1/I am ready. You are never ready. From the moment I held Carter for the first time, I knew my life had changed. No amount of guidebooks, movies, or internet research can prepare you for having a kid.
2/My kid will be a copy of me. Some of you may luck out on this. I did not. I have dark hair and brown eyes. My boys are a blonde and a red-head and their personalities are polar opposites of my own in many ways. Some nights I shake my head and wonder where they came from.
3/My marriage will stay the same. Kids start you on a process of discovery. Your time is now split and your love has grown deeper and wider than you could ever imagine. Now, what to do with it? You were a team and now you are a unit. Days are blank slates and you must rewrite the script every morning.
4/My wife can take care of it. I’m guilty of this. When you add kids in the mix of work, money, family, faith, and health things can fall to the side. When you have a wife who takes care of things, it can be tempting to let it go. Be sure to step up and do your part.
5/My wife can take care of it (part 2). There is a phrase thrown around in faith circles of being a servant-leader. In the midst of the noise, it can easy to forget to take the time. We should be talking about life, faith, disappointment, hope, love, joy, and salvation whenever we can to our kids. We should start them on the right waters and help guide their spiritual journey into the future.
6/The sun will always shine. There will be fights. The first time your kid looks at you in anger, you will never forget it. You may think you’re a great dad but all it takes is a wrong answer to a question and it will set things off. Disappointment is okay. Your kids need to experience negative emotions and learn how to process them. This is the hard part; give them permission to ride out the storm. It will be valuable in the end.
7/Stuff is enough. A pile of toys only leads to more piles of toys. Eventually the interest fades and the gap must be filled with something. You can’t buy them off because the void will continue to grow. It is at the point where Val and I seriously limit gifts. Experiences are more important. Objects pass but memories will live on.
8/No second chance. Your kids are not your chance to “make things right.” Too many people maneuver their children to sports or other endeavors to live out everything that did not happen in their own lives. We hold up the past against our kids and vow to not make the same mistakes again. This is fine as long as we understand they are their own person and a new story waiting to be written, even with influences from the past.
9/No measuring stick. Get a group of dads together and what happens? The talk will move from marriages to jobs and eventually kids. Achievements will come up, sports, talents, schoolwork, whatever it may be. Don’t fall into the trap. Let your kids stand for themselves and let their accomplishments come up in conversation from other sources. Don’t be that guy, that trophy parent.
10/Never break the mold. You are allowed to cry, to laugh, to be embarrassed in public and play on the playground. You are allowed to hug your kids, pick them up and spin them around before throwing them on your shoulders. Maybe your dad never did this with you but, in the end, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it with your kids. Start a new family tradition and have the courage to see it through.