The language of this post refers to a mom, dad, & baby. Clearly there are many wonderful versions of the parent-child relationship. I hope a connection can be made no matter what your parenting structure is.

Sooo your lady just told you she’s pregnant. A true and heartfelt congrats to you. Parenting is a trip and you’re already on it. Here are a few thoughts about being awesome and avoiding grey hairs for as long as possible:

Lesson #1: Having a kid is the best job you’ll ever land.

Ok, there are 5o reasons why the perfect job metaphor might be wrong for parenting, but there are 100 reasons why it’s the right one. Everyone says having kids changes your life forever and that’s no joke. Just like getting the perfect job, you walk in with some preconceived notions stemming from what you learned in college, your life experience, and advice from your drunken uncle. But the best teacher is reality, real experience. You stumble, feel confused, try new things, have successes, and repeat. If you’re a new parent, consider yourself the dad intern. But understand that you’re also the boss. You may not feel like the boss very often but you’re definitely the boss of being the dad. Have some patience with yourself but always attain to get better. Don’t quit, don’t get fired, constantly keep moving up your own proverbial ladder.

Lesson #2: Check your Ego at the door

Parenting is life’s most powerful test of your Ego. Being a good dad isn’t really about you. No limelight, no center stage. You are the holder not the kicker, Goose not Maverick, Steve Wosniak not Steve Jobs. If you see yourself from the start as having a VITAL role but not needing the limelight, life as a dad is going to be much easier on your psyche.

Lesson #3: Early parenting is 40% about your kid and 60% about your relationship with your lady

You need to learn this one early and often. As the kids get older, the percentages will shift but parenting will always be as much about how you interact with your partner as it is about your child-parent relationship. Yes, all the jokes about crazy pregnant and postpartum women (look up postpartum she expects you to know that one) have their merit and you’ll feel like you’re walking a tightrope a lot. Own that tightrope and maybe even leverage your amazing composure to get some make-up lovin! Be patient with your partner and expect her to be patient with you.

Lesson #4: The kid just doesn’t like me

Nobody seems to mention it much but here’s a newsflash>> If you aren’t the provider of food your newborn may not be all that into you. For those families where mom breastfeeds, this phenomenon can be the single hardest part of being a new dad. My advice, check your Ego and remember you’re role. Every time a tired mom hands the little one to you and the baby immediately starts crying you’ll want to scream. And your next natural reaction will be to withdraw. But you got this. Remember two important things:

  • You like food and your kid does too. That’s it, food=comfort and Mom=food. Understand that and make peace with it but don’t let it stop you from engaging in every way you can.
  • Don’t get angry, don’t immediately give up, you got this. If rocking your crying baby for an hour is what’s necessary, do it. Go down the list of things you can solve: change the diaper, swaddle, switch holds, sing, let baby suck on your finger, rock, get that loud rattily toy. Solve everything you can and find peace inside yourself. Believe it or not, you’re doing well for baby, mom, and yourself by making the best of what you can do.

Lesson #5: Own Your Role

The better you understand the first 4 rules, the easier being a new dad is. Now that you get it, Own It. Be the diaper changing Boss, start feeding as soon as baby is ready for a bottle (the middle of the night feed is the holy grail of dad role), kick mom out of the house to hang with her girls for a few hours, take the stroller on a run with you. Decide that you are going to master the dad role. Make sure that the balance in your parent-parent-child triangle never shifts further away from you just because you didn’t try. Your role is just as important, it’s just nowhere near as glamorous. The best part is that the more you own it now the quicker the dynamic will become more balanced. You’ll be able to provide food at some point, there with be baseball catches, jokes told, rocks skipped, and bikes rode. But it all starts here. Even if now your job is to give back rubs, make dinner, rock a screaming baby, and change the diapers, you’re building. An intern has to start somewhere.

About the Author

Jeremy Goodrich

Parenting sainthood didn’t come easy for Jeremy Goodrich.  He clawed his way up using handed down diaper inserts and Karo syrup.  He honed his skills with 3 ornery kids of his own and many many questionable students in his  3rd & 4th grade classroom.  He hung up the school teacher hat a few years back to start Shine Insurance Agency where he educates adults about things like liability coverage and personal umbrellas.