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Real Talk About Fatherhood from Dads Who’ve Been There

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Parenting is one of the most popular topics discussed in the cyber world today. And for good reason. I’ve got three children and welcome all the advice, encouragement, or knee-slapping humor about our tiny humans that I can get.

The thing is, the majority of parenting content on the Internet is currently through the voice of the mother. We celebrate that and want that train to keep on chugging, but I believe it’s equally as valuable to hear insights from the father.

That is why, after assembling a collection of wisdom from moms in a previous article called “Mom-versations: Parenting Tips from Moms Who’ve Been There,” I knew the next step was to seek out the dads.

And they delivered.

Fathers from all walks of life, from one coast to the other, from grown children to infants, responded to this one question in a recent survey I conducted:

“What advice would you give a new dad?”

Let’s dive into these terrific responses from several down-to-earth dads.

Parenting Advice from Dads Who’ve Been Around the Block

“Accept that having children is going to change your relationship with your wife,” says Jerome, a father of three daughters, “but whether it is for the better or for the worse depends on how we deal with it.

“Work hard to keep the romance alive,” he continues, “and accept that it is going to be more work now. It isn't enough just to have the mindset that you will ‘help’ whenever she asks. Share the responsibility.”

After two decades of parenting, Mike summarized his thoughts for new dads into these two bullet points:

  • Be all in as a dad from the very beginning!

  • When you're changing your son’s diaper, make sure you use the “shield” method or you will get sprayed!

Derek keeps the future in mind as he applies this advice while raising his sons: “Treat parenting like leadership training for tiny adults with limited brain power and adjust as they grow into actual adults. You’ll have had a more intuitive and purposeful method from day one. You’ll also expose weaknesses you probably didn’t know you had.

“When i look at it as a leadership and training thing, instead of ‘parenting’ which has so many connotations, depending on your upbringing, i find myself being a purposeful, intentional parent, instead of just ‘dad.’”

When Cory was asked what advice he’d give a new father, he went straight to the heart with these three powerful tips:

  • Get ready to get over yourself.

  • Be more selfless than you ever could imagine.

  • Be ready to make bigger sacrifices than you think.

Tom, a father of seven, echoes the call for intentionality with these tips:

“A healthy relationship between a father and his children can have such a positive impact on them as an adult.

“They don’t give participation awards to dads. You have to do more than show up. It won’t always be easy or fun but it will be worth it in the long run. Be present and active in their life when they are younger because that time slips away fast.

“When you go to the little league game, put away your phone and become his number one fan. When you sit through a dance hall recital for 3 hours just to watch her spin around for 3 minutes, the same dance she has done in the kitchen for the last 2 months, tell her how beautiful she is.

“Tell them you love them often.”

Dave, a licensed family therapist and father of two, added this for anyone about to enter fatherhood, “The simplest, most vital point for a first time dad is to love mom, openly and supportively, and take over baby care at least once daily for her. Her very natural focus will be on that new child. Your focus will have to be on the family.”

This final round of advice from Kyle is a great summary. He advises new dads to use “Loads of patience. Don't be quick to lose your temper,” he continues. “Raising a child isn't a 50/50 partnership. It's a 100/100 commitment."

Different or the Same?

So, how does this lineup of fatherly advice compare with our previously published tips from mothers? Is the advice similar? Vastly different?

I encourage you to take a look for yourself at the excellent bits of wisdom shared in our “Mom-versations” installment, but in summary, the two offer a completely different array of advice. Different, yet, complementary. Harmonious, even.

Now it’s your turn: What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on Facebook!

--Laura Harris


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