Fantastic Tips for Brand New Fathers

Finding out you are going to be a father for the first time is a life-changing moment. It’s as if a million emotions hit you at once. Joyfulness and excitement change to doubt and fear as the fateful day draws near. You question whether you are ready for this. After all, you still read comic books, watch cartoons, and eat Peanut Butter Captain Crunch cereal. You don’t remember your own father doing any of those things.

But then again, did your father relate to you, when you were a kid? Maybe you and your future child can bond on the things that make you unique. I used to be concerned about how I would be as a father. After a bit, I realized there are millions of bad fathers out there that seem to have no idea what they are doing. I can’t be any worse.

Below are a few tips for new dads to keep in mind as you enter into fatherhood. You might want to print these out and hang them on your fridge to remind you to take a breath and calm down now and then.

Tips for New Dads #1: Don't stress over your age
Am I Too Old or Too Young to Have a Kid?

I taught elementary school for ten years working with children mainly from five years old to 12 years old. During parent-teacher conferences my first year of teaching, a few of the parents were asking me for advice on how they should be raising their children. I would have been better suited to tell a doctor how to perform brain surgery at this point. I didn’t have a kid of my own and this was my first year of officially being an educator, so I came up with some basic things like getting them to bed on time or brushing their teeth twice a day. I had no clue what to tell them.

But as time went on and I approached my fifth year of teaching, parents would still ask me for advice several times a year. I still didn’t have a child of my own, but you would have thought I had 20 kids by the amount of advice I was spouting off. I was like Yoda sitting at the top of a mountain and sharing my supposed wisdom with the fortunate few. I had tips written on a sheet of paper for each of the parents and handed them out during the conferences, whether the parents wanted them or not.

During this time, I would have meetings with parents that looked young enough to still be in high school. They were merely kids themselves, and now they were responsible to raise one. I also encountered the complete opposite with parents that I would have originally guessed were actually senior citizens. I used to comment to others these couples would always have people thinking they are the kid’s grandparents. I quit saying this and my smile slowly faded when I was reminded that my own child will be graduating high school when I am 60 years old.

There is no perfect age to have a child. At least, not for us fathers. We don’t have a biological clock ticking away. There are wonderful young parents and there are awe-inspiring older parents. You just need to make the effort and commit to your family for the long haul through thick and thin.

Tips for New Dads #2: Drop bad habits
Monkey See Monkey Do

The phrase “monkey see, monkey do” has been around for ages. It means essentially for a father that your children will mimic what you do in life, both the good and the bad. You really must keep this in mind when your child is born. Your actions can greatly influence their behavior, so use this power wisely.

Get into the habit of being the best person you can possibly be once your baby arrives. Eliminate any bad habits that you might have. If you smoke, stop smoking now. If you tend to drink too much, cut it back. If you are overweight or even clinically obese, it is time to start shaping up.

Join a gym and start to become healthy before the baby arrives. This is just as much a commitment to your family as it is to yourself. My own father had a heart attack in his early 40s and it was all because he was not taking appropriate care of himself. He almost left nine children behind simply because he could not put down the unhealthy things and start exercising.

There are amazing exercise programs currently out there that will get you in shape in no time. But remember, exercise is only about 20 to 25 percent of being healthy. The rest is if you follow a healthy diet. With obesity running rampant in our society, won’t it be great knowing that your own child will follow in your footsteps of being a healthy and fit individual?

Tips for New Dads #3: Just be happy
Boy or Girl?

As first-time fathers, it is quite ordinary for us wanting to have a baby boy. We want to be able to play sports with them, watch wrestling, and work on our cars with them. With that said, you should just be happy that your new child is born healthy. Boy or girl, it doesn’t really matter in the long run.

I always felt like I wanted a boy first until after several years of teaching elementary students. It basically dawned on me one day that my favorite all-time students were almost always girls. They listened much better, behaved very well, and didn’t complain much at all. In fact, they would often bring me little gifts for no reason at all. This is when I wised up and realized boy or girl, I can’t go wrong.

Tips for New Dads #4: Help your spouse
Be Brave

There are going to be times early on when you have to be brave as a new father. The acts of bravery actually begin once you enter the delivery room with your wife. It’s like a scene from one of those Alien movies. Whatever you do, don’t pass out. You’ll be stealing your wife’s thunder and the story will be shared until you die. Your next act of bravery will probably be changing a diaper. Good luck with that.

Tips for New Dads #4: Trust your instinct and adapt
There Are No Set Roles

In my family growing up, my dad was the one to fear. He would yell first and ask questions later. To say he was the enforcer would be an understatement. I spent most of my young life afraid of him. However, it shouldn’t have been that way. Instead, my parents would always play their set roles. My mom would be there for school related things and my dad was always there ready to keep us in line.

Especially in this day and age, there are no set roles anymore. Your wife might be the breadwinner of the family, and you should be fine with it. Quick confession time, my own wife is a doctor and makes very good money. My friends would often ask if it bothered me that my wife made so much more than I did. They said it would bother them. However, I couldn’t care less. The good cop, bad cop, and breadwinner roles are a thing of the past. If you are a better cook than your wife, you can make the meals every night. Don’t worry about roles because everything is eventually overlapping anyway. You’ll be playing all the roles at different times. And remember, it is not babysitting if it is your own kid.

Tips for New Dads #5: Keep up with your responsibilities
Example: Neglecting Your Fur Babies

When someone new comes in the house, pets can feel a bit betrayed. A person gets so busy doting over their new baby that they forget about their best friends. Take time out of your busy schedule the first couple of days your baby is home and introduce your pet to your new kid. If your dog or cat understands that they are not competing for your love, they should welcome the newest member of the household in no time.

Tips for New Dads #6: Sympathize with your child
Example: Choosing a Name

Choosing a name for your new child is sort of a big deal. In fact, the hospital will not let you leave until a name is chosen. How it usually works is your wife has one idea for a name and you have a completely different one. Trying to bargain and compromise can frustrate even the calmest individuals. However, there are certain guidelines you should follow when choosing the best name for your new baby.

It is okay to make the name unique, but don’t go overboard with one that sounds like it came from another planet. Also, while you may find it cool naming your child Optimus Prime or Ultimate Warrior, the rest of the world may not.

In addition, try to avoid the unusual spelling syndrome. You may think it adds character to the name, but it can be awfully confusing. Think of the NBA player Dwyane Wade. Yes, that is how his first name is spelled. However, it is pronounced like Dwayne. I once had a student in my class whose name was spelled B-R-A-I-N. To most people that means his name is apparently Brain. Pretty gutsy to call your kid Brain from the get-go. But his parents would be quick to inform me that his name is pronounced differently than how it is spelled. They said that B-R-A-I-N is actually pronounced Brian. When did the duty of naming a child to signify that you can disregard all the rules of phonics?

Tips for New Dads #7: Learn from other dads
Classic Television Fathers 

If you need a bit more guidance on how to become a great father, go no further than watching classic television shows. Here are some shows that should be required viewing for first-time fathers.

Leave it to Beaver: Ward Cleaver is perhaps the best tv dad you will come across. He recalled what it meant to be a kid. While his wife June seldom understood why certain things would be embarrassing for Wally and the Beaver, Ward could always fondly relate to the situation. He was stern when he needed to be, but love the rest of the time. If you can be a father like Ward Cleaver, then you are doing something special.

Brady Bunch: Mike Brady not only was raising three boys on his own, but he decided to marry a lady that also had three girls. In the age of blended families, this show was ahead of its time. Plus, Mike Brady was all accepting of his new girls and never once referred to them as stepdaughters.

Andy Griffith Show: Andy Griffith played Andy Taylor on the show and was maybe the first single dad ever portrayed on tv. However, this didn’t stop him from being the best parent of all time. Not only did he spend time with Opie (remember what we said about unique names) doing fun things like fishing and sports, but he also made no qualms about disciplining him when needed.

Tips for New Dads #8: Be healthy
Live a Long and Healthy Life

One of the best things you can do for your family is to commit to an exercise program and a clean diet. Give your child a chance to know their father by sticking around for a long time. Furthermore, be active enough so you will still be able to have adventures and create memories with your child as they get older. Don’t be the father that hides away in his den all day and night. Join in with your child’s activities.

ryan headshotRyan Crawley
Writer, The Fit Father Project
Ryan is a fitness expert from Illinois with two decades of experience under his belt. Never one to turn down a challenge, he has taken every class any gym has to offer, even the Dance Kickboxing class. If 70s disco dance music starts playing, everybody should run for cover. You have never lived until you have kicked somebody in the head to Dancing Queen.

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