So the lady broke the news, eh? Imagine that, you, a dad. Hell, you can barely even take care of yourself. How in the hell are you going to take care of a 7-pound human that can’t even figure out how to hold its own head up. Don’t worry, the Dudefluencer men’s community is here with our Manly Man’s Guide How to Be A Great Dad.
First off, congratulations. This is a big deal, and I want to start by telling you that you’re going to be just fine. Unofficial step number one for how to be a great dad: take a deep breath and relax. Trust me, people wayyyy dumber than you have had kids, and they did just fine (for the most part, at least). The biggest thing you have going for you right now that no one else does is that you’ve got me to guide you through this, so sit down and grab yourself a notepad and take notes for a bit because Uncle Dave’s about to lay some real knowledge on you.
The Manly Man’s Guide How to Be a Great Dad
In the last three years, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned that an 8-pound human is fully capable of dropping a deuce the size of a silverback gorilla. I’ve learned that a two-year-old can be the biggest asshole I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve learned that when a toddler says, “Daddy, gotta go pee-pee,” I turn into Usain Bolt in a second flat.
I have learned a lot about myself over these last few years. Still, there are a few things I think stand out on a personal level that I haven’t really ever shared before, and if I’m writing a guide on how to be a great dad, I think I should share them.
Pregnancy is hard!
You can’t think about being a great dad without understanding your better half. You need to understand that pregnancy is hard for some women. Some women love being pregnant. For some, being pregnant is this beautiful thing where teddy bears are hugging inside her belly. Unicorns are blasting rainbow turds for her to walk on everywhere she goes. For others, my wife, for example, pregnancy, is hell on earth.
Your partner may be spending months tossing her cookies three to four times a day and spending the rest of the day trying to recover.
If your wife is one of the first group, the rest of us hate you, and you should just skip to the next bullet point. If your significant other is one of the second groups, remember never to mention anything about the first group. Those women don’t exist to you, and they indeed don’t exist to your child’s mother.
In fact, the only time you will even think about mentioning the existence of women who enjoy pregnancy would be if a meteor broke through the earth’s atmosphere and smashed into one of their happy little “we love pregnancy” meetings. At that moment, you and your lady can have a small glass of champagne and celebrate the small victories in life.
On second thought, don’t even mention it under those circumstances either.
On a serious note, though, boys, pregnancy can be challenging, like really freaking hard. The worst part is that there isn’t much you can do to help her out.
If you’re wondering how to be a great dad, start off by being a great husband. Be there to rub her back when she is throwing up. If you are like me and struggle with the smell of vomit, fear not, pregnancy puke usually doesn’t smell. Trust me, if I could be in the room with it, so can you.
One of the biggest things you can do to help during pregnancy is to encourage her to eat and stay hydrated. Talk to your doctor about medications for morning sickness. Some of them work better than others, and you may have to try a few before you find one that works for her. So lesson number one for how to be a great dad: be a great husband.
You are going to question yourself.
The weirdest thing to me is that the hospital essentially just hands you a baby and is like, “Okay, you brought a car seat, right? Sweet, here you go, take this home and don’t come back unless it breaks. Talk to a pediatrician if you have questions.” It’s a super strange feeling to just suddenly have a baby around, and no amount of classes can prepare you for it (they help though, take some classes).
This is a terrifying day for a new dad, and I don’t care if it’s your first or third; it is scary every time. You’re going to wonder if you have it in you to be a dad (you do), or if this was really such a good idea (debatable, but it probably was), or if you even have the slightest idea what you’re doing (definitely not but that’s part of the fun).
All these thoughts are totally normal, and they never go away. You want to know why your dad spent so much time on the shitter? It’s because he was working his way through all these thoughts in the only private place he had, and as you will soon find out, you probably even took THAT away from him.
It’s okay to question yourself, and if you need it, our Manly Man’s Guide How to Be A Great Dad encourages it. Emotional fitness requires levels of introspection, being a great dad does too. Find out what questions you have, and even talk them out with your close male friends or even join a men’s community. You want to know how to be a great dad? By just reading this article and accepting you’re continually growing should be the first step.
Your new baby is still figuring it out.
I am going to level with you. These next four months are going to be the most challenging four months of your life. You don’t know what you’re doing, the baby won’t sleep, he always seems hungry, you always seem hungry, and everything just seems to be a whirlwind of chaos in your house.
There’s going to be a giant mess everywhere, and nothing feels in your control. Welcome to being a great dad. It’s hard, dudes, but something clicks at that four-month mark, and it starts getting more comfortable. You will begin to adjust to working on less sleep, and that baby will start figuring shit out.
See, the thing you need to remember is that this little guy snuggled up on your chest is really freaking dumb at first. Sure, he’s cute and all, but he doesn’t know shit! He is brand new to this world, and for the last few months, he was living a super sheltered life inside another human being.
All this day/night nonsense doesn’t make any sense to him yet. You may be learning how to be a great dad, but he is learning how to be a human. While it’s going to suck, there’s nothing you can really do about it. When you look at it that way, it’s a lot easier to cut him a bit of slack when he’s a bunghole.
Besides, wait until he is a toddler, THEN you will see what a bunghole he can be.
It’s okay not to love fatherhood all the time.
I want to start off by saying that being a dad is a fantastic thing. I love being a dad. I love being HER dad, but sometimes I don’t like it if I’m honest with myself.
People always get taken back when I tell them that, and quite frankly, it draws more than a few dirty looks. It’s like this taboo thing that you aren’t supposed to talk about, but the fact is that being a dad is a life-altering event.
Being a dad fundamentally changes how you have to go about your daily life, and sometimes it sucks, even if you love your kids. I would die for my daughter without even thinking twice, but sometimes I just want to play a video game in peace. I’ve learned that it’s okay to say you aren’t enjoying every minute of fatherhood in the last three years.
It doesn’t make you less of a man, and it doesn’t make you a bad father. It makes you a normal human being with emotions that can fluctuate. No one (including yourself) should make you feel guilty about that. Learning how to be a great dad requires you to accept that you’re not going to love being a dad 24/7. You can admit it, sometimes it stinks.
You want to be a great dad, then you need to accept that you can sometimes be super insecure. This is a big one.
I have always loved being the center of attention, but being a dad has shown me that I can be really insecure. I still think about how people are looking at me when interacting with my daughter in public.
I like the smiles I see people give me when they see us in the grocery store, and I’m letting her pick out fruit that she wants. I like thinking about how they must think I am such a good father. At the same time, I explain that we can’t get that toy she wants because it isn’t in the budget, but if she wants to add it to next week’s budget, we can discuss it at our family meeting.
It is important to me that people notice these interactions. I realize that this is super vain, but really it’s just a matter of superficial insecurities. I want people to see me interacting with my daughter because I must get that validation.
I want to know that I’m doing a good job. It’s bullshit, though, because I already know that I am doing a good job. I just want people to notice.
Dads have skills too!!!
How to be a great dad tip: dude, don’t be “Mom’s helper.” Be the dad. Jump in there head first and change diapers. Take your shirt off and get some skin to skin time in with your baby.
It’s great for his development, and it feels incredible (he’s so soft!). Remember that you have a ton of knowledge to give, and you have a role to play that doesn’t just revolve around doing what you’re told.
Trust your instincts as a dad and give it everything you’ve got. When all is said and done, your kids will remember that you were involved. Be proactive in raising your child, and especially helping out your partner when they need it most.
When you bring your new baby home, and people start coming to visit, they always say, “if you need anything, just holler.”
Seriously, take advantage of friends who offer to help. Ask them to come to keep an eye on your mini-me so you can take an hour nap. Ask your parents if they mind coming over and cooking a meal for you (preferably something big that you can freeze).
Want to know how to be a great dad? Accept help, dudes.
I know it feels weird and we are used to doing things on our own, but if a friend of yours offers to help, let him help. Lean on people who have had kids before you. They understand what you are going through, and they aren’t judging you for your messy house.
My wife and I always make a big tray of baked ziti whenever our friends have a baby. It’s easy to freeze in portions, and you can just pop it in the microwave when you want to eat it. Things like that go a long way when you have a newborn.
If you don’t have much support in your area, do this yourself before you have the baby, so you will have it in the freezer when he is born. But remember, great dads, are only as strong as the community around them. Accept help when you need it, and reach out to those who are willing to support you.
Don’t forget to love your better half.
Remember to not be so wrapped up in your baby that you forget about your wife/girlfriend/baby mama. She has needs as well, and you need to be sure that those needs are being met.
I’m not talking about sex, guys, a human being just exploded out of her; she’s not up for it.
I am talking about sitting on the couch together after the baby goes down for the night and watching a movie. I’m talking about snuggling in bed together and just loving each other.
She feels just as lost and alone as you do right now, make sure you remind her that you are lost together. Communicate with her. What did I say above about how to be a great dad? Be a great partner too.
Emotions are healthy.
One of the biggest things I have learned though is that I am an emotional guy. I cry about things.
It’s kind of strange actually, but things that never made me cry, suddenly do. I get choked up during movies now that ordinarily wouldn’t get me.
It’s like becoming a dad made me this entirely different person who wore his emotions on his sleeves. I used to think that was a bad thing, but I think I’ve kind of learned to just embrace it. Emotional courage asks you to be honest with your emotions to make difficult decisions. Accepting your emotional honesty is vital to becoming a great dad.
Masculinity doesn’t mean stoicism. You aren’t less of a man because you cry at movies or choked up when you see your kid struggle or get excluded. Men have emotions, and there isn’t anything wrong with showing them. Growing up, your kid will learn how to deal with their emotions from watching you.
An essential rule for how to be a great dad: teach your kids that it’s okay to show emotions. Positive masculinity goes a long way in child development. I want my kids to know that dad gets sad sometimes and that sadness is a perfectly normal emotion.
Just be there!!
This is my final tip for you because I feel like I have gone on way longer than I intended to.
Now I know why there are books written about this shit. Long story short, boys, just be there.
When all is said and done, your kid won’t remember what you got him for his birthday every year. He won’t care what kind of house you provided or whether he had the coolest sneakers or clothing. What he will remember is that you were present in his life. You were there laughing with him when he did something funny. You tried your best to get to every one of his or her dance routines and sports games. You were present at the moment and made him feel that he was loved and wanted every step of the way.
The secret to how to be a great dad: it’s all about being there guys.
Embrace this new adventure, dudes, and give it everything you’ve got. It won’t be easy, but it is so worth it. Your kids will grow faster than you think, and it’s incredible watching them develop into their own person. They will love you unconditionally if you give them the same. They will also piss in your cheerios (literally) for like, no reason at all. Try not to get too angry with them; they’re weirdos.
If you have daughters, remember that you are the first man they will ever love. They will look at you the way you treat their mother and how you treat them and base their opinion on what is an acceptable way to be treated on that. They will literally fall in love with you and learn what it means to be loved when toddlers. Take advantage of those days and use them to teach her what is acceptable from a husband.
If you have sons, know that he is watching everything you do and he will mimic it. He will also take cues on how he should treat women by watching you treat his mother. He will learn how to interact “with the guys” by observing you around the grill with your friends. He will know to feel insecure when you judge him for doing something “Girly,” and he will learn to support others when you support him.
You’re going to be okay, bro. I believe in you, and your kid believes in you. Go out there and kick parentings ass.
These last three years have been incredible for my development as a man. I have grown from a goofy kid to….well a goofy adult. I have learned how to embrace who I am and be open to the world. I have learned that if I want my kids to feel comfortable expressing themselves in the world, I need to show them that I am comfortable doing that.
Having a kid (and a wife who loves me for who I am) has really helped me embrace who I am and share it with the world. Quite frankly, that has been the most generous gift anyone has ever given me.