How to Be a Better Dad
Are you a good guy looking to be a great parent? A father examines what qualities make men better dads.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
I distinctly remember how incredible it seemed that I’d actually thought I’d been busy before my first child was born. “What did I do with all that free time?” I wondered as I fed, bathed, and cleaned up after her. I managed to make some attempts at efficiency, typing emails with one hand while holding Alexis in the other and pinning her bottle between my neck and chin. After only a few months, though, she became able to kick the keyboard tray in as I typed, and if she wouldn’t sit or play quietly, I had no other choice than to quit whatever I was doing and give my full attention to her.
This cramp in available time can be very frustrating for new dads, but it’s something that fathers of kids—especially those under age five—have to consider in planning not only their daily activities but how much time they want to devote to career and other pursuits while their children are young. In his book Finding Time For Fatherhood, psychologist Dr. Bruce Linton, PhD, remembers that “when our two children were little, it was obvious why it was impossible to get much private time. Day-to-day tasks were like digging a hole in the sand on the beach: No matter what size the hole, the water would fill it up. The demands of being both physically and emotionally present for infants and young children are pretty much full-time work for both parents.”
My younger brother found this out as a stay-at-home dad to his 3-year-old son. He had just finished his master’s degree and was starting a new job several months later. In the meantime, his wife went back to work full-time as a nurse, and Kory tried to take care of Cameron while working on small contract website projects from home. “It just didn’t work,” he says. “Given Cameron’s constant interruptions, I managed to get only an hour or so of work done on pretty much any given day.” Fortunately for their collective sanity, Kory lowered his expectations for what work he could get done while caring for Cameron—and most importantly, he maintained realistic expectations for Cameron’s playfully intrusive 3-year-old behavior.
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