“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to 21 I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Mark Twain)

Happy Father’s Day everyone. I am truly one of the lucky ones. My Dad was as good as it gets when it comes to fathers. I would like to think I came close to the standard he set with my own children and so far so good. I have learned a few things through trial and error and I thought it might be helpful if I shared those lessons with future fathers everywhere.

God made women incredibly irresistable and sex a whole lot of fun, so we wouldn’t think too far ahead and worry about the consequences. Trust me, if you knew exactly what was coming she wouldn’t look quite so hot. Oh and it turns out that science has proven that women actually look their best when they’re ovulating.

Once she’s pregnant, everything changes. You are going to hear about stuff you never dreamed of before and you better look interested. Only a fool will disregard her feelings, thoughts, moods, aches, pains and schedule during this time.

Just be glad it’s only 9 months. God clearly understood how long the average male can take pregnancy and the 24 hour a day requirements of pre-fatherhood. Given that most of us males have the attention span of a gnat, we’re lucky if we can even remember the due date.

You can still have sex in the last trimester and not be considered a pervert. You might have to close your eyes if you’re a hopeless romantic but it can be done if she’s willing and having a good day. Just remember to ask politely first, roses help.

Do not schedule anything that last week. She is not going to listen to any excuse you can concoct and she will remind you of your mistake every time she gets mad at you for the rest of your days on earth.

Do not check out the nurses in the maternity ward or even worse, the other expectant mothers. You have only one responsibility during this time and that’s to be totally into your wife for as long as labor takes place. After the baby arrives and she is sleeping peacefully you may feel the urge to chance it. DON’T even think about it.

Bring her flowers at the hospital and not the ones from the hospital gift shop. Go to a real live florist and pick them out yourself by telling the nice lady there that these are for your wife, who just gave birth. She will know what to do and you just pay whatever she says the price is. This is no time for a bargain.

Clean the house before she gets home or better yet, pay to have it done right. The bare minimum requirement for any wife returning home with a new baby is clean sheets on the bed, clean towels in the bathroom, clean floors everywhere, dishes done and put away and no visible messes. No man will ever get this 100% right but she will at least recognize effort.

Learn how to cook something good. Have your own mother teach you or have her make something that can be reheated but never ever expect your wife to come home with a baby and cook for at least a week, maybe two.

Offer to change a diaper at least once a day. Pay attention to the smell and you can probably guess when it’s the least dangerous to attempt this challenge. For extra points, change a #2 but use mentholatum on your nose and rubber gloves. Goggles are optional, you don’t want to look like a wimp.

Don’t even think about watching sports or taking a nap. You are her personal slave for the first few months so you might want to start practicing bowing right now. “Yes ma’am.” “Right away ma’am.” “Can I rub your back ma’am?” are virtually the only responses you need to remember for the foreseeable future.

Take a turn holding that baby when it cries. Only an abject coward is afraid of a crying baby. Be a man and try your luck, remember that kid is half your’s and you don’t get to send it back.

Show up for all the stuff that matters in childhood. Teachers conferences, recitals, sports, Sunday School, family get-togethers and dinner time. You’re a dad now and that is the most important thing you will ever do.

Dad’s have to discipline their kids. Look at it this way, you’re only home for a few hours each day, how hard can it be. Believe me, you don’t want to be the one with that responsibility all day long, so give your wife a rest when you’re there.

It’s good to make more money but not if it keeps you away from home too much. Kids need dads more than you know. They expect to have a great mom but having a great dad is like icing on the cake. They can’t wait for you to get home so they can tell you about their day and play with you. If you don’t enjoy playing with kids, what’s wrong with you?

Live up to their expectations of what a great dad should be. Listen to them, talk to them, protect them and tell them how much you love them. You will get back more love than you could ever imagine and it’s really easy to achieve this goal.

Have a sense of humor about yourself and laugh with them as often as possible. You don’t have to have all the answers but you do have to hear all the stupid questions. When you don’t know the answer, go look it up with them. Tell lame jokes and be a goof, they will love you even more for being a real person.

Trust them to be good when they get older. It’s okay to have good consistent rules but let them live their lives. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about them and they will grow up better and smarter if you just let go of the reins gradually.

Even after they leave the house, stay in touch and be there for whatever they may need. Parenting never ends completely but the best years are when they come back willingly and eager to hear your advice. Then you will know you did it right.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


About grhgraph

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3 Responses to “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to 21 I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Mark Twain)

  1. mary wise says:

    you made me cry. Think about that. I am sure I am not the only tender hearted woman in the world…sigh. You are a wonderful human being, sir. I am sure your children will be wonderful parents if they aren’t already. And if so, you will be a wonderful grandpa! God bless you. sincerely, mary.

    • grhgraph says:

      it took me a long time and a lot of stupid mistakes to figure this all out. Hopefully, the next generation of dads will do it better with a little help from me.

  2. Pingback: Wisdom from Mark Twain | mosescate

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