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What it Takes to be a Great Dad

June 9, 2009

CTPParent09-06-cover

Originally titled, “4 Myth-Busters for New Dads” by Perry P. Perkins

Published in Connecticut Parent Magazine, June 2009

Full Article Below:

What it Takes to be a Great Dad

Most new fathers carrying around some nagging assumptions about what it means to be a Dad. Many times these myths and misconceptions are based on our own experiences with our fathers, other peoples experiences with their fathers, or how we believe the world views fatherhood.

The problem in, you aren’t your dad, you aren’t their dad, and you aren’t some dad that’s been written to produce the most laughs from a live television audience.

You’re you.

The biggest misconception out there is that there is a single ideal for being a “good father.” Never believe it! Fatherhood is as varied and unique as the individuals that make up a family, and you can be the best possible dad for your family by shaping your goals to match that uniqueness, and not anyone else’s stereotypes.

Here are four common myths that new dads are often told…

4. Dad, you’ll never golf again! (or fish, or play drums, or whatever you “do”)

The Myth: You know all those fun things you used to do? The football games, the fishing trips? The poker nights? Well forget it, you’re a dad now!

Busted: Like anything else in life, having a baby will probably throw you off balance for awhile, but rest assured, balance will be restored. At first, you’ll probably just want to spend time with the kid anyway (be warned – some of your friends might struggle with this) but soon enough you’ll adjust.

Your “guy time” might be a little less frequent, but with some judicious planning you can still do all the things you loved to do. The key, and this is what a lot of guy’s don’t get, is to make sure that mom gets time to enjoy herself as well. To re-word a familiar phrase, “When mama’s happy…everyone’s happy!”

Do what you have to, to keep mama happy, and she won’t begrudge you a night out with the boys. Also…don’t forget those date nights with your sweetie…that’s what babysitters (or Grandma & Grandpa) are for!

3. Dad, you’re a man…you don’t need support!

The Myth: Real men don’t ask for help. Asking for help means you’re a failure, so you better figure this whole “fatherhood” thing out for yourself!

Busted: This one might have flown when our dads were waitin’ around for us, but not anymore. Go to Google and type in “Tips for Dads” or “First time fathers” and you’ll find the answer to just about any question you can think of, and more tips than you’ll ever have time to read.

There’s also a growing number of “Dad Authors” out there. Armin Brott happens to be my favorite, and he has a series of books that will guide you, month by month, from conception to sending your kiddo off to school. He also has a great website, Mr. Dad, with FAQ’s for every age-group. Check it out!

You can join one or a dozen Yahoo Groups for dads, as well.

Best of all, find a couple of your buddies who have been there, are still there, or are in the same boat you are.

2. Dad…guys aren’t “nurturers!”

The Myth: Men go out and kill the brontosaurus, women stay home and take care of the babies. If YOU took care of the baby, it’d probably grow up to be a brontosaurus.

Busted: Men and women may express their feelings in different ways, but that doesn’t mean that men don’t have feelings, don’t value feelings, and can’t pass those feelings along to their children.

It’s all a matter of what the child perceives. If momma is the one who always wipes away tears, give hugs, and rocks her to sleep, she’s naturally going to gravitate to mom when she needs comforting. If both parents are nurturers…well, you’ve got a lucky kid!

1. Dad, let’s face it…Dads are Dumb!

The Myth: Dads can perform surgeries, build skyscrapers, and fly jumbo jets all day long, but as soon as they walk through the door, their brains turn to jelly and they become bumbling buffoons that you wouldn’t trust with a sharp stick.

Busted: Despite the bad press we’ve gotten from the likes of Homer Simpson and Al Bundy…men are smart, and capable, and forget what you’ve heard, men can even multitask.

Men tend to focus a lot of energy on things that interest him (work, cars, sports, etc) and very little on things that don’t. It’s not that you’re a dumb dad, it’s that you’ve never learned to be a dad (just like moms aren’t born knowing how to be moms, and they’re not, we aren’t born knowing how to be dads!) You didn’t rebuild your first transmission without a manual, you didn’t play football with our someone teaching you the rules…why would you think that something a huge and diverse as fatherhood would just come naturally?

So, go to the library and check out some books, go online and join some message boards, best of all look around you and find the guys who seem like great dads…take ‘em out to coffee and ask ‘em some questions.

Side note: In all fairness, guys, some of this one comes back on us. “Playing dumb” is a great way to get out of an unpleasant responsibility, but…in the long run…it’s not worth it. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life being treated like an idiot?

So, bust these four common myths! In fact, bust any myth that tell you there’s an inherent reason why you can’t be a good dad. Read up on fatherhood, ask questions, get advice, believe in yourself and be the best dad you can be.

Be unique.

Be you.

XXX

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