advice for fathers to beNow that Mother’s Day is officially over, the next (approximately) 30 days are the lead in to the one day where most people take time out to give Dad a lil’  bit of extra love.

This will especially ring true for all the men who will be celebrating their first official Father’s Day (like Mr. Spradley), or found out recently that they will be fathers by this time next year.  One of my younger brothers’ fits into the latter category.   At 25, he’s expecting his first child.  My oldest daughter was born the day before my 26th birthday, and I was born when my father was 24.

Nevertheless, I didn’t have an older brother to “give me the real” about how life was going to inevitably change.  Some of these realizations I’ve come to through trial and error.  The rest are knowledge that’s been shared with me, or that has recently occurred to me. Here’s my advice for fathers to be.

1. Life isn’t over, but it will be on hiatus for a while.

While preparing for the baby’s arrival, get as much stuff done, whatever it may be, as possible.  The impending birth should be your main focus.  Right after that is anything you want to accomplish i.e., finishing college, or that last hurrah with the fellas.  It’ll be a good year or more before some normalcy returns.

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2. While working to keep the stress level of your girl/fiancé/wife down, do the same for yourself.

Because she’s “with child,” her total health (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) must be considered.  You don’t want anything to affect her too much, because it will affect the baby also.  At the same time, remember that you’ll be going through changes as well.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself because she’s going to need you.  If you’re overall health suffers, what good will you be to her, or your child?

3. If you have concerns, share them.

It’s said so often, but communication is very important.  When it comes to the family y’all have started, talk about what may bother you.  She should do the same.  Talk about how you want to raise the little bundle.  Any fears or uncertainties should also be shared.  Being on the same page with the impending life change will greatly enhance y’alls ability to weather the curveballs that life will throw.

4. Since you’ll be the pappy/fiancé/husband, you’re the backstop for your family. Can your shoulders handle the weight?

Admittedly, it’s a tough spot to be.  When things are going good, it’s gravy.  But when they’re bad, will you be able to handle it?  When it’s more month than money, or your girl decides she wants to work part time to enjoy the baby’s first year, what are you going to do?  Also understand that you’ll be looked to/at if things are good or bad.  It comes with the territory of being a protector and provider.

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5. Teamwork really does make the dream work.

As much of a cliche as this statement is, it’s also true.  If the two of you can work together, it’ll be easier for both.  Where you’re weak, she may be strong.  Be humble (and wise) enough to lean on her if you need to.  I’m pretty sure she’s going to do the same.

6. No matter how close she is to her folks (especially her mom), make sure she, and you, realize that you two are the baby’s parents.

This is sorta like number 5.  Be present and be active for her and the baby.  Appreciate the help that will undoubtedly be offered, but be proactive in participating with child care.  If you don’t, she may begin to resent you, and some in her family may as well.  If “they” do, you’ll have more problems than just an upset lady.

Lastly…

7. Enjoy this journey.

What you’re embarking on is not easy, at all.  Some days you’ll want to throw stuff (and people).  Other days you’ll wonder how you could be so blessed.  It’s all part of the journey of having a family.  Your outlook on life will play a big part in how you view the days.  Just know that at the end of them, you can only do what’s in your power to.  The rest you have to leave up to God.

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Good luck!

-D.G.

Is there any other advice that you can think of that a father-to-be, or new member of the father club would need?