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25 Things You Need to Know Before You Become a Dad

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.

RELATED: Bashing Dads Is Stupid, Hurtful and Bad for Kids

1. Eventually, your kid is going to see your penis.

It's no big thing—pun intended—but get ready for the conversation.

2. If you're wondering why your baby's face is so red and irritated, try shaving more often.

3. You are going to get hit in the crotch so many times.

SO many times.

4. There is nothing more tense than slowly stepping away from the crib after you've finally, FINALLY put your baby down to sleep.

This is particularly challenging for huskier dads (me included). It's the parent equivalent of "The Hurt Locker."

5. Yes, Disney has a long reputation of villainizing stepmothers, but there are almost as many "serial-killer stepdad" movies.

Terry O'Quinn might make a super-creepy movie villain, but in reality, stepdads are awesome. Fight the stepdad stigma.

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.

As a 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, really).

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 sight again.

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 section.

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 doing.

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 medal #doublestandardssuck

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 ignorance.

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 Scout popcorn.

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.

RELATED: Why Dads Need to Be Involved in Breastfeeding

25. Anyone who asks if you're "babysitting the kids tonight" has no real idea what it means to be a father.

Pity them.

Image via Tom Burns

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