If you and your partner are expecting you are about to begin your parenting journey, your father journey. You will need to do the following things:
1. Invest in yourself and be invested. In other words, take some time to research your new role by talking to other men your respect and find out how they met the challenges of fatherhood. Ask about the hard stuff like how to keep a marriage vital while raising kids. If those resources are not available talk to a male therapist or join a men’s group to get input from heathier men.
2. Be attuned. That is tune in to the emotions of your spouse and children. This is a tall order for most men as we are not raised to attune to the feelings of others. Listen to what your spouse is saying and better yet seek the emotions in what is being said. Be curious and ask questions. Being a new Dad and having a new born is a big task. Most of all it is showing up with an open heart to talk and holding them with love when they are upset and crying. They will not understand your words, but they will understand how you feel about them.
3. Be present. This new role calls for an extra effort to show up for your family. It might mean taking a few minutes to relax, breathe deeply and them be with your family. Be ready to listen to your kids and their concerns. Have fun and play with them! That is what men bring to their kids that is essential: “Mothers stroke and Fathers provoke.” Taking a walk and talking is a good way to get fresh air, exercise and connect.
4. Be a “Yes man”. In the sense of staying positive when talking to your family. And even if you need to say “no” come up with alternatives so that there is a way to affirm the wants of the family member. If you say no to a TV program that puts your child’s bedtime too late then offer reading a favorite book or chapter of a book instead. Work with your toddler and give choices, not ultimatums.
5. Your child is not you. Their actions, loud outbursts, or demands to have their own way are not reflections on your ability as a parent. They are kids and are learning about limits and boundaries so don’t expect them to be little adults. Their bad behavior is not signs of a bad job of parenting.
6. Be an example: Let your kids that It’s OK to make mistakes. Let them know that that is how we learn things is to not do them perfectly. Be a modeler of this by acknowledging when you make mistakes and talk to them about how you learn from your mistakes. It is important that the know that perfection is not attainable and that’s OK.
7. Be open to help: Just like in starting a new job you are not expected to know every aspect of your job. It is a good thing to ask more experienced parents, grandparents for input. You are in charge of what decide to do, and you can listen to what others have learned in their parenting journey.
As your kids grow you will be growing as well. It has been said that if you want to learn about patience then become a parent. As you undertake this journey you will find that in parenting as in marriage that it is a “lesson in humility.” So be humble and learn from your loved ones. As you open yourself to the vulnerabilities of your kids you will find that your own vulnerabilities are not weaknesses but places where you can connect to these important others.