Parenting is not easy.
It doesn't matter who you are or how you were raised, almost every parent agrees raising a child is full of surprises and challenges. And though mothers often provide amazing insight on the topic, we decided to reach out to fathers, who we hear from less often, but have equally valuable advice.
These dads — who have seen their kids grow up — anonymously told us what their best advice was on raising children. Below, you'll find some of the responses we found most important.
1. "You'll make mistakes."
"There's no such thing as being a perfect father. And it's OK."
2. "Find ways to have fun while you're parenting."
"Show kids how to have fun by having fun yourself. Don't let the job part of parenting overwhelm you — the best part about being a dad is that you can invent the rules, so just try to enjoy yourself!"
3. "Soak up the early years like gravy in a biscuit."
"Especially for boys. The time that boys will let you hold their hands, cuddle and hug and kiss them is painfully short. After that, the willingness of kids to openly share with their parents closes out and your ability to share in their lives reduces as the years go on.
If you did your job and made great independent kids they leave you and travel the world. Enjoy the time that you definitely have them! Celebrate each little accomplishment. Don't miss any plays, games, talent shows and the like if it all possible."
4. "Sure, you're a parent now ... "
" ... but remember that you are also still a friend, a son, a brother and a husband."
5. "Identify as a father, not as a millennial."
"Fathering should define who you are for the rest of your life. Embrace it. Your work is important because of what it teaches you as a father. Your relationship(s) is/are important because of what they help you do as a father. Your money, your ego, your brilliance … are important only so far as they help you be a better father. And you'll need every resource you can draw on.
Second, be humble. Nothing is more humbling than parenting, as your life revolves around your child, your child is perfect (in your eyes), and anything that goes wrong is probably your fault. Accept that and embrace it.
Third, dare to be average. Don't bother trying to be the best Dad ever, because no Dad is great. Limit your mistakes, embrace your successes, share responsibility and credit."
6. "You're a janitor, a bodyguard, a coach, and a therapist."
"And then there's your day job. Just remember that they all matter; that it's all worth it."
7. "Raising a child is not a one man job."
"Reach out to your own parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors because you will need them more than ever."
8. "Encourage your kids to make decisions and be self-confident."
"The good news is that in time they will become independent. Which is also the not-so-good-news."
9. "Do not sweat the small things, they will drive you crazy."
"There is always something to worry about, but if the baby is fed and breathing then you're winning. No parent is perfect, chances are you will look back and laugh on the imperfection and forget all the other junk.
Also, you cannot plan on anything! You can research and read as many books as you want, but it will not prepare you. Every baby is different and every day is different. You think you packed everything you need, but you're wrong."
10. "Teach your children that technology devices are a medium for interacting with people ... "
"... not a replacement for interacting with people. Face-to-face is almost always better. Use technology when circumstances require it."
11. "Fathering becomes a lifelong learning process, so advice for the whole thing would be entirely too overwhelming."
"So here's advice for the first three months, from a dad who is also a doctor:
Human babies are essentially born too soon. They come out not yet 'cooked.' Compare a newborn human to a newborn foal that within hours of birth can be standing and moving around the stable. Neurologically their brains can't handle all the stimuli that they come in contact with in the outside world. Lights, sounds, touch can all become overstimulating, typically at the end of the day. This is often the time when a father comes walking through the door from his workday, only to find his partner and child both crying and losing their minds. If you want to save the day take the baby into a darker, less stimulating room. Some babies do well with sounds that are similar to a mother's heartbeat so a dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, noise maker might remind them of a womb. Keep them warm, but not hot. Keep overstimulating touch to a minimum when they are in this state, gentle massage or swaddling may help."