There are plenty of things we all wish we’d known prior to becoming parents. After all, books and research and well-meaning questions can only take you so far. You can prepare by taking parenting classes, sure, but you’ll still end up unprepared. That’s the magic and beauty of parenthood. Society tends to place our focus on moms, but I think it's time we catch up with dads. I asked dads what they wish they’d known before becoming parents, and their answers were anything but similar.
Thinking back to my own experiences, I know there are two major things I wish I would have known. Because I lost my first daughter to prematurity, the first thing I wish I’d known was that pregnancy and childbirth often if not always catches us off guard. There was no way for me to know my daughter would be born at 5 months, just like there was no way to know my son would be born two days after his due date. Basically, I wish that I’d truly understood that there are no guarantees in parenting, or even in the process that leads up to it.
The second thing I wish I’d known was just how unbelievably challenging being a parent would be, and how significantly those challenges can and will change over time. I didn’t know that I would have issues with breastfeeding, and didn’t know that my son would have feeding issues up until today. When my son was an infant, I didn't know I would later miss those early days of sleep deprivation and want to exchange it for the toddler tantrums that are becoming way too commonplace. There's just so many chances you can't prepare for, and they all seem to happen from one second to the next.
The following responses seven fathers gave about what they wish they’d known vary from heartwarming to hilarious. They're also proof positive that while society likes to prescribe "dad jobs" and "mom jobs" to parents based on their gender, we're all equally clueless when it comes to this whole parenting thing. #Solidarity
"Blowouts aside, poopy diapers are not as bad as you think they are. And two: babies are more resilient than you think they are. You don't have to cradle them in bubble wrap every moment of the day."
“I had the benefit of being a foster dad first to several little guys before my wife and I had our son. I knew time would go by fast. I knew it would be tough being patient sometimes. I tried desperately to savor the moments with him when he was little, and still I would give anything to have those moments back. He’s 3-years-old now and he’s a challenging, emotional kid. My happy baby boy is gone. I wish I would’ve been prepared for how much I would miss that, but I don’t think there’s any way to.”
“I think the biggest one is how challenging it can be to avoid imposing your own hopes and dreams on your child and just let them be who they will be. Especially if the first one is a boy.”
“I wish I would have known that time goes so fast. Before having Jamie (my son) I was living day-to-day and not really concerned at all about the future. After he was born, life took on a whole new perspective in the fact that there is someone that depends and looks up to your every move. Even him as a teenager, he notices everything.”
“I wish I had known how to be more supportive of my wife and her postpartum depression.”
“I wish I would’ve known what raising a kid with ADHD was like. It’s not inherently tough, but it does present a unique variety of challenges. When (our son) was 3-years-old, there were certain behaviors that left me thinking something’s wrong. He was unable to control his emotions, used to cry for hours when we disciplined him. The pediatrician said it felt like ADHD, but it’s not diagnosed until first or second grade. His mother and I were left feeling hopeless. I wish I had some kind of experience to help prepare me for it.”
“Before my son was born, I was concerned about the future. But now I’ve spent the past five years living day to day, and I’m always about 2 months behind.”