This group consists of Dads from around the world with members from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA to name just a few.
In the group we chat about blokey stuff but mainly about being first time Dads or veteran Dads, the world of parenthood and subsequent blogging that comes with the territory. We laugh. We cry. We virtual handshake and pat each other on the back. We swap stories, ask for advice and simply hang out.
Before my daughter was born, this blog and my previous blog did not exist. I was not a member of any groups focused on fatherhood on or offline, and had never heard the term “Aussie Daddy Bloggers”.
When I found out we were pregnant I felt scared beyond belief and yet super excited all at the same time. I was constantly thinking “Will I be able to earn enough money to support my family?”, “Will I be a good dad?”, “What hobbies and daily interests will I have to give up or curb?”. I tell you, the feelings of dread, wonderment, loss, panic, excitement and fear were suffocating at times. Could my life really change that much?
I guess I just didn’t understand my emotions. I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt the way I felt and having little resources or knowledge about raising a child didn’t help. It’s a generalised but recognised fact that when it comes to deep and meaningful conversations, guys tend to shut up shop and put on a façade.
Rarely are men open to expressing their feelings I guess for fear of appearing weak, not in control or feeling like an outcast. I wasn’t any different. So at first it was awkward and difficult to talk to other blokes about the meaning of life and love. In real life away from my blog, I have a small group of quality mates, but not all are dads. I wondered if they would comprehend the sleepless nights or the excitement over a baby’s first poo in 3 days. How could I share my worry about whether I was putting a nappy on too tight or if the baby was rugged up too much to sleep during winter? I wondered how to find the right balance between time to raise my baby, ways to support my family, be there for my wife and yet try to attend to my own needs and see my friends. In my mind, I was trying so hard to hold onto my old life yet I was so excited about my new life and couldn’t work out how to mesh the two together.
A Loving Family
Growing up, my own father was around for the first 3 years of my life and circumstances dictated that I didn’t see him again until I was 15. For me personally, not having a male figure involved in my early years has made me realise the importance of being involved in a close knit family, so I want to be there for my daughter. Later when the relationship between my father and I grew, I learnt from him in many ways and he then taught me about respecting others beliefs, values and decisions. These are traits which I really hope to pass on to my daughter.
I see my Facebook group as my ‘close-knit family’, in a way. I look to them for advice, to offload my thoughts and for general feedback on fatherhood. Looking back now, to have this support network and even some basic, quality words of advice when my daughter was first born and just prior, would’ve helped me greatly to gain self-confidence and assurance as a first time Dad.
I can now say I’m a proud “Aussie Daddy Blogger” and being a member of group forums focused on other Dads and their experiences has meant my database of ideas, knowledge and advice has been broadened greatly. Watching a new born child grow up into a wonderful human being is an eye opening experience that words just can’t describe and it’s been awesome being able to share that experience. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to not know what I don’t know.
A big shout out goes to every one of you who have helped contribute to my posts, provided advice or who have shared a virtual beer with me. I can’t recommend enough the importance of finding a like-minded group for first-time Dads whether it be online or offline. You’ll thank yourself at 2am or at nappy time, believe me!
I recently approached a collective of other Dads online with a poignant question on an area usually targeted towards Mums. My question was short and simple yet thought-provoking…’What is your best tip for a new Dad?’
The amount, quality and diversity of responses I received from around the world were amazing with numerous Dads more than happy to share their wisdom. The knowledge base ranged from personal experience to professional responses from those with a parenting, relationships or family counselling background.
Reflecting back to when I was a new parent, I really just wanted to know that I was going to be a good, understanding, caring dad, who didn’t need to ask 1000 questions constantly about parenting. I felt that I would be able to do it all but when I found that I needed help I felt it was ok to ask.
When my daughter was born, I was shit-scared to put it bluntly, and, as a first time Dad, I guess I just needed to know that I was going to be ok. That everything was going to be ok.
Two years down the track, and plenty of trial and error later, I’m pleased to say I certainly haven’t broken my child which is always a bonus. I think it was a mixture of sincere ignorance and constantly educating myself on a daily basis that kept me busy and focused enough to stop wondering how I was doing.
I know these tips would’ve been music to my ears around that time too so in no particular order, here are 18 tips to keep you on the ball as a first time Dad:
1. Enjoy the process:
There will be times when you will lose yourself in the moment with your little one – cherish it. Enjoy every minute and you will learn as you go.
2. You ARE going to be ok:
There may be times you feel totally clueless, overwhelmed and that you are completely in over your head. Stop what you are doing and take a breath, everything will be ok.
3. Look after and focus on yourself, your wife or partner and your baby:
There will be a lot going on once the baby arrives. You will be tired and trying to adjust to new routines and a new lifestyle. It will be really important to take a moment to focus on what means most in your life now. Remember to hug and kiss your wife or partner and remind her why you love her. Show her through words, touch or simply helping her with the baby or around the house. It will be important that you both remain in tune with each other and keep those love tanks full. This will then have an indirect positive affect on your baby.
4. Don’t forget to put yourself in the picture:
With so much emphasis on the new baby in your life, don’t forget to take time out to recharge your own batteries. This may be as simple as taking a little time out of your day to focus on who you are and how you now contribute and inspire your small family.
5. It is ok to be shit-scared:
When a new baby arrives on the scene, it will be a sudden, yet brand new experience for you and your wife or partner. There is no real guide book for your individual child and no matter how much good advice you receive from others, you may still feel the need to escape. The new change and those new feelings you are experiencing are normal. You do not have prior knowledge or experience being a parent so being shit-scared and uneducated in this area is natural.
6. It will be hard to let go and ask for assistance: Remember, you do not have to be superman and try to manage everything. You will be strapped for time to look after your household, attend work and care for baby on your own. Allow others, such as relatives and close friends to help when they offer or ask for help if you are not coping. Friends and family have no issues helping out with bringing food or cooking dinner, cleaning the clothes or dishes or playing with your child whilst you shower. You will find a routine, yet those first few weeks will be too much to manage on your own.
7. Take time off work and hobbies to get to know your baby: You’ve probably heard it before but babies turn into children then adults far too quickly. So even if only for a short time, if you can, take leave from work and suspend your other activities. Use that time to get to know your baby and ultimately better understand your role as a parent.
8. As much as you don’t want to, roll your sleeves up, grab a peg for the nose if you need to, and change that nappy (or diaper for my northern hemisphere friends):
It will be a shitty task (pun intended), but you will be the man of the house and earn super brownie points for changing a nappy full of poo. It will be especially hard when you just get home from work when all you want to do is slip your shoes off and just relax. But when you walk in the door and your wife hands you a baby and says “Change nappy please”, remember the brownie points.
9. Be patient:
Everything a baby does and how they respond is as much learning for them as it will be learning for you. Being a parent, you are learning new skills with every new event that happens in your child’s development. Babies have fairly basic needs and simple ways they interact with the world. They only know “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I am not feeling well”, “I’m thirsty” and most often express this through crying. You don’t immediately know all the signs for your baby’s needs and at times can feel frustrated. Give yourself time and count to 10 when these upset or frustrated feelings surface. Use a process of elimination starting with the basics – food, sleep or nappy as usually it will be one of these 3. You will manage and you will be ok.
10. Smile lots:
Natural happiness is a mood changer for people of all ages. So smile. **your smiling reading this sentence aren’t you**
11. Kiss your wife!:
Kiss her now. There doesn’t need to be a reason.
12. When your baby is being born, do EVERYTHING, your wife says:
The baby’s birth is a difficult and awkward time for us men. There will be obstetricians, midwives and, quite possibly, family members attending. Despite the crowd, you may feel like you’re separated from all the chaos. Do not take it personally. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do for your wife and she needs to be in the best state, physically and mentally, to bring your child into the world. Ensure she knows that she’s safe and secure with you being there even if she may seem demanding. This is her way of asking for her immediate needs to be fulfilled. The more positive feelings your wife has, the more positive the birth.
13. Everyone will want to hold your baby:
Be the bouncer for your child. After the birth, it will be an exciting time for everyone including your family and friends. This is also a time when literally everyone may want to hold your baby. Just know that it is ok to say “No, another time maybe”. You may be feeling a little overwhelmed and just trying to soak it all in or perhaps you simply do not want everyone to hold your baby. You can suggest that the baby needs to get used to mum and dad or that it is sleep time. This will give you the time you need to bond with your new family. Perhaps ask the person if they can come back to hold your child later or at another time.
14. Encourage your wife get some sleep:
You’ll earn brownie points again for this tip. Your wife has gone through a strenuous yet amazing experience and she needs to recover. You will learn that sleep helps your baby to grow and likewise sleep will help your wife with her recovery. It is suggested that parents should sleep when the baby sleeps.
15. When help is available, take a nap:
Regular sleep will be a thing if the past and you need to recharge your batteries. So when you notice your patience running thin or you’re not coping, ask someone you trust to look after your baby even for a couple of hours so you can catch a quick nap. You will need it.
16. Ask your wife what she needs, and provide that for her. She will love you for it:
There will be so much going on in a very short period of time and your wife or partner will be experiencing all you are and then some. She will be battling fatigue, sleeplessness, coping with being a new mum and trying to remain a loving partner. So, until the new routine is established, time is super precious. By you asking and helping to fulfil her needs so that she can have a bath, a nap, or just have some time out to relax, you will be so much more appreciated.
17. Take lots of pictures, but don’t forget to be in the moment:
Having a new born around is a really exciting time and you will want every moment captured on camera. The best way is to have the camera at the ready. Saying that, be sure to experience the moment in ‘real time’ and not behind the lens of the camera all the time. Know when to shoot and when to just enjoy and capture it in your memory bank.
18. Don’t be hard on yourself:
This is probably the hardest aspect of being a new father. You will feel like you need to be everything to everyone. However, you may find you feel resentful, hurt and not appreciated if you decide to take it all on board yourself. None of us are super dads, despite what you might think. Enjoy the moments, cherish the times with your new family and be happy to hand over the reins on occasion. A burden is lightened by a burden shared by everyone.
Do you have a first time dad tip to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Reading through some Facebook updates yesterday and came across a picture shared by one of my friends on his stream.
Bad Quote On Child Discipline
The picture I found stopped my train of thought.
I felt I knew the answer why and was not surprised it came to me straight away.
It was not my method of parenting. Nor is the quote, a statement I agree with.
I am of the belief that using physical means to re-educate a child is not about the child at all it is about the parent attempting the discipline.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a Crunchy Dad. This style of parenting is not easy to explain in a couple of sentences and this link to Little Crunchy Dot Com goes into more detail. Once you have read that list I respect and follow most, but not all those principles. I am a very modern Dad too, so I would find it rather difficult without having modern conveniences. In essence, my personal view is I see spanking a child for disciplinary purposes as a form of assault.
Reflecting back to being a child with having this style of discipline used on me. There were no behavioral changes I know of, nor was there any change from me after asking my Mother, Father, Aunties, Uncles & Grandparents whom all used this technique on me and my sisters and cousins. My behaviour came to fear the belt or strap, yet no change in my behaviour came from being in ‘trouble’ or committing acts that were ‘wrong’. So the punishment was futile. If I did something wrong as deemed by my parents or guardians, sufficient enough to get the strap, I got the usual 5 or 10 lashes. Yet, through getting this discipline, I would still get in trouble and get another 5 or 10 lashes.
This was the done thing 35-40 years ago and I bear no ill will on my parents or family. They used the best skills they had for raising children and also learnt much from how they were raised by their parents. There have been many discussions between us over the years and lots of tears too, on both sides of the family. Its hard seeing that your mother and aunties are struggling to provide the best care they can give and realise that hitting you with the strap wasn’t always the best means of discipline. My Dad struggled with discussing it with me as my uncles would also use bravado to explain their measure of it or clamp down and not talk at all. Hard subject to discuss.
Feeling bad about something is REALLY hard to talk about. Even harder to know you were doing something and it didn’t feel right, but its what you knew.
Knowing there has been plenty of and serious studies done, why does this philosophy still exist? Although used way much less, if at all these days why is it still viewed by some as a means of discipline?
It is about power. They person with the strap has it, the child does not. Plain, simple. Power struggles happen all the time, parents feel they need to sometimes be in hard or instant control of their children. It is hard, wrangling children who are still finding their way in the world. Sometimes parents feel they need a child to stop and behave, right now. This thinking is due to a parent wanting to control their child. So by using physical means of measuring discipline, it is also an adult attempting to show dominance over a smaller, weaker, not so knowledgeable human being. Screaming is a lesser form of punishment being metered out. Torturing a child is unconscionable. Yet also, these diabolical events still occur.
When I discipline my daughter I use the original philosophy, which is to train and educate. I help to nurture, guide and provide training to give my daughter the knowledge, skills and understanding to know certain things and be educated in certain behaviours. I spend time helping my daughter achieve and be enriched as the adult she will become through her journey that is childhood. Almost all of her knowledge will be known internally or externally over time. By encouraging, at times rewarding and respecting her and her feelings, she will be on the right path of her journey.
If I was to use physical discipline, my daughter would not know behaviours appropriate and more than likely would not be skilled with the set of attributes to help her in life. My daughter would learn to fear me when I am angry, or when I would use some disciplinary measure, like spanking or a strap. Therefore, she would most likely be fearful of men, ergo, trouble with relationships with males.
She also would not respect right and wrong and may start to ‘run off with a bad crowd’. This would stem from her base of fear and she would not want to be around me as if she got into ‘trouble’ then it would be out with the strap. She may also copy my behaviours and see that violence, anger, fear, intimidation and yelling as a form of getting what she both, needs and wants. She would more than likely grow up being defined more by her will in life (re: being very self centred) and striving for her needs only and masking polite behaviors.
So I know what I would like my daughter to be like by nature and it is certainly not through discipline by violence.
This is not the way I would rather raise my pride and joy.
We have not met yet, but I am sure when I am old enough to understand I will be excited to meet you and mummy as soon as I arrive into the world. I am only newly created and I will take about 40 weeks until I am ready to meet you. I wanted to write you this letter to let you know how I feel and express my aspirations as a child who will be growing up under yours and mummy being my parents.
I look forward to learning from mummy, all my other family members and you. I also look forward to getting to know and learn from all those new friends I will make over the years. Intime, I will develop new skills and get to explore and understand the world around me.
It is several weeks passed now and I am developing in the womb and I know if you were to take a picture of me I would look exotic and alien like.
I will not understand the importance of you looking after me in those first few critical months, but I will come to learn that through your love, care, gentle and nurturing style I will learn that I can trust, love and also experience life that although there will be sad times, there will be more than enough good times as well. This will put me in good stead whilst growing up and being the person I will become.
It is now a couple of months and I am now resembling what a human foetus looks like. If I was prodded my hands would close and my fingers would curl. I am only 6cms and mummy cannot feel me moving yet. Mummy is most likely experiencing ‘morning sickness’ and if I could hug her to comfort her, I would. You daddy, will have to fill in for me for now.
Its after 3 months and I am growing strong. The doctors have scanned me with that sonic thingyma-chig and declared that I am growing ‘as expected’. Apparently ‘as expected’ is a good thing. If I could I would be able to feel your hand on mummy’s belly and sense that your love for me is growing. I am also looking forward to playing ball with you and catching tag and playing on the swings in the park. The real pearler at this time is you don’t yet know I’m a boy.
5 to 6 months have now passed Daddy and will not be long until I get to meet you. The frequent visits to the midwives and the scans mummy has been getting are still showing that everything is going as expected and I am growing wonderfully. I wonder if your thinking about when I go to school will my first uniform fit me well enough? Kindergarten will be fun, I will be making alot of my first social friendships outside of family and will most likely end up with life long friends. Wow, we will have some stories to share with you Daddy. At this time you also know I will be a boy and have known for a while.
I’m reaching the eight month mark and your excitement for my arrival is palpable. It is not long until I will be ready to come forth. I am getting ready to be in ‘position’ and it will still be some weeks until I appear. I am your first born to be and I am getting excited too. Highschool will be exciting and scary at the same time. I think I may lose some friends, but that’s OK as I will make some new ones as well. I reckon that I will like sports and will be undecided about playing football or soccer or cricket.
Nine months pass and your now getting impatient for me to come. Mummy is getting Braxton Hicks movements and that’s helping to get into position to come and meet you. University is a hard decision to make at the moment as I am dealing with my second girlfriend and we still don’t know if we want to go overseas before doing Uni. I have part time employment, a beat up car that runs that you helped me get and I want to look at investment properties. Dad you have shown me so much in my life. I am grateful for many things and especially lucky, you are my father.
Wow, it is now not long until I will be born, only days away. Even after the wonderful and at times tumultuous life we have shared, I am super proud that I am your son. I reckon now that entering the grand stage of life and getting married, it will not be long until I see you smile fiercely when I announce your going to be a grandfather. You will also most likely tell me your as proud of me as when you found out I was going to be and your dad told you he was proud of you.
It is one day to go until I come into the world. But Daddy, something has happened. I don’t know why or how, but the birth of me will not happen the way it is expected. I know that all those wonderful events in my life I have expressed with you in this letter, will not be. I am so sorry Daddy, your expectations of a wonderful and beautiful boy you will raise will not come to pass. The medical staff in the hospital have scanned and found that my heart no longer pumps. I am hours now from birth. Daddy I am so sorry I cannot grow up into the man you had hoped for me to be. I will look asleep when I am born, but I will not be sleeping.
I love you Daddy.
Thats OK son. I still got to see you come into the world. I see you looked like you were sleeping and I held you for the longest time. I love you and I still think of you every day.
I love you too, son.
Photo attributed CC 0 http://pixabay.com/en/baby-child-hand-innocent-children-102472/