Every child will have their own interests and talents. Some children will be more obedient, more helpful., or more academically skilled. Others will question everything you say, and will exhaust you before your first cup of coffee. Being a father is about unconditional love. Never let your own agenda get in the way of truly accepting your child.
This child is your legacy.
Most people’s names will be lost and forgotten to history. As a young man, you may not think about these things. However, your greatest gift to the future will be your children, and their children, and their children’s children on into forever. The impact of you being a father will create ripples in time and space, echoing through the ages, and will change the world in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. No pressure.
Don’t allow yourself to become a second-class parent.
You are not a baby-sitter, a taxi driver, or just a paycheck. You are a dad, and you are every bit as valuable as the mom, and don’t let anyone tell or make you feel different. Starting day one, make it known that you are an equal parent. Be aggressively involved.
Your baby will still your baby at 25.
I know it may be years away, but start preparing now. The greatest heartbreak is the day your baby joyfully runs away from you toward the school bus, on the first day of kindergarten. Blink your eyes, and they are walking to receive their diploma. Then one day… oh my god, my baby is having a baby! No matter how old they are, how big they get, you always see your baby. It will always be difficult to let go of their hand.