I have been a dad for 9 months now and I have learned so much. I decided to compile a list of what I believe are the 10 most important pieces of advice every new father should follow in order to be a highly successful dad. Of course it takes more than 10 pieces of advice so if I missed any good ones feel free to leave them in the comments!
- BE THERE
Step one. It is the most basic step, and the most life defining step for your child (More on this later). I am not saying you have to stay with the baby’s mother, or even like her. I’m not saying you have to live in the same house as her. I understand that things happen, babies are conceived on accident all the time.
WHAT I AM SAYING is that like it or not, you as a man are now responsible for doing everything in your power to give this child the best possible chance at a successful life. Nothing else matters. Your past decisions do not matter. This baby is your clean slate, your fresh start to really do something you can be proud of, and that something is being a great father to this baby who needs you.
Earlier I said this step is the most “Life Defining” step for your child
Let me drop some statistics on you:
43% of United States children live a life without their biological father
90% of Runaway children are from fatherless homes
71% of pregnant teenagers are from fatherless homes
80% of convicted rapists are from fatherless homes
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes
85% of youths in prison are from fatherless homes
Some of you guys out there reading this may not think they have much to offer a baby or a child. You may justify abandoning your baby by convincing yourself that the baby is better off without you. I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE WRONG. Read the statistics above again if you need to. Suck it up and realize that your life is no longer all about you, and whatever it takes, BE THERE for that baby.
- Make eye contact and smile with your baby as often as possible
In my experience this is the number one way to bond with your baby from the very beginning. They are soaking up everything that they see, and every feeling that they have. Making eye contact with them will let them know that they can trust you, and I also believe they will remember your eyes and they will get to know you faster. For example I have bright blue eyes so i’m pretty sure my girl knows its me when she looks at them. Smiling at your baby as often as possible will provide a sense of comfort for them. Our baby is only 8 months old but she already associates smiles with love and fun. Let your baby know how much you love it by always smiling around it. “ABS”- Always Be Smiling!
- Realize that your life has changed and will never be the same, but it’s worth it
Listen up guys. The days of living for yourself are over. No more spending hours and hours playing video games, watching football games while getting drunk with your friends, going out to bars or clubs, binging on hours of netflix, or going to poker night twice a week. You are a family man now!
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t still be able to do the things you enjoy because you should!
BUT The first 3-6 months are going to be the hardest so as a man you need to be around as much as possible to give your baby’s mom all the help and emotional support she needs. Especially if she is breastfeeding as this is extremely physically and emotionally demanding on a woman. As new parents it is going to take you a good amount of time to get everything figured out. Once you and your baby’s mom get in to a good routine you can slowly begin to do the things you used to enjoy every once in a while, but being home with your family should still be your top priority!
I won’t lie to you it’s going to be a tough transition from doing whatever you want whenever you want, but I can promise you the love you will get from that baby boy or girl makes it all worth it.
- Put your family before yourself ALWAYS
As a father your priorities are now in this order, and it is non negotiable.
- Make sure your son or daughters needs are met
- Make sure your wife, girlfriend, or baby mamas needs are met
- You can have something for yourself when the people listed above are taken care of
Let me give an example to further clarify my point.
Let’s pretend you are a Cleveland Browns fan (I know it hurts already) and somehow the Browns made it to the Super Bowl! You are so excited to watch the game! You sit down with your snacks and a beer. The Browns kick off and the game is underway! Suddenly you hear that cry, not the regular cry, but the blood curdling scream. Your wife screams your name to come help because she needs a break. She is stressed out, crying, her nipples hurt, she hasn’t eaten in 16 hours. Believe me this is real life stuff i’m not making it up! This is your big moment. As excited as you are that the Browns made the Super bowl, which has never happened before and will probably never happen again, your family needs you. In this situation you are going to need to put the beer and snacks down, go be there for your family, and possibly have to miss some or all of the game.
Will anything this extreme really happen to you? Probably not. I think we all know the Cleveland Browns will never get to the Super Bowl anyway.
The point here is that as a man and a father there will be times when you have to make some real sacrifices for the good of your family. There will be moments when you have to miss out on something you really want to do, because your family needs you. You may have to sell your motorcycle or sports car for something more family friendly, miss the fantasy football draft in Vegas with all your friends, or maybe even get a second job to make sure your family can afford everything that they need.
When these hard times come along and you are bummed out about missing out on something in order to provide for your family just remember one thing. You should be proud that you are the kind of father who puts his family first, and your child is going to grow up to be a happy and successful human being because of the sacrifices that you are making for them!
- Get ready to see some things that might frighten you
Who here is squeamish? If you have read any of my previous writing you know that I certainly am. From the first visits to the gynecologist to the labor process to the birth to the breastfeeding. You are going to see some things that you can’t unsee.
I don’t want to ruin the wonderful surprises for anyone so I wont get into any of the disturbing details of the things you will see, but here are some clues. You are going to experience needles and blood, a whole lot of needles and blood. You will see your ladys hoo-ha take a whole new shape and size, and the nipples, oh how they grow. Those baby’s sure know how to stretch a nipple out while they feed, but don’t worry they will go back to their original size. If the nipple gets cracked or infected you are in for a real treat. Don’t feel like waiting to see what I mean? Google it! I dare you!
If your girl ends up having a C-section I would recommend not looking. I made sure keep my eyes down as I walked in to the operating room because I knew if I saw it I would pass out. From what I understand they take the majority of your girls organs and intestines out of her stomach and set them on the table next to her in order to get the baby out. Fun stuff right? Oh and the poop. POOP POOP POOP. I don’t know how so much poop can come out of such a tiny little creature.
If you are squeamish like me there is one piece of advice I can give you. Act tough, and pretend it doesn’t bother you. Eventually you can really trick yourself in to believing you aren’t phased, and you will be ok I promise. I am as squeamish as they come if I can get through these things so can you. I am after all, the guy who literally passed out while watching his wife give blood!
- Treat your child’s mother with respect
It’s pretty simple advice right? I said TREAT YOUR CHILD’S MOTHER WITH RESPECT. I did not say treat your wife with respect. I did not say treat your girlfriend with respect. I said TREAT YOUR CHILD’S MOTHER WITH RESPECT.
This means that the following men are all included in my statement:
Happily married men, divorced men, boyfriends, ex boyfriends, one night stand accidental dads, dads who were cheated on, full time dads, joint custody dads, dads who love their baby momma, dads who hate their baby momma, dads who are angry they have to pay child support, dads who think their baby momma is a loser, dads who think their baby’s mom is a lazy deadbeat mooch….Do you guys see the pattern yet? NO DAD IS EXEMPT FROM BEING RESPECTFUL TO HIS CHILD’S MOTHER
You do not have to LIKE your baby’s mother, but you do have to show her a level of respect for the good of the child that you have together.
There are two types of disrespectful situations that I see all the time by men directed at their baby’s mother that are just 100 percent completely unacceptable. This disrespect whether you know it or not is mentally and emotionally breaking your child, and it needs to stop. If you are someone who does one or both of these things below you really need to evaluate your choices and think about how they are affecting your child or children.
Situation number one: Being emotionally abusive to your child’s mother in front of your child. Things like name calling, belittling her, making her feel stupid or less adequate, bossing her around, the list could go on. From infants to toddlers to teens to adults, they see and understand way more than you will ever know. I can promise if you are being emotionally abusive in front of them they see it and understand it.
They will not only resent you for it but they will begin to mimic your behavior. You will see it in their behavior at home, school, and eventually in their adult relationships. Is it really fair to your child to raise them in an environment like this?
Situation number two: Talking bad about your child’s mother to your child, when the child’s mother is not around. I see this all the time, mostly in couples that are broken up. Each parent wants the child to think that they are the good parent, and the other one is a bad parent, so they attack each others character to the child behind the other parents back. As much as you do not like your child’s mother you should never involve the child. It’s called being a mature adult for the good of your kid. A child should never be told bad things about one parent in order to influence it to like the other parent more.
- Be mentally strong
I am not going to lie to you, being a parent is harder than you could ever imagine. When it’s 3 am and that baby is screaming bloody murder in your face the following thought is going to cross your mind “ What have I done, I have ruined my life”, and you are going to have the immediate urge to hand the baby back to your baby’s mom and go hide in another room. It is in high stress difficult situations like these that you need to be mentally strong. Remember that your baby’s mom needs the break way more than you do. We as men are competitive by nature. I suggest taking situations like these and turning them into a personal challenge. Make a challenge with yourself that no matter how hard the baby screams or cries you are going to rock her or walk her until she falls asleep. Tell your baby’s mom she can go sleep in another room and you will handle it. I promise if you do this your baby’s mom will have a huge amount of love and respect for you as a man and a father.
- Listen politely to advice from others, but make your own parenting decisions
In today’s world everybody’s an expert on everything. Let me rephrase that. In today’s world everyone “thinks” they are an expert on everything. Everyone also thinks that their opinion is correct, and is the only one that matters. Parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and even your baby’s pediatrician are all going to have their own opinions on some controversial parenting topics, and it is fine to hear their opinions. When listening to outside opinions just remember, this is your baby not theirs. You are the person responsible for making sure that this child grows to be a kind, loving, and respectful human being.
Similar to the head Coach of a sports team you and your baby’s mom will be credited with the wins and blamed for the losses. If the baby turns into a great kid you will be praised for what a great job you did, and if the baby turns out to be a little devil, you will be talked about behind your back about what bad parents you are.
So when there is a difficult topic and you aren’t sure what to do I urge you to do the following:
-Ask advice and opinions from anyone who’s opinion that you respect and would like to hear
-Sit down with your baby’s mom and talk it out
-Make the final decision on how to move forward
-Stand behind that decision and do not care what anyone else thinks from that point on
- Understand that money is important to a family, but your time is the only thing that matters to your child
Let me start by saying I LOVE MONEY. Trust me I am not sitting here telling you to quit your job and be a broke bum. Money is extremely important. It will lead to a better quality of life and more opportunities for your child’s future, BUT your time is way more important. I’m going to tell a quick true story from my life and maybe it will inspire you and prove the point I am trying to make here.
I graduated from college in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in consumer marketing. I had always imagined myself being a wealthy businessman. Right after graduation my girlfriend and I decided to move to a small beach town in Florida. We had both always wanted to move south, and we figured this was going to be our only opportunity before we started putting down roots. My girlfriend (now my wife by the way) got a job via phone interview to teach at a great school here, and we took that as our sign. I eventually landed at a large online travel agency called bookit.com. At first it was a pretty awesome job and I was happy. The pay was good, I took business trips to Cancun and Orlando, I got to work from home, I got a free ipad, iphone, and laptop. I was only 23 years old and I was quickly climbing the corporate ladder and becoming the big shot that I always wanted to be. However I quickly learned that all of the money and perks came with a price.
My phone rang off the hook 24/7. I was always on call. I had no time left to spend with my wife or friends, and I quickly became very unhappy. Even on weekends when I was supposed to be off I was still expected to work. Issues would come up all the time and I would literally have to leave the beach to go home and make adjustments to the website or meet a client for lunch etc. I think it was the time that I was forced to work on Christmas Day that I decided I had enough of this “businessman” life.
I began to think about what would make me the happiest, and I realized it was right in front of me the whole time. As I said my wife was a teacher. Not only did she love her job, but she had so much time off to do anything she wanted with. I figured out a way that I could have time AND money. I still wanted to be a businessman, but I realized that I did not want to be a businessman that made someone else rich. I wanted to either own my own business, or not work in business at all. I realized that becoming a PE teacher, although it was a pay cut, would allow me to have a job I loved, along with a decent base salary, plenty of time to start my own business, as well as time for friends and family.
I am obviously not telling all of you guys to go out and become teachers. That was my path and it worked for me, but I promise you there is a path for everyone. No dad should be stuck working way too many hours in a job they hate for not enough money. If this is you I would suggest trying to figure something else out so that more time can be spent at home with your family. Just to name a few real ways to make money on your own time…Become an Uber driver, start doing Ebay resell, rent out a spare room in your house or apt, figure out what you are good at and do 1 on 1 training for kids or adults, start a grocery pick up and delivery service, mow lawns, start a debris haul off business with your truck.
The list could go on forever.
Dads: In today’s day and age there is so much money to be made there is really no excuse for you to be stuck in a job you hate for 50 hours a week instead of home with your family. I mean c’mon you can literally learn how to do anything on Youtube. It will take hard work but anyone can do it, and it is worth it to put in the extra work for your child.
If you would like to make a change but aren’t sure what to do please feel free to shoot me a message or email. I would be happy to talk with you and try to help you figure out what your best option is!
- Remember that every single decision you make in your life from this point forward will affect your child
When men are young they all think they are invincible. It’s just in our nature. I would say guys between the ages of 15-29 really very rarely stop and think about what the consequences or risks associated with their actions and choices will be. Guys are generally wired to just just act now and think about it later.
In high school and college my friends and I did some INSANE things. I mean some really really stupid things that could have ended very badly. Luckily for me they didn’t and I am still here today writing this. I think a large percent of the male gender would say the same if asked. Go ask your significant other if he used to do crazy and downright STUPID things with his friends. 90% of them will say yes.
My point here guys is that no matter what your age is those days need to end for you right this second. As I stated earlier your life no longer belongs to you. There is a little one depending on you now to be there for them as long as you can. If you are in jail or dead because you wrapped your car around a tree driving home from a friends late one night, then there is a great chance your child will end up as one of the statistics at the beginning of this article.
Don’t do that do your child. Do everything in your power to make smart decisions for that kid.
Now that you have a child you need to ask yourself before every decision that you make “Will this benefit or hurt my child’s future”?
That was my top 10 pieces of advice for new dads what did I miss?
Comment below what you think the best advice for new dads is!
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Thanks for reading!