Recently, we asked the men in our Connected Families community what advice, encouragement, or insight they would give to dads just starting out on their parenting journey whether through birth or adoption. Here is what they told us.
16 Best Pieces of Advice for New Dads
Take time to enjoy your kids. Notice what makes them each unique and focus on growth. Pray regularly and bring your concerns to God first. —Dad of 3 daughters in Iowa
Don’t be shy about kicking family and friends out of the hospital room, your home, etc. if you need to rest. They’ll understand because they love you. Similarly, if people offer to come hold the baby while you clean the house, be free to ask them if they would mind cleaning while YOU get to enjoy your baby. Same rule applies: they’re your friends and family and they’ll understand. And seriously, sleep when the baby sleeps. — Dad of 3 in Texas
Get in shape now. Say yes to your children more. Let life teach your kids and ask more questions about what they’re learning rather than telling “right answers.” Read Philippians 4 once a week. —Dad of 3 adult children
Be patient with your kids and try to understand where they are developmentally. Staying calm yields better results than getting angry. —DODO, Dad of Daughters Only
Take your usual Saturday to-do list and cut it by 75%. This will give you margin to respond to the unexpected and seize discipling opportunities (which is basically all parenting). The things you didn’t get done will fade quickly from your memory. But the feeling of an always irritated father is something your child may remember into adulthood. –Dad of 6 in Illinois
Slow down and connect with your kids daily. It pays out in dividends! Connection builds the necessary trust for the influence you ultimately want to have. — Dad of 2 boys in Oregon
Ephesians 5:25 calls us to love our wives sacrificially so serve serve serve! Look for ways all day (and night) to place your wife’s needs above your own. Encourage her. Pray for and with her. Read the Bible to her. Tell her what God is teaching you in your own quiet times. Look for ways to fill up her cup emotionally, spiritually, and physically. No matter how tired you feel, she likely has had less sleep than you, so keep that in mind when you determine whether or not she needs your help in any given moment. —Dad of 3 in Texas
You will be stretched. You will be tested! If you want to learn patience, become a parent of many kids! —Dad of 6 in Georgia
I’m always trying to get a quick fix, to move past a problem, to get things done fast. I’ve learned that trying to parent fast is ineffective and in the end takes longer because there’s a lot more relationship work to follow up with after you’ve gotten to the “solution.” —Dad of 6 from Colorado
- Take more videos than pictures and record their voices when they’re young. (Make sure you mark your favorites in your media folder.)
- Figure out a way to take them out on dates early to get one on one time. It’s so much easier to be patient with them when you have time alone. Doesn’t have to be fancy (my son thinks Waffle House is a high class establishment).
- Try to make special routines with your kids even if they’re quick and trivial, just the routine will be more special the older they get.
- Create an email address for them when they are young and send email messages to it (memories, stories, inspiration). When they are older give them the email login and password to see your messages. —Dad of 5 in North Carolina
Love and serve their mom well. Support her with what she needs for nursing or if she needs a nap! Dads love to bring the fun. So use laughter, adventure, delight and make it a daily effort even when you’re tired from work. –Dad of 3 from Ontario, Canada
It’s unfair to expect my children to be any different than I am willing to be. If I’m not kind, I can’t expect them to be. If I’m not self-disciplined, I can’t expect them to be. If I’m not generous, I can’t expect them to be. God shows me so much more grace than I show my children. It’s so convicting to think about and if I don’t reflect on it with God’s grace, it is shameful. Our aim should be to show our children the same amount of grace that our Heavenly Father shows us. Think of the gasps of horror an unedited video of our worst moments would bring to our children and yet God has completely forgiven us all of it. —Dad of 5 from Florida
Everything will try to make you think that you have to keep up or to push your family to be what you saw growing up. Fight that. You are making your own family. You don’t have to live up to anything other than what God has called you to do. — Dad of 5 in North Carolina
Be flexible and don’t get too attached to any single daily pattern or routine. Rather, find ways to enjoy your kid no matter what is going on. Developmental changes in your kids (and the ensuing changes to your daily routine) happen quickly and often. Flexibility helps. —Dad of 2 young boys in Minnesota
Find your child’s passion and spend time doing it with them. Trust God and HIS process! —Dad of 3 from MN
- Slowing down means listening.
- It means reflecting before following through with that correction that might be right, but is perhaps not timely or effective.
- It means asking open-ended questions both of yourself and especially of your kids.
- Slowing down might literally mean speaking more slowly.
Slow down so you can stay in step with the Holy Spirit, and wisdom you didn’t know you had will be given to you. — Dad of 6 from CO
Psalm 127:3 says children are a blessing from the Lord! Don’t pay any mind to people that try to scare you about how hard this season will be (i.e. “You’ll never sleep again!”). This is a season of your life that you will TREASURE in years to come. Having a new child is definitely not easy, but it is so so so good. Don’t long for your child to be older, that will happen faster than you can possibly imagine. Enjoy and be thankful for the blessing you get to enjoy today, exactly how your little boy or girl is at this moment. They will never be exactly like they are right at this very moment. Soak it up. —Dad of 3 in Texas
We trust this left you feeling encouraged! Want more? We ran a similar article a few years back that has even more great advice. If you enjoyed this article would you consider sharing it with a friend, or on social media to bring other dads encouragement?
Want to learn more? Jim recorded this 38-minute audio thinking about dads (although moms can listen too!). If your wife has recently been digging into our material and is urging you to “get on board!” this is a great place to start!