As the Dashing Dad, I don’t intend to do a lot of parenting tips in this blog. I might from time to time share some parenting experience that I had, but how you raise your kids is your own business. That said, one of the things that I found while my wife was pregnant with the Dashing Son was that there are tons of resources for moms, but not that much out there for dads (admittedly, this has improved in the last 6 years). All the parenting books were written for mothers, with tips like, “to soothe the baby, nurse her, or place her directly onto your breast with skin to skin contact.” Well, I don’t have breasts, my nipples don’t produce milk (they don’t do anything really), and my fuzzy carpet of chest hair wasn’t the best thing for the baby to grab and pull. There was tons of information about the emotions and feelings of what the mom was going through, but nothing for the dad.
When my wife was pregnant with my son, I found a book called The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash.
This book is followed up by Brott’s solo authored books; The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year, and then Fathering Your Toddler. These two books take you through the first 3 years of your kid’s life. You can also get these books in a three pack. And I bought this trilogy of parenting for a couple of my friends when they found out they were having kids. Lastly there is Fathering Your School-Age Child: A Dad’s Guide to the Wonder Years, which I am reading right now along with The New Father (I am re-reading this one).
Each book is broken up into sections based on age. The Expectant Father and The New Father are broken up into months (obviously pregnancy months for The Expectant Father) up to the first year, while Fathering your Toddler is written in 3 month segments up to age three. The Fathering your School-Age Child book deals with each year on its own up to age 9. I read a chapter of The New Father every month as the Dashing Daughter hits a new milestone, and I end up re-reading the appropriate chapter in Fathering Your Shool-Age Child every few months, just to refresh my memory as to what the heck is going on.
The books discuss your child’s development, both mentally and physically. He also discusses what your partner might be going through (especially in the Expectant Father and New Father books). What I liked was the discussion of what I was going through as a father. The anxiety of “What the heck is going on here? Am I going to ruin this kids life if I don’t (Insert action here)? Am I going to turn into my father? (did I just say ‘my house, my rules’?)” kinds of questions going through my head. It also gives advice about other things too, like savings accounts, life insurance, retirement, wills, school, and other boring things, but things that you need to be thinking about with your kids.
The great thing about these books is that they are written from a man’s point of view. So there is no being talked down to, or belittling. Also Brott worked while his first daughter was growing up, but became a stay at home dad for his second kid, so he has experience from both sides of that coin. Brott uses facts and expert advice to get the point across and offers different view points on things. While he has some strong opinions on things (spanking for example), for the most part he will provide pros and cons of different parenting styles, even if that wasn’t the way he raised his kids. I also like the fact that he uses some humor, funny stories, and comics to lighten things up a bit.
He also goes into other types of parents, like step-dads, adoptive parents, and single dads. Armin A. Brott also wrote separate books for single dads as well as military dads. I haven’t read these, but they are out there, and are probably chalk full of good advice for those type dads.
In Expectant Father he discusses the things you really don’t want to hear about like birth defects, miscarriages, and still births. In The New Father, he discusses SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and death of a child. You may not want to think about such things, but it is good to be prepared, or at least know there is some information available. For me, I read the part on how to prevent SIDS, but skipped the rest, because I didn’t want to think about it.
The Fathering your Toddler and Fathering your School Age Child books talk about games to play with your kid, and how to relate to this thing that became a miniature person. Once they start walking and talking, they start testing their boundaries, but also looking to you as a role model. Also, more advanced things like going to school, allowance, tooth fairies, etc.
Brott also includes resources for fathers, and parents in general. There are reading lists, movies with positive male role models (e.g. Finding Nemo), plus websites and other parenting books. Also the source material for the studies he talks about, in case you want to get more detail about the pros and cons of things like co-sleeping, or SIDS prevention.
The great thing about these books is that Brott drives home the important role that a father plays in children’s lives. He doesn’t underscore the role of mothers, but drives home the fact that dads are not just sperm donors who are never home and that we actually have an impact on our kids’ lives. When you watch on TV, or the movies, or even in some books, the stories focus on the mothers being the primary caregivers and the dad is either non-existent or is a bumbling idiot who can’t do anything right. He also discusses the role that stay at home dads play with their kids, and some of the negative stereotypes and how to deal/ignore them.
If you are a dad of a kid under the age of 9, and you don’t have one (or all) of these books, I recommend that you get yourself a copy.