Mea is trying something different. Unlike the normal formula she uses for her posts, this one is going to be formatted as a listing. My wife interviewed me today about being a father and parenthood as a whole, and I am going to give the advice that resulted from that conversation to new dads and dads-to-be.
On how your priorities change after children. My priorities center around family. It takes a lot of soul-searching and prayer to decide to have kids. Once you make that decision, there’s no going back on that. You have to make sure you are willing to sacrifice. It’s all about sacrificing. You are in charge of the day-to-day well-being of another human who cannot do for themselves. And it doesn’t stop when they turn 18. If a person cannot commit to this, parenthood may not be for them. That’s okay. Have nieces and nephews. Become a mentor. Have cats or dogs.
On money. Ideally, you need to consider setting up a plan regarding what you aspire to do, almost like a business plan. It should detail as much as possible what you’re spending vs. what you want to save. This is individual and comes down to individual situations, of course. Putting money up for college or insurance or whatever can be done, but it takes a plan. You can’t be frivolous, though. Priorities have to come into play.
On how to help your partner. Just “do.” And then ask what you can do.
On what babies need. Milk, onesies, Pampers, and hugs: those are all a new baby needs.
About kids’ clothes. If they can’t dunk, they don’t need Jordans starting off. That money can go towards something a little more conducive. Plus, there needs to be some type of incentive program later through which the kids earn points to earn the shoes. They may expect Jordans if they start off with them. It’s not about making you feel better. It’s about what’s best for the child. Create a value system early.
But, of course, if you’ve got it like that, then do you.
On choosing a diaper pail. Think: What do you do with it afterwards once the baby is potty-trained? What’s its use later? I guess one of those expensive trash systems can become a cigarette stand outside or something, you know, if you smoke. But get some scented garbage bags and a trash can with a top for diapers. Same thing.
On baby proofing. Plug the sockets and keep everything high. They’re gonna destroy your shit anyway.
On having a daughter. Prepare to have the most unconditional love you’ll have for the rest of your life. Prepare to put yourself in the best possible light for your daughter because she’s always gonna look at you and see “daddy.” There’s something different about a daughter’s love towards her father. One of the worst things in the world would be to break her heart. That means that you have done something very, very bad.
On having a son. Your son is gonna be your little man. It could start off rocky at the beginning because of his unconditional love for mom, but as he grows, he is gonna look to you to model what it’s like to be an adult male. It’s a scary climate now for me as African American, for example, raising an African American male. There’s so much extra stuff now that you have to instill in him. You are in charge of this.
On staying sane. I maintain my sanity by taking everything for what it is and just enjoying it as much as possible. There’s so many people who don’t get to experience parenthood. It’s a blessing and an adventure. I’m cool with that.
On advice from friends and family. I know that I’m not the end-all, be-all on parenting, but I’m not the dumbest person on the block, either. You can listen to what others say, but at the end of the day, make the decision that’s best for you and your family. Experience and knowledge are always the best teachers. That’s actually how you want to ideally do all aspects of your life: professional, spiritual, everything. Listen, then adapt.
There’s no right way to parent. There’s no handbook how. Parenting involves a lot of life experience and gives a lot of life experience. It’s just life. It’s just a small part, and a large part, of life.