What He Said (advice for new dads)

Jeff was asked to send along some advice for our friend Peter, who is about to become a new dad.  His note was so great that I thought I should pass it along.  Whether you are a new dad, an old-pro dad, or somebody’s favorite uncle, read and enjoy.  And have a great Father’s Day!

Dear Peter,

Wow. Beth has given us a tall order.  Advice for a new dad.  My ADHD brain starts to fire on all cylinders.  After sifting through a bunch of practical stuff, I’ve got two slightly less practical ideas to share.

  1. You are the right dad for your kid.  If you have ADHD and love trains and hate snails, then God will use that.  Either, those very things will be points of connection for you and your baby, or they will be ways God shows you that you can love something completely and totally foreign to you.  You have everything you need, as gifts God has already given you or as gifts he will give you when you need them, to love and raise an amazing human being.
  1. Kids come wired to believe that the world is magical – that it is filled with creatures visible and invisible.  That it is spiritual at it’s core.  The cynical, materialistic world sucks out this life and leaves little behind but a shell. They may reject it later, but I encourage you to invite your children into a story that is big enough to remind them where they came from, show them how to live and point then to where they are going.  So pray for and with them.  Tell them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Live as though their character matters more than their test scores.  And then pray some more.
Now, since my brain fired off a ton of practical ideas, and the boys had a few ideas of their own, here is a more random list:
  • Cherish the sounds they make.  It won’t be long before they change.
  • This exhausting, sleepless, why-the-heck-did-we-do-this period doesn’t last forever.  It is only a season and passes more quickly than you might imagine.  Take lots of pictures.  Make recordings.  Use your iPhone movie app.  You’ll want to remember this.
  • Do whatever it takes to make your wife feel like a great mom.  Even if she doesn’t have a clue what to do most of the time, you can trust her.  And you trusting her will help her trust herself.
  • Take him/her with you to home depot.  Carpenters and plumbers love kids.
  • When in doubt, call up your pediatrician in the middle of the night.
  • Pay attention to everything the baby days and does. (from Ezra)
  • Buy clothes. (from Zach)
  • Start a 529. (from Tara)
  • Get up in the middle of the night when it cries. (Zach)
  • Notice everything the baby says. (Ezra)
  • Play with the baby a lot. (Zach (are you noticing a theme in their responses?))
  • Remember that you are trying to raise a great adult, not a great 3-year-old.
  • Don’t diagnose your child on the Internet.
  • Avoid spending money on anything that promises to make your child more clever, more virtuous, or more beautiful.
  • Remember, your baby isn’t more amazing than other kids.  (You won’t really believe this, but you should act as though you do in public so as not to embarrass your wife and bore your friends.)
  • When washing their hair, pour the water right on their heads.   They get used to it eventually, and it helps them tolerate a lot of stuff later.
My last piece of advice: Don’t try to do it alone.  Lots of people love you and want to help.  Including me.

 

  • Bill Novitsky

    Great stuff Tara. I particularly like the second bullet point. I remember thinking, with each new ‘Phase’ in our daughter’s development, “is it going to be like this forever?” and now I realize how quickly the time passes and wish I could make it last a little longer knowing that, soon enough, my daughter will want nothing to do with me. Funny, isn’t it?

    I just discovered your blog this morning and am really enjoying reading it.

    Bill


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