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Being a New Dad in the Early Years by Chris Cottle

As I think back over the last 10 years of being a father, I reflect on the joys and the struggles of the early days. There have been many joyous moments such as being there when my son was born, watching him smile as he woke up from a nap, his first words, his first steps and I can go on and on. But the biggest struggle through all those joyous moments was I physically could not tell him that I loved him. It is even difficult for me to type those words, that I couldn’t. It’s not that I didn’t. Because I truly did and still do. I was able to overcome this difficulty with the help of my friends and my wife. I now have three kids and I tell them every day that they are loved. Now let’s take a difficult walk down memory lane.

 

As a child I don’t recall my father being present much, mostly due to the fact that he was in the Navy as an officer. He was out to sea quite often. Even when he retired from the Navy he was going to work early and coming home late. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not knocking my dad in any way. He was doing what he had to at the time. The more I think about it I don’t recall many of the men in my family telling myself or my brother I love you. We heard “I’m proud of you” when the time called for it, but not those three important words. I never knew how they would affect me later down the line.

 

It was the summer of 2005 and my wife was due with our first child. We were the typical first time parents. We had read all the books we could find, bubble wrapped the entire house, and had prepped for this day for weeks in advance. The day had come and we were officially parents! I held my son for the first time and everything changed. My whole world was fixed on him. While at the hospital I felt the need to say I love you to my boy, but the words physically wouldn’t cross my lips. I shrugged it off and hid it from my wife, she was a ball of emotion and I didn’t want to blemish this moment. Flash forward to a few weeks later. I felt the urge to express my endearment yet again, but nothing but “I” would come out of my mouth. I was heartbroken and thought what kind of father can’t tell his son I love you.

 

I talked to my wife about my issue and believe it or not she was understanding considering my history of being emotionally inept (In the past I have not been one to express emotion much). I spent a lot of time discussing my lack of verbal communication with my best friend at the time, who was also quite supportive. Finally I came to a conclusion. I chose to show my son I loved him despite the lack of words. I was constantly holding him and taking care of him on my off shifts. I knew that if he felt loved I wouldn’t have to say it. If I remember correctly, with the more I showed him, the easier it was to say it down the road. Once he began making noise and communicating in his own way, I was able to tell him I loved him as well as show him. My wife began calling me the baby whisperer as I was able to soothe him on occasion when she could not.

 

After everything was said and done, I found comfort in my wife and friends. Because I felt comforted I in turn discover a solution to my issue. If I couldn’t say the words like I wanted to, I was able to wrap him in my loving arms showing my love. Sometimes you have to find other solutions that may not show themselves in the beginning, give it time and you will discover them where you least expect.

 

Resources:

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Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

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Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS

Links

Essential Tool Kit for Dads

Essential Tool Kit for New Dads – GDP010

“Essential Tool Kit for New Dads” Episode Overview

Most men are extremely nervous about being a new dad. Larry and Shawn talk about the top 3 concerns that most new dads share: money, potential changes in the marital relationship, and time with friends.

Key Take-Aways

Many men have serious fears about becoming a new dad, such as:

  • Money: Financial constraints of a new baby
  • Relationship: Fear of the relationship with their wife completely changing
  • Time with Friends: Fear that a new child will put a halt to their social lives

 

Concern #1: Money

Money is a big-time legitimate concern, and you should be prepared. In a recent study, numbers show that it costs approximately $250,000 to raise a child from birth to 18 years old – not including college. For more details, see the articles from CNN Money and Huffington Post, and factor for inflation and cost of living adjustments.

One of the most critical decisions to be made are about child care: Daycare or a parent staying home. According to 2012 Census data, there are over 2 million stay-at-home dads.

The necessities over a one-year timeframe will cost over $10,000 in the first year. Baby Center has a great “baby cost calculator” on their site, which covers items such as: diapering, feeding, gear, other necessities, etc.

 Tips for being financially prepared:

  • Sit down with your partner and come up with a budget you can both live with
  • Cut out some of the unnecessary things in your budget to temporarily to prepare for upcoming expenses – start off expecting to spend ~$1,000/month in the first years of raising your child, and plan to save accordingly
  • Look into ways to make passive income
  • When having baby showers, ask your all guests to give you diapers
  • Set up an online savings account that deposits money automatically

 

Concern #2: Relationship Changes with Your Partner

The truth: Your relationship will change. But you both have to agree to you will roll with the changes. And the change can be for the better if you are prepared.

The divorce rate with kids is up to 49%.

There will be no sex for at least 6 weeks after birth and within the first year with your partner, especially if your partner is your wife who gave birth recently. The lull usually lasts 6-8 weeks, sometimes up to 12 weeks, especially with new moms.

Be patient with sex. For the first year, it will most likely die down a bit. But not to worry. If you follow the 3 tips we mention below, you should be doing the body rock before too long!

Tips to stay connected with your partner in the first year:

  • Have a scheduled monthly date night
  • Book your sitters out the next 3-4 months – have it planned for date nights
  • Talk without distractions for at least 10 minutes per day – turn off the TV and cellphones
  • Send random texts to each other throughout the day

 

Concern #3: Making Time for Friends/Social Expectations

For the first 3 months, neither you or your wife will most likely leave the house very often for social gatherings. Your schedules will be working around naps and feedings. Plus, you both won’t feel like it because you will likely be feeling tired.

After 4-12 months Tips:

  • Make an agreement that each of you is allowed one night per month to get out with friends: Have a guys night with the guys, and the girls can have a girls night – or mix it up by getting together with other couples or friends from both genders.
  • Once a month will be just enough to keep your friendships strong and keep each of you sane.

 

Making Time for Yourself

Make sure you don’t forget to make time for yourself. In addition to connection with your partner and with your friends/social relationships, you will need to take more steps for self care. Take care of yourself first, so that you have more to give.

Tips:

  • Sleep whenever possible — catching up with naps will help give you some rest, or even closing your eyes for a period of time will help to relax and refresh you
  • Exercise to keep your body and mind healthy and give you more energy
  • Eat healthy, real food and hydrate yourself to give yourself the proper energy you need
  • Meditate or do breathing exercises

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS

Links

 

Links Mentioned In This Episode

 

Books Mentioned In This Episode

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