It’s over five months since my second daughter decided to grace us all with the pleasure of joining us in this beautiful universe.

This made me contemplate – what does it actually mean to be a father?

When you have your first child, you quickly realise they don’t come with instructions – no matter how many Google searches performed trying to gain clarity on the world’s most cliched parenting question:

“Is this normal?”

Your growth as a parent comes through trial and error.

Apart from the basics (feed them, give them a good routine, don’t let them play with knives), there is no set route how a child should be raised.

Therefore, if you can master these basic skills, by definition, you can be considered a good parent regardless of background.

There is an element of parental resilience that gets built up from the experience, feigning off everyone’s bullshit opinion, as friends, family, colleagues offer unsolicited advice on solutions to problems, even giving views on thing you weren’t aware were an issue in the first place:

“… she is still wearing nappies at two years old? GASP Aren’t you concerned that she might be a little slow?”

Guidance that is part “perfect parent hack” and part tinge of judgement, there is nothing like listening to your whole social network offering advice what you should be doing, even the ones without kids (especially the ones without kids).

Character…

Having a child, exposed abilities in my character I never realised existed – an unending endurance, being patient, understanding, strength, compassion and, caring for a human being in ways I will never love anyone else.

All this gave a sense of false confidence when my second child came along.  I was ready this time.

This was a grand mistake, an assumption based on the fact, because of having previous experience I knew it all – been there, done that, I have my own guide on how to raise children.

But then you realise the ideas you mapped out, don’t quite work the same, being bluntly reminded children aren’t programmable robots with the same set of instruction – they have their own needs, quirks and, personality.

This leads to you cradling your child, walking up and down trying to keep it together, telling yourself how sombre and stoic you are in the face of pressure.

Yet, all it takes is one night of sleep deprivation and your rationality as a father goes from Atticus Finch to Jack Torrance.

“Here’s Johnny…”

Dark thoughts go through your head, which you thank God social services cannot prosecuted you for, and all the ideas you had on how to handle the situation goes flying out the window.

The plan in tatters, all that’s left is you clutching that little person tightly ready to scream

“What is it you want?”

Development…

For a moment I remember a book gathering dust somewhere called, “What to expect: the first year” that my mum bought when our first child was born.

We haven’t referred to it once, because you know, when you have a baby screaming it’s head off for the witching hour (more like witching five hours), grabbing a thick, 400 page, tome, is every parents first instinct.

Since becoming a father, I’ve sought networks to assist in my development with this role and whether it’s reading the millionth anecdote from doting, how you saved my life, you’re my everything dads, to those fathers on a mission to save their children against a sick society, the qualities of getting fatherhood right are pretty simple:

  • Presence not presents
  • Be the example
  • Build your own character
  • Take time to recharge and grow

I touch on some of these ideas in the following posts:

Be the hero they see

Three ways to invest in your child

Good luck dads, we’ve got this!

This post title was based on this Huffington Post article:

What it really means to be a father


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3 thoughts on “The Way of Dad: What Does it ACTUALLY Mean to be a Father?

  1. First, congratulations! It’s amazing how you can never imagine life without your children, isn’t it?

    Second, great post. It’s also amazing how all of the difficulties of being a first-time parent forge you in that crucible of uncertainty into something resembling a father, so that when the second child comes around, brother, you’re ready!

    This sums it up wonderfully: “Having a child, exposed abilities in my character I never realised existed – an unending endurance, being patient, understanding, strength, compassion and, caring for a human being in ways I will never love anyone else.”

    I’m also with you that a lot of advice new parents get needs to be taken with a healthy dose of salt. It’s well-meaning, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. That said, my wife and I did find the “What to Expect” book quite useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! There was a point in my life I wasn’t sure I wanted kids, now I don’t know what I would do without them.

      Going from first to second time parent, something I found was how much better I was managing time for personal interests, it took me many months to establish gym/writing routines for number one. Yet when my second was born I was back at the gym within 48 hours…

      The character growing ability of children is amazing, pre-kids I could never understand parents forcing urgency into asking that question

      “When do you plan to have kids”

      But I do find myself preaching, I guess because they’ve changed me in ways I never expected, on the merits of children.
      And all jokes aside about the “What to expect” book, especially in the early days, it would probably have been better to refer to a book from professionals for advice rather than seeking support from online parenting (mother) communities as the advice was downright nasty, judgemental, or raised more questions than solved!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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