How I’m Becoming the Best Dad Ever (And You Can Too!)
6 weeks ago, I got a new job: dad.
I already know this is the most important job I’ll ever have. I’ve been looking forward to it for years. And I’m not the only dad who feels this way. Every Sunday, all over my neighborhood, I see gaggles of dads – hand-in-hand with their daughters or sons, pushing strollers, playing in the park, wearing matching clothes. It’s wonderful, being a dad in this day and age. It’s wonderful being a parent. Shifts in gender construct and family dynamics are opening the job up to wonderful, new interpretations and possibilities. Tasks once reserved solely for moms, like changing diapers, feeding and even household chores are now more easily distributed by facility – who enjoys and performs them best – and not simply by gender stereotypes. At least that’s the consensus in my family, and my home is all the happier for it.
You can imagine my confusion, then, when, 9 months ago, I began approaching some modern dads for advice on my soon-to-be-born bundle of joy. “Do you have any tips for a new dad?” I would ask. The answers almost always bummed me out. I heard all manner of things meant to scare me (“You’ll never sleep again.”), pacify me (“There’s nothing you can really do the first year.”) or lure me into a sexist frame of mind (“Dads are always wrapped around their daughter’s little finger, get your wallet ready.”) I will concede that many of these statements are based in truth. I know I’ll get less sleep with a child. I know I can’t breastfeed my baby. I know children (boys AND girls) are expensive. HOWEVER, dads, when you offered me advice, why did you collectively choose to put such negative, unhelpful, archaic thoughts into the universe? Why are so many of the parenting blogs, books and apps I read written for moms? And what about my initial inquiry? How can I be an incredible father? These questions, over a series of sleepless nights, unknowingly led me to a new job. Well, not a job exactly. A quest to become The Best Dad Ever.
While parents of old accepted without question the role and identity that times dictated, my quest will lead me to define and own a parenting role that allows me and my family to flourish. One that is more participatory, more positive, that shakes off masculine and feminine stereotypes, allowing me to be the passionate parent I strive to be. My quest will lead me to search out parenting strategies and techniques from specialists, parents, mother-in-laws, and the tips that work best for me, are the ones I’ll pass on.
Along the way, I’m sure I’ll know my fair share of struggles. Those are worth sharing too. To commiserate, to laugh at how little I used to know and to let the parents out there know it’s alright to make mistakes. That’s why I’ll also be confessing my deepest, most embarrassing parenting secrets.
At the end of the day, though, regardless of the mistakes I’ve made, I have to remind myself to breathe. Parenting is a serious quest, but it’s a fun one too, to be pursued lightheartedly and playfully at times. There will be rainy days, filled with heartache I’m sure, and on those days, a little dose of humor can go a long way. That’s why it’s essential I take the time to craft some of the best dad jokes ever. For the times when moms and dads just need a laugh. They can share ‘em with their kids too, in a tense moment, or a happy one. I’m sure it’ll be a real hoot!
And that’s how I plan to become the Best Dad Ever. I hope parents will join me. The capacity of humans is so much greater than the confines of gender stereotypes. Every parent has the potential to be the best. Every child can be raised to defy the world’s expectations. That’s what I hope waits for me at the end of this quest: for the world to be filled with more good people – fully realized, passionate, kindhearted humans.
For more jokes, tips and confessions, follow along on Facebook and Instagram @bestdadeverquest. #bedeq #bestdadeverquest
For more resources on personal and professional development, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.