It is amazing to think about the change that has happened during this last year, not only in him, but also with us.
Even though, Jenny and I had been planning for his arrival for 8 months (July 7 is when we discovered Jenny was pregnant), we were not fully prepared for the way he would change our lives.
People with children always tell those without, “Your lives will never be the same.” Hearing these words annoyed us, because we knew that our lives would change. That is why we wanted children in the first place! Yet, we could never anticipate all the ways our lives changed the day Micah was born.
I love being a dad. I wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world. My life has been forever changed by Micah, and I am eternally grateful that God has given me this opportunity to be a dad. Through Micah, God is shaping my heart to make it look more like His heart.
God uses our children to give us a greater understanding of who He is. (Tweet this)
As I reflected on the past year and what it means to be a dad, I thought of 10 lessons every new dad needs to know.
- Play a supporting role – Being a mommy for the first time is tough. It requires minimal time to eat, sleep, and shower. This is specially true in the first three months, because everything else takes a back seat to taking care of the baby. This means the greatest impact you can make for your family in those first few months is to be your wife’s support. Instead of expecting her to wash the clothes and the dishes, make supper, and vacuum the living room floor, you need to take on those tasks. Make time in the day when you watch the baby so she can take a nap or jump in the shower. If your wife doesn’t have to worry about supper or wonder when she will be able to get a little sleep, then everyone is going to be happier.
- Be an encourager – One of the biggest surprises I had was how difficult breastfeeding was to establish. Being I guy, I just assumed that it happened naturally. I was wrong. It can be very difficult, and painful, to establish a good connection for mom and baby. Without proper support and encouragement many moms give up breastfeeding and use formula and a bottle. Breastfeeding is just one example of why your wife needs an encourager. You need to be by your wife’s side, so she can be the best mommy she can be.
- Find time to cuddle – In the first few months there is not a whole lot you can do with your baby besides hold him. I loved coming home from work and holding Micah. I would read to him as he slept on my shoulder. Those days are already long gone. That is why it is important to take advantage of those early days to hold your sleeping baby. It is still great to cuddle with Micah, but now it is only when he is sleepy, otherwise there is a world out there for him to explore. Cherish those early days of cuddling, because they don’t last forever.
- There is huge joy in a small smile – It still warms my heart to come home, and have Micah smile at me when I walk in the door. I know he knows who I am, and that he is glad that I am home. When your baby smiles at you for the first time, it will melt your heart. Even if you have had a terrible day at work, when your baby smiles your way, your day will get a little brighter.
- Patience is a must – One of the most difficult things to endure in life is your baby crying. I always thought I would be able to handle it, but when Micah cries it breaks my heart. What is even worse is when he is crying, and you can’t comfort him. This has only happened a couple of times with Micah, but it was so frustrating. It is times like that when you have to take a deep breath and relax, because getting upset is not going to help matters.
- Be generous in giving praise – Everyone likes to be praised. Jenny and I have discovered that when we praise Micah for doing something, he will try to do it again, because he wants our praise. This means that as we teach Micah what he needs to learn (drinking from a cup, crawling up the stairs, trying to stand up) that we praise him as much as we can. Don’t be stingy in giving praise to your baby, make sure she knows when you are pleased with what she has accomplished.
- Routines are nice – Many of the books about raising children will stress the importance of routines. This is understandable, since most people are creatures of habit to one degree or another. The reality is that it is hard to establish a routine, and often, once you think you have a routine established, something comes along and upsets it. My advice, is to work towards having routines, but don’t be fanatical about them. Give your family room to live, rather than being hemmed in by the different routines you established.
- Danger is everywhere – Once your baby arrives you will see danger all around you. Your baby doesn’t know that it is dangerous to roll off the changing table, slip in the bathtub, or go head first down the stairs. Part of your job as being dad, and therefore protector, is to assess the dangers and do what you can to protect your baby. Also, remember this doesn’t mean you prevent her from taking risks. Risk taking is one of the ways people learn and grow. It does mean that you prevent her from taking unnecessary risks.
- Be careful what you do – As babies grow, they begin to imitate what you do. Tonight at supper I was tapping my foot when Jenny said look. There was Micah in his chair moving his foot along with mine. Remember, you are your baby’s first teacher, and he is going to observe everything that you do. Make sure that what you do, even when he is not by your side, is something you are okay with him imitating.
- Prayer is essential – In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, we read about fathers blessing their sons. You need to pray for your baby, even before she can understand a word you say, in her presence. This is one way for you to pass a blessing on to your child. It also shows them, from a very early age, that your relationship with God is important to you. You also need to pray because you need guidance. That baby in your arms is a gift from God, and He has given you the responsibility of raising her to know God and follow Jesus. You can’t do this without God’s guidance in your life.
Being a dad is a very special thing. You can’t fully appreciate how special it is until you experience it. I know you know that your life will change when the baby arrives, but remember your life will never be the same. And that is a very good thing.