First Time Fathers, Here’s the Confidence Boost You Need

a first time father and his baby

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First time fathers have a lot to look forward to. You’ll see your child’s first steps, hear their first words, and teach them how to drive. You’ll see them travel with their friends, experiencing life to its fullest while having you by their side. The moment the child arrives, whether as a baby or adopted pre-teen, everything is going to change. First time father tips are all over the place, but these are the most impactful mindset shifts and practical ways to prepare to reduce stress and enjoy the journey.

Prepare for an Emotional Onslaught

Seeing your child for the first may be the most emotions you have felt in a single moment. That feeling doesn’t go away for a long time. You’ll experience emotional extremes while having contradictory emotions battle it out in your head simultaneously, like exhaustion and euphoria. 

No matter what circumstances you are undergoing in becoming a new parent, whether adopting or going through a more traditional pregnancy, you may not have had time to sit with the change to come for as long as your partner. For example, your spouse may have had a more gradual mental shift to prepare for parenting because they have carried the child for months. They have felt their life change, whereas the father may not sense any difference other than the noticeable baby bump.

It is expected for your mental health to feel fragile and even erratic. One second, you’re without a child, and then your entire identity changes within a split-second. Postpartum impacts fathers, too.

dad holding two children in a flower field

Embrace Second-Best Parenting

You’ve spent many sleepless nights digging through online forums or reading parenting books, trying to figure out the best way to raise your child. You want to start as best as possible, shaping them into the most intelligent, kind and cheerful child. There are countless ways to parent, and each method provides its benefits. 

While some argue there is an undisputed “best” way to parent, it isn’t healthy to strive toward that ideal or attempt to comb through all the techniques to figure out which one it is. Spoiler alert — there isn’t one. First time fathers who expect to be perfect on the first try will set themselves up for failure, potentially leading to low self-confidence and negative self-talk that doesn’t help anyone in the family.

Instead, opt to do everything with a second-best mentality. You will practice parenting with self-compassion while putting in as much effort as possible. 

Take Care of Your Physical Body

Getting healthy is one of the best pieces of advice, but it is hard to enact. “Lose weight” and “change your diet” are easier said than done, and these specific first time father tips are not always the most helpful in their delivery. Instead, try this mindset shift to increase your motivation and improve the chances that healthy habits stick.

All you need to do is say this statement to yourself daily, and health-related decisions will be much easier for you.

“I want to experience as much of my child’s life as possible.”

It’s simple but effective. When you view health choices as an exercise in longevity, it becomes crystal clear what choices you should make. For example, it may also be easier to justify getting on your dusty elliptical for 10 minutes daily if it improves blood pressure and cognitive ability, saving children stress when tending to you later in life. 

Additionally, you may not want to procrastinate that doctor’s exam if it means adding an extra year to your life to spend with your child. Who knows what implications one medical choice could have?

father and child walking on beach near ocean

Settle Communication Expectations

Your partner(s) and anyone in your support system looking after this child must be on the same page. To keep everyone sane and aware of their responsibilities, have conversations before the baby’s arrival. For example, asking someone if they would be willing to babysit in the future is far less demanding than asking someone the day of if they could do you a last-minute solid. 

Make a physical or mental list of people to go to for specific help with their phone numbers and availability in the forefront. 

You will want emergency numbers, such as pediatric doctors and hospital staff, as part of that list. Know who you are supposed to call in case of a specific emergency versus scrambling in the moment to research.

However, communication expectations should translate into your relationships. Ensure you keep conversations alive with loved ones that are about your baby and plenty of other topics. Keep your romance healthy by tending to your spouse as you would beforehand. Try to let your friends know you’re thinking of them. Let them know how they can make you feel loved in return. Maintaining these interpersonal relationships, even in small ways, will be essential for fatherhood.

Do Favors for Your Future Self

You can do plenty of tasks in the weeks or months leading up to the baby’s arrival that will make you grateful for your past self. Here are some to get you started:

  • Prepare some meals and put extra meals in the freezer for easy heating.
  • Open a savings account for the kid and set up an automated contribution.
  • Spend quality time with your friends and schedule ways to see each other after the baby comes.
  • Practice travel routines, such as prepping the diaper bag and securing the car seat.
  • Do a declutter, deep clean and massive reorganization of the house.
  • Discuss with managers what parental leave and work obligations will look like.
  • Learn first aid.
  • Baby-proof the house.
dad kissing child on cheek

First Time Father Tips for Compassionate Child-Raising

Becoming a first time father comes with a lot of unknowns, but it will amount to the best rewarding and proud years of your life. Not many life events will change you as much as becoming a dad. Always remember that you have a support system and plenty of resources to guide you. Embrace the feeling of not knowing, and enjoy the process — because it will be long.

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