To welcome rookie dads into the fold this Father's Day, let's take a look at five of the biggest mistakes us veterans know new dads may make.
1. Playing dumb.
This one is a classic. We've all done it. I think we may have overshot our goal with this technique. Originally, it was a brilliant way for us to get out of doing stuff we didn't want to do, because you know, we don't know anything. Which end of the bottle do we put in junior's mouth?
We can do better guys. Besides, after a while of using this technique, there will be an issue that arises that we actually care about, and our spouse won't even ask us our opinion. Why? Because we are just too dumb— or at least we played it that way.
2. Waiting for the magic.
New dads, I know the feeling. You're in the hospital, waiting for that rush of emotion to sweep you off your feet. Maybe they handed out magic fairy dust while you ran down to the hospital cafeteria. Either way, you don't feel anything magical inside besides the stomachache from hospital meatloaf. The truth nobody remembers to mention to new fathers is that special bond with your child is built little by little. Each small experience you have with your babe helps that feeling grow into something special.
3. Learning on the fly.
There is no doubt our days are full. After a long day, we probably want to sit down, kick up our feet and maybe watch some sports or read more about our favorite hobby. However, you need to carve out a few minutes to learn more about being a dad.
Although our bodies are born with all of the right equipment to create a child, raising one in today's world is hard. The good news is that ever since Al Gore invented the Internet, we have more resources than ever at our disposal. So if you think there is an area your child needs a little help in, or a concern you have, much like the old TV show The X Files, the answer is out there.
4. Neglecting your well-being and that of your family's.
This one is huge and applies in all directions. First and foremost, take your responsibility as a parent seriously and never neglect your child.
Additionally, keep an eye on mom, as reports state 10-15 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. However, most experts feel it is a higher percentage. Dad, you may not see it coming, but estimates range from 10-25 percent of new dads getting postpartum depression. You are not immune.
Be vigilant in making sure you and your baby's mother are getting exercise, proper nutrition and as much sleep as possible. Hopelessness, anxiety and mood swings are just some of the symptoms. If you think either of you may be experiencing this, talk to your doctor.
5. Sitting on the sidelines.
This is the distant relative of point number two. You share DNA with your child. You will see this come through as time progresses. But if you kick back and watch mom take over, you'll probably be hurting your relationship with both of them.
Times have changed. You need to get in the trenches. Find your role in your family to become an active parent in your children's lives. Most of all, realize, as the adage says, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
While being a new parent isn't as serious as say war, where hot metal flies by you and there are bombs overhead, there will be heated words flying between parents and stinky diaper bombs exploding all over the house. Parenting is a tough job. It always has been and always will be. Kids require a lot of time and effort. And for once in our lives, there isn't "an app for that." But if you are willing to give the effort, you can become your child's favorite superhero. Isn't that what we all wanted to be when we grew up?