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Before you become a parent, you are assaulted by a nonstop
barrage of advice. Everyone from family members to book publishers want you to
know every little detail about what to expect when you're expecting.
And yet, once I became a dad, I was constantly encountering
situations and emotions that no book, friend or network sitcom had prepared me
for. I had all the swaddling and co-sleeping advice I needed, but I found that
there are some quintessential "dad" moments that didn't always get recorded in
baby books. So, in the interest of helping future generations of fathers, here
are 25 things, ranging from the important to the esoteric, that I wish someone
would've told me before I became a dad.
6. The annual father-daughter dance should not be the only
time you go out and do something with just you and your daughter.
7. If your pregnant partner is complaining about how sick
she feels, you should never, EVER reply with any variation of "But it will all
be worth it!"
The appropriate response is a deep hug followed by "Yeah, it
sucks." (And maybe an offer to go get carry out.)
8. Many children think that single dad King Triton is the
bad guy in "The Little Mermaid" because he destroys all of Ariel's stuff.
father, you will feel this injustice deeper than most.
9. If you're at the playground and your child's best friend
gets hurt and starts to cry—if you're a dad—you will get suspicious looks if
you hug them and try to make them feel better.
It's unfair and infuriating.
10. Stupid people will cite the "men are far more likely to
be violent/kidnappers" statistic at the drop of a hat, without any regard for
context, reason or personal knowledge of the man in question.
Did I mention
that these people are stupid?
11. That's not to say that there aren't a lot of bad men in
the world who should be kept away from children.
There are. But painting every man
with that paintbrush—without looking at each man's personal background and
disposition—is, again, stupid.
12. If you have the ability to do so, take as much paternity
leave as you can.
It's precious time that you will never be able to recapture.
13. Even if you hate baseball, when you become a dad, "Field
of Dreams" will make you cry.
14. Other movies that push the "Dad" button hard: "Big Fish,"
"To Kill a Mockingbird," "Finding Nemo," "My Life" and "The LEGO Movie" (no,
15. Never, ever, ever take Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as
your book to read on family vacation.
You will never let your kid out of your
16. If you're trying to find bargains or coupons online—or
if you do the bulk of your family's shopping—be prepared to be called a "Mom"
again and again.
For example, Amazon has curiously named their parent-focused
bonus program Amazon Moms rather than Amazon Family. This makes no rational
sense, particularly coming from the company that brought us "Transparent."
17. There's a whole genre of moronic Facebook memes devoted
to how oblivious and unengaged dads are.
These memes represent all fathers in
the same way that "Mommie Dearest" represents all mothers. They should not
inspire outrage on behalf of all mothers everywhere, instead they should
just make you very, very sad for the moms cheering along in the comments
18. If you're not a fan of "man-scaping," wait until your
baby decides to pull as hard as they can on a fist-full of your chest hair.
19. If you're a dad and you take your child out to lunch or
the library by yourself, people will smile and tell you what a great job you're
This has never once happened to a mom in all recorded history. It sounds
great, but, trust me, it feels like getting the world's lamest participation
20. You are going to be expected to know how to change a
tire, fix things around the house, go camping, coach soccer, grill and give a
damn about beer and/or college sports.
You may have many other admirable
skills, but when those topics arise—even if you find them insanely boring—people
are going look your way. So either learn to fake it, or defiantly embrace your
21. A surprising number of school PTA organizations are
peopled almost entirely by moms. And, sometimes, when a dad joins those groups,
they only ask him to build and/or lift things.
If this happens, dads, blow
their minds and offer to be the secretary. Or the treasurer. Do not relegate
yourself to grunt work.
22. If a restaurant doesn't have a changing table in the
men's room, there's no real reason to ever eat there with your family again.
23. Girl Scout cookies are a million times better than Boy
It's not fair. #doublestandardsreallysuck
24. Stay-at-home dads do not have the same institutional
support networks that stay-at-home moms do, which is a shame, because community
is a vital part of being a parent.
("Daddy and Me" classes are FAR rarer than "Mommy and Me" classes.) Fortunately, there are groups like The National
At-Home Dad Network that are trying to make it easier.