Becoming a father is the greatest privilege a man can experience.  Feeling the warm delicate skin press against you for the first time is a humbling moment.  And as you feel tiny laboured breathes and a small hand grasping around your finger, it’s a moving feeling to think “Wow, this little person came from me!…” 

And with it your responsibilities… and priorities change forever. 

6 Tips for the First Time Father 

If you’re about to become a new dad, make sure to follow these tips to help prepare you for this life changing experience: 

  1. Be fully present 
  2. Be on the same page as your wife 
  3. Enjoy the time you spend with your children 
  4. It’s doesn’t matter what you do, just be there 
  5. Forgive yourself and be compassionate with your mistakes 
  6. Don’t forget your first role – being a lover 

Be fully present 

The best way to enjoy the moment, is to make sure you are fully present at all times around your child. 

This isn’t just about physical presence, such as being in the same room, but being mentally present. 

If you find yourself distracted by the TV or scrolling on your phone, then you’re not really giving them the time and attention they deserve. 

It’s worth remembering you are missing out on moments you’ll never get back. 

Tips to be fully present: 

  • Switch off the TV, put the phone away upstairs. 
  • Get on the floor and play with your child and their toys. 
  • Read your child a story. 
  • Do creative activities like colouring, painting, Play Dough and Duplo bricks. 
  • Ask them questions about the fascinating world they are learning more about each day. 
  • If you find your mind drifting, stop yourself and focus your attention on something your child is doing. 
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is father-daughter.jpg
Playing on the floor with my daughter. Image © James M. Lane

Be on the same page 

The dynamic in your household changes when you bring a baby home for the first time.  It’s no longer about just doing what you want, and you need to remember to support your significant other to ensure you both do the best job raising your child. 

It’s a vulnerable time for you both as you try to make sense of the change, experiencing doubts as a parents. 

These issues can be lowered or resolved by ensuring that you are working as one team.  On the flipside, if you aren’t working together this can cause tension in a marriage. 

Tips to be on the same page: 

  • When your child is being chastised by your partner, ensure to back them up, not contradict what they are saying. 
  • Anticipate the needs of the house, whether it’s preparing baby’s bottle or cleaning. 
  • Support each other – share stresses, frustrations etc without judgement. 
  • Establish an agreed approach how you are going to raise your kids – everything from what time they are allowed chocolate at, to technology usage. 
  • Talk through any grievance you have about yoyr partners approach only when they have gone to bed. 

Enjoy the time together 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from fathers whose children are now adults was the regret they didn’t spend as much time (or no time) with them because they were too busy working or consumed in their own personal interests. 

Therefore I’ve made it my goal to be as involved as impossible. 

But in case you haven’t heard – children are challenging, and if not managed right you may find you are getting little enjoyment from the time together. 

Therefore, it’s important not just to be present, but also that you can enjoy spending time with your children.  

Tips to enjoy time together:  

  • Do activities and encourage your children to tidy up afterwards. 
  • Be prepared to stop doing fun activities as a consequence of misbehaving. 
  • Spend time researching activities you can do at the weekend or when you’re not working. 
  • Ask your wife to take over if you need to step back because you’re getting stressed out. 
  • If you find you’re going to respond to your child with aggression leave the room and only return when you’ve recalibrated yourself (tip for doing that here). 
  • Absence makes the heart grow founder – do on occasion go out with friends, this will help reduce burnout, and make you more eager to spend time with them. 

Just be there 

My neighbours spend money like there is no tomorrow.  Come Christmas day I see their kids running around with the fanciest toys and at times it’s filled me with envy that I can’t give my kids a lavish lifestyle where they want for nothing. 

My feelings of inadequacy are put in perspective by my kids, because they aren’t bothered what I give them, they just want me there. 

I can make my kids laugh like crazy when I become “the tickle monster”, a beast who appears when children don’t listen to basic commands like brush your teeth, and gives a good tickling to ensure compliance. 

Yes, you may not be able to afford top of the range toys, take them on luxury holidays, regular meals out, or trips to theme parks – none of it matters, just be there. 

Tips to just be there: 

  • Ask them questions. 
  • Make them dinner. 
  • Get involved in play. 
  • Come up with your own ‘gimmicks’ – characters that will engage your children and make them laugh. 
My family. I am present and we are happy. © James M. Lane

Be compassionate to yourself 

When you’ve not had much sleep, have pressures of work, and other problems, you may find you overreact and blow up when your kid starts nagging at you impatiently. 

Or you may have had a stressful day and decided you don’t want to deal with your kids so end up scrolling Twitter for half an hour as an escape. 

These types of situations can make you feel like you’re a bad dad, which I’ve come to realise isn’t a correct way of assessing your abilities’ as it’s a very black and white way of thinking about your parenting skills. 

There is no such thing as a good or bad parent, and my research into imposter syndrome has made me realise the reality is it’s more about different shades of grey – you have your good/bad moments and times of strength/weakness. 

The key is to learn to forgive yourself and remember that you’re human. 

There is a point your kids will drive you to act in a way that isn’t you. 

Tips to be more compassionate to yourself: 

  • Talk about yourself compassionately – if you find yourself saying you’re a bad parent because of something you did, challenge that assumption. 
  • Talk to other parents, share experiences. 
  • Kids learn from example, if you think you behaved inappropriately, apologise and explain why that was wrong. 
  • Find other outlets to control aggression. 
  • When you make a mistake forgive yourself, learn from the mistake and forgive yourself. 

Don’t forget your first role 

We all have many roles in life, and when your first child is born you get the opportunity to embrace a new role – being a daddy. 

This role comes with such an immense amount of responsibility, it can dominate your other roles, which you may neglect and even forget how you’re supposed to do it. 

Remember your other important family role – as a partner, a husband, and lover to your wife.  Don’t become a couple that are living like asexual roommates raising children. 

Tips for reigniting your first role. 

  • Have a night when the kids have gone to bed where you just talk to each other. 
  • Do social activities that enhance communication like playing a board game, rather than doing ones that stop it (such as TV and social media). 
  • Have a date night. 
  • Keep yourself in a fit, desirable shape. 
  • Embrace touching – touching is a way of enhancing your relationship, and keeping attraction, a simple stroke of the hip, or dancing is a way of keeping physical attraction to each other. 
  • No technology in the bedroom (including TV’s). 

Conclusion – Enjoy the moment 

6 Tips for the First Time Father

There will come a day your children will be grown, independent people.  They will have responsibilities and maybe even kids of their own. 

You will no longer be their source of dependence, and believe it or not, they could even meet people they love more than you. 

Therefore, it’s important to remember this time you have with them won’t be forever – be with them, and enjoy the moment, because you won’t get the chance to do this important role again. 

Love your children until they no longer need you. 

Wishing you the best in your success. 

James @Perfect Manifesto 

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5 thoughts on “6 Tips for the First Time Father 

  1. Quality post as always. I myself don’t think I have what it takes to be a father, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, eh? At least I know I’ll have some tips here to refer to. Thanks for this post, James!

    Liked by 1 person

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