Ways to Survive as Dad

The first post was quite woe is me, bleak and whiney. For information I am not generally that way inclined, WordPress however does give me the opportunity to be. As an insight into my character I will describe myself in five words:

  1. Resolute
  2. Stubborn
  3. Obstreperous
  4. Positive
  5. Altruistic

The combination of these things means I can be a positively huge pain in the ass with the best of intentions. As a Dad taming these “qualities” has been hard and its gotten me into a lot of trouble.  So if I could do it all again what would I do different?

1. Mum is Always Right!

This is the golden ticket right here. Every bit of advice or input into raising our children has always been with the best of intentions naturally.  It’s just a given that Mum knows best and will do what they can for baby even if it means near killing themselves. Any interjection from Dad or seemingly better approach can directly countermand Mum’s rationale and thinking and this is bad as Dad is no longer being supportive.  Dad’s have a totally different view (obviously) we look holistically in caring for Mum and Baby as such our unique perspective perceives dangers of hunger tiredness or even outright exhaustion but to a Mum this is part of the job and any Dad slowing the train is working against motherhood (Mum’s do not tend to overly worry about Dad. Dads need to be available, well fed and be supportive to the burden of motherhood).  Now advice given by another Mum that is contrary of Mum’s view from is totally okay, they do not feel immediately unsupported as it has come from another Amazonian Mum. Just be on guard as Dad when the advice is not well received from another Mum as tears of “why is she so perfect?” can happen.  On occasion Dad might pass an opinion that is rejected outright and later proves to be right, if so never ever say I told you so.

My advice if you find a better way of doing things get a Mum to say it.

2. Do NOT try to compensate for Mum’s Mum

If like me you were mad enough to propose to someone who lived the other side of a country and sold them a better life outside of London then this one is a must. For years I have always felt guilty and tried to overcompensate as my better half sacrificed an awful lot to marry a brute like me.  Part of that overcompensation almost ended us a year or so before we got married, today I still do it because you know what I’m stubborn and Altruistic.  Should you be this bananas then don’t ever try to overcompensate for a new Mum who is deeply missing her Mum and family.  Do make it difficult for her to go back home as she needs.  As a Dad you can be there for Mum but you can’t ever provide the same level of reassurance and comfort as Mum’s Mum, as much as you think you can and promised to in your vows.  It’s also worth noting just how much you can learn being around Mum senior about your partner and the little touches that makes the motherhood journey really easy.

My advice personally chauffeur Mum’s Mum to your home and do the same in reverse as much as required.  Be prepared for tears when they part company by having tissues for them and you.

3. Do not Set Unrealistic Expectations

As Dad you will expect a lot from your new found family but mostly yourself. Don’t. Never expect things to go smoothly, parenting does not go smoothly the road is bumpy and full of potholes.  My experience from the few early milestones such as the delivery, breastfeeding, sleep routines, child’s character, potty training and weaning has always been wildly different to how I predicted with all positivity and reinforcing that positive attitude in Mum.  When the bars are set high the frustration of not reaching them is truely gut wrenching.  When you have already stepped into one and two above and still hit challenges it leaves a low feeling and perhaps failure.  Worst case when the expectations are missed the frustration breeds into your family from marriage to children.  Parenting is a wonderful experience, no amount of books or NCT will prepare to for it (I came in confidently as the oldest of three brothers and dozens of younger cousins) so do not let these or anyone else’s kids, marriage or family derail you from what you have.  Your relationship is built on something special keep hold of that and your children will be fine just let them dictate.  A happy Dad and Mum makes for happy kids, a challenged set of parents makes for challenging kids.  It’s fine to have ideas of how your life and children should be but keep the milestone goals long and medium term, what you do one week will change totally the next so make small adjustments to reach the goals but don’t change everything.

4. Take the Back Seat, Listen and Watch 

You might be the big cheese in work, you might be blessed to wear the trousers at home. When it comes to parenting though sit back and watch then follow the program.  This is an extension to point one where you might see an opportunity to do something better and seize the moment. No. This puts yo at odds with Mum all of a sudden you’re not supportive, secondly it opens the door for your kids to play GoT on your asses. Parenting styles will be different between Mum and Dad.  I am a total hard as who takes no prisoners with my daughter who has my same “qualities” many times I’ve punished differently or relented differently, there’s nothing wrong in that but it’s a good idea to keep on the same page as Mum. Being on the same page means they can’t play yo off one another and most importantly you don’t have “discussions” in front of the cherubs who will smell blood and weakness.  In keeping with point one it’s better to let Mum dictate as most likely the person on point most of the day, if you’re a fortunate Dad who can stay at home that might be different. For us I worked from home for my daughters first year thinking we are 50/50 sharents, more or less, given my character and learning the points above too late it’s made each milestone harder than it should at times and my daughter boy she is a master manipulator at three years old.

5. Being Dad Requires Selflessness

Mum’s are ethereal Demi-gods and should be treated as such.  As a Dad you will walk, run and stumble over may milestones. At times you will be brilliant and at times you will be quite frankly a dick.  For all the brilliance do not expect (see point 4) a standing ovation similarly for the lesser moments expect to feel terrible.  When you go the extra billion yards Mum will already have surpassed you and doesn’t have time to stop and cheer. I have fought through wars mentally and physically managing our children single handedly on occasion from Mum breaks, work trips, sickness and because I love Dad time; however my wife gave birth, tortured through breastfeeding (which has landed us in hospital) and even when you’re home Mum is juggling so many balls including the ones you drop.  So here it is praise Mum, worship the ground they walk on, take the punches and don’t wait for gold stars.  When others come around and marvel at Mum and sideline you that’s the way it is my friend, Mums are ethereal Demi-gods.  Seek other Dads to regale your bold ground breaking adventures and find comeradery, they will most likely want to talk sport though and forget.

6. Maintain Friendships

As our daughter was born I was infatuated with being a Dad and the very best Dad and partner.  Before I knew it six months past and through that epic journey I negated my friendships to the point they are non-existent. The friends I had are still around and many have their own kids or remain eternal bachelors however when I find myself at a loose end it’s come to the point I don’t know what they’d be doing and it seems strange to call up just in case they have plans I can’t crash.  Despite the multitude of Whatsapp groups the divide can’t easily be mended without real effort on my part to reintegrate.  My own Dad seemed to fall into this pattern, he revolved around the business and us and rarely made time for himself so it is natural for me to do the same, you become your parents when you have kids.  Equally I have reinforced this over the last three years believing in a higher purpose of being a Dad and feeling massively guilty taking leave.

Friendships help through the good and dark times of parenting. They are an escape and support when you can’t confide to Mum or you’re having problems with Mum. Do not rely upon digital friendships find that time for face-to-face.  Of course ensure Mum does the same, don’t piss off every day and come home leathered as it’s not in the terms and conditions of your parental contract and kids will serve punishment.

That’s what I can think of at the moment, we’re in the delivery suite or son was born weeks ago thanks to Sepsis. I’m tired and rummerating and hope the above can help someone else whose gifted like me.  With my son I am trying my hardest to observe the above, I’m sure I’m going the polar opposite which might prove wrong as time goes but that’s atheism journey of parenting for you I guess.

Any views, thoughts or experiences you’d like to share Dads and Mums please let’s have it. Even if it’s to point out my Dicksish ways as that will make me a better Dad and that’s all I want to be.

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