5 Things is a new content series where Playground Dad contributors share 5 tips with new and expectant fathers.
Looking back over the last 3+ years or fatherhood, both the actual and prenatal/expectant, there are a few things that have taken me by surprise.
#1 – Whenever I talked to little kids or babies before I had my own, I never got into goo-goo gah-gah baby talk; I preferred to speak to kids the way I speak to anyone, only with less profanity. I assumed I’d be the same when I had my own kid. Nope. As soon as my son arrived I was babbling gibberish just like every other parent on the planet. It just happens. There’s no sense in trying to be too cool for this stuff.
#2 - I have plenty of gear for the job, but I still find myself forgetting to capture images, videos, or audio clips of my son. Thinking back on the first three years, I wish I’d taken more video or audio, mainly to capture how he talked—or chirped, grunted, and squealed—before he could really talk. I thought I was going to be really on the ball about it but I wasn’t.
#3 – I had plenty of theories and ideas about effective, ethical fatherhood before I became one, and by far the most surprising thing about being a parent is how little time there is to recall those ideas or theories when I’m in the moment. Things happen too quickly; kids often need feedback in a moment—not a minute or three—and sometimes I don’t provide the kind of feedback I might if I had time to mull it over. This isn’t to say I can’t use foresight or develop strategies or learn from my mistakes. I can. But most of the time I have to act without putting a lot of thought into it and without having much certainty that I’m doing it right. That’s just the way it is.
#4 – For a long time I’ve known about the biological imperatives that humans have as parents and why it makes evolutionary sense that we (and many other species) are willing to sacrifice ourselves to ensure the health and survival of our offspring. But I didn’t know how that would feel, or that I would feel that instinct so strongly and so matter-of-factly.
#5 – It’s better than I could’ve imagined.
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