Some of these lessons were learned from previous dads, and some I had to learn on my own. There are endless words of advice I can give to a new dad, but if I had to pick ten right now… this would be the message:
1. Keep your voice down
The more you yell, the less likely anyone would respect you. They may fear your, but they won’t respect you. There should be a shock collar for dads to remedy this, but until then, take my advice and keep your voice down. You set the tone, so when you talk low, they’ll keep their voices down so they can’t miss a word. Use body language, like the “you know you messed up” face, or “get over here now” face before you talk in this ridiculously low tone; or simply walk up to them with either look.
2. Say “I love you”, but don’t over do it
If you don’t already say it, start saying it. Don’t assume your kids know you love them. They need to hear you say it. On the other hand, if you already say it, stop saying it so much. For most of us, when our mothers say “I love you”, we be like, “yeah mom love you too”. However, when our dads say the same thing (while dropping us off to college or some other milestone), we end up all tears with a wet shirt and runny nose. Ration the “I love you” talk ya big mush.
3. Watch your alcohol consumption
Is your home decor empty Mickey’s wide-mouth and Hennessy bottles? Do you down a six-pack of whatever every Sunday during football season? Is your recycle bin the biggest in the neighborhood? I may have lost some of you with that last question, but the point is… they are watching you. Meanwhile, in school they are learning that alcohol is a drug. So, to them, dad is a drug addict! And they are going to grow up and be just like you, or your druggy girlfriend. Do you want them to be drug addicts? This goes for anything you can smoke as well.
4. Give random hugs
Some kids don’t like to get all mushy, so when they sense a hug coming, they may avoid you. Let your hugs be random… unless they open their arms to you first. Other animals of the world do something to show their kids they love them. We are lucky enough to have arms and hands, so we hug them.
5. Be, and be with, the one you want them to be like
Your son is most likely to be the person you are, as your daughter will most likely be the person you are with. This applies to same-sex couples as well, as I am not referring to gender, but character. If you are a Republican, your kid will likely be one too. If you play basketball, your kid will likely play too. And if you beat your spouse, your son will likely beat his, and your daughter will likely get beat. You catch my drift? Act right, and choose the right partner.
6. Get them outside
I’ve been seeing a lot of new dads popping up all over the Internet. On Vine with kids cussing, on Instagram dressing up as twins, or on YouTube grinding on someone old enough to be their auntie or uncle. Where are these dads? I rarely see dads with their kids in “real life” at the park or playing catch in front of the house. You don’t have to get in the car, just go in front of the house or walk to a park. I can’t say anything specific about when my dad took me to Disney, but I can tell you everything about when he took me to the park after school one day.
7. Watch your spending
Do you need the new (recycled retro) Jordans? No, and your kid does not need Jordans either. Raising a child is not as expensive as the United States Department of Agriculture whats you to believe it to be. College can be nearly free, their cloths can be bought at Goodwill (until their old enough to splurge on Aeropostal hoodies with their own birthday money), and fun is just a few steps out that front door. If you are going to spend more on something, let it be organic food from the grocery store. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’ and stay within your means please.
8. Establish a domain
There needs to be a place (at home, not a bar) where you can decompress before transforming from Wall Street tycoon, to walking carnival ride. My place use to be the car, but I felt like I was being watched. Now my domain is the bathroom, not any bathroom, but a specific one. It took some patience and training, but they know not to bother me while I’m in there. Most times I just sit on the ledge of the tub until I can collectively get my mental shit together.
9. Understand that your life is over
Let me clarify, you are not dead. Your life as you knew it is now over. No more clubbing everyday to wake up hung over… cause that was fun, right? No more sleeping in past 8AM, and no more trips to Brazil every six months. Believe it or not, that lifestyle you had then was carcinogenic and overall abusive to your health. Kids make you rethink driving drunk. Kids get you out in the sun more often. Kids help you early to bed and early to rise, to make you healthy, wealthy, and wise (I’ll end it on that note).
10. Don’t try to be the best dad, just a better dad
Some of you new dads do too much. Some of y’all are going to burn out real quick. Stop putting all that pressure on yourself. You don’t have to be the best dad in the world, just be better than your dad was. And if your dad was the best, then you already know what to do… hell, you were trained by the best. Just be a dad and “show up”, then when you perfect that.. show up some more.