My Fear Of Becoming A Father

The Kiss At Bay 2 Breakers SF

“The Kiss” At Bay 2 Breakers SF

Some of you have privately inquired what’s gotten into me lately, writing so many relationship type posts. The simple answer is that I’m petrified about being a father. More specifically, I’m worried that I am going to be a horrible father to a daughter. Women are complicated enough. To add a daughter into the mix is absolutely terrifying.

I can imagine my teenage daughter coming home one day crying because her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. I turn to her mother, “Honey, I’ll be right back. I need to go break some bones.”

No matter what I say, she won’t come out of her room so I begin to wonder whether she’s OK. Her heartbreak is my heartbreak. And as a father, I know she will tell me that I just don’t understand what she’s going through.

All I can do is be patient and be there for her when she finally opens up. In the meantime, I pray to God she’s doing nothing to hurt herself. I also pray these are the times when her mother will be able to calm her soul and ease her pain. Feeling helpless to help someone you love is horrible.

I want my daughter to find the love of her life early on and never break up. I want her to be brilliant, beautiful, and happy. By the time she graduates from college, I hope society treats men and women perfectly the same. Let there not be arcane tax laws, pay differentials, and old boys clubs with glass ceilings. I hope she never experiences tremendous loss.

Perhaps I overanalyze things too much. There are millions of fathers who manage just fine. But I’m the student who never believes he’s smart enough to finish an exam with 30 minutes to spare so I check every single answer twice over. My friends say that nobody will ever truly be ready for fatherhood. I know they are right so I continue to write and hope that one day I will better understand.

For those of you who are fathers of daughters, or parents in general, how did you prepare? Where were expectations about parenthood different from reality? What were some things that really came out of left field which left you completely dumbfounded? For those of you with multiple kids, how do you do it?

Thanks,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Parenting is one of those unscientific situations where at best you do enough right things to counteract the wrong things. You stress the important things like your values, character building experiences and self esteem. You model the important things such as soft skills, a loving lasting relationship and keep your lines of communication open. With some luck and hard work, you help bring up a successful adult.

      • Grace says

        I think you will be a good father Sam because you are already thinking about stuff like this!

        As a girl, I know from personal experience it is a tough world out there. But women are also a lot stronger than we look. Maybe some girls will be doing the heart breaking anyways and not the other way around. Cheers!

  2. Nita says

    Are you married? I thought you are not. Why even thinking 20 steps ahead and getting stressed? :) take life step by step..

    • says

      I like to think about things far in advance, especially the more serious the thing. There are things that I’ve been through that just make me shake my head with paralysis as to what the future may hold. It’s a very interesting dynamic to go from being a man who wants to be with a woman, to a man who has a daughter.

      Step by step is right. But as a writer who no longer works, I’ve got a lot of time to think nowadays.

  3. says

    It’s natural.

    The most ringing advice I’ve heard yet was actually from Freakonomics: In general, if you’re the type of person who will read a parenting book before your child comes you will be a fine parent. It doesn’t necessarily matter that you even finish the book. Just looking that far ahead, and with concern enough to educate yourself, suggests what that you will likely be a fine and conscientious parent.

    Parenthood changes everything; most notably your realization that you can have an unlimited love for someone. I believe that you’ve never really known unconditional love until you are a parent.

      • Austin says

        No way that even the majority of people read a parenting book.

        People are idiots. Never overestimate the intelligence of the general population.
        Just go to the mall and look for people with small children.

  4. Chris says

    Sam, after having our son, 10 months ago, I was equally afraid of the unknown. I was really afraid of losing more of my freedom. We thought about, planned it, and went for it. Fatherhood is better than I ever could have imagined it. It’s exhausting but rewarding, at the same time.

    I can’t tell you how many people I see around me just pop out kids with no apparent thought or planning invovled. Just the fact that you are pre-thinking it is a pretty big deal in itself. Love them and GIVE THEM YOUR TIME and you’ll be just fine.

  5. says

    I thought I’d be a terrible parent. I like my free time and am not the kid of Mom to make organic homemade baby food from vegetables I grew in my own garden. I thought those type things make you a good parent, but that really has nothing to do with it. I never even really thought I wanted kids until I hit 30. I’m still clueless about lots of thing, but it really just comes naturally. If you are worrying about it, you’ll probably do fine. Girls are great. We will rule the world someday!

  6. says

    When I was a kid I “knew” I would grow up and have kids. Once I got into my late 20s I wasn’t so sure anymore. Over half my friends had kids by that time and I witnessed changes in their relationships and the incredible amount of work involved. I got so focused on those things I didn’t see the positives. I think it’s completely normal to freak out. Some people don’t freak out until after they have a baby in their arms, when reality really sets in. So I think it’s good that you are having these thoughts before and trying to figure out if being a father is something you want or are prepared for. But of course I don’t really know because I don’t have kids of my own. All the parent friends I know say there’s never a perfect time nor is there a reason to rush. It’s good you’re traveling now bc a lot of them said they wished they traveled more before having kids. The one observation I can add is my sister who both she and I thought would never ever want kids. When she surprised me that she was pregnant and I got to see her with her baby, I saw a complete transformation. She is the most incredible loving and caring mom now. So it makes me think that even those who may doubt or fear having kids can definitely become amazing parents.

  7. says

    Sam,

    You know how I feel about the children subject. It is undeniable that you will always have worries as a parent. Always. Anyone who don’t worry is likely a shitty parent.

    A child is a great gift, but I feel that everyone should use logic before making such a huge decision. Life changes…drastically, for some. Hence, I wrote the post, that you have already read, “Why do we have children? Is it just the thing to do?” http://romeojeremiah.com/2011/08/03/why-have-children/

    Before even having children, though, there are so many people who don’t even address how strong their relationship is with there significant others. A healthy relationship with your significant other should be a prerequisite before trying to have a child. Try as we may, we can do everything “right” as a parent and still end up damaging our children in some form or another if they end up seeing their parents split. Unfortunately, this should be a huge worry in Western society.

    According to the 2009 Census, 27.3% of children grew up in Single family households
    (http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-126.pdf).

    So then, one has to find themselves answering this question: Should Men (or Women) Date Single Parents (http://romeojeremiah.com/2013/09/15/should-you-date-single-parents/)?

    In summary, your fear is perfectly healthy. Think hard a long. Please don’t just, “go with the flow.” That traveling that you love to do will get a whole heck of a lot harder. I’m not painting a “doom and gloom” picture. I’m painting reality.

    • says

      I’m always impressed with parents who have multiple children and don’t seem to be stressed or worry about their finances. It makes me believe that kids really aren’t as expensive as all these dire mass media warnings report.

      Reality is what I need, as is the importance to have realistic expectations of how difficult it is to be a father.

      • says

        They really aren’t that expensive. I plan on sharing some tips and tricks in a future blog post, and I’ll make sure to share when I do. I am amazed at some parents that spend 5 figures per year on 1 kid, and we can provide for all three kids for way less than $10k.

        As long as you ignore the college years lol!

    • Chris M. says

      I totally agree with Romeo! I am a mother of 3 daughters. You have to have a decent marriage/relationship to show your children a safe and stable environment. I have many friends whom are divorcing because they picked the wrong partner. It is devastating for the kids.
      And as far as having daughters?? They have to experience some pain/discomfort in life, it makes them stronger and more equipped to deal with life’s disappointments. As I type this…I’m sad my daughter isn’t being asked to Homecoming…it tears your heart out. But you can’t be the weird overbearing parent- you will lose them…believe me I’ve seen it.
      You will make a great Dad- you have lots of life experiences and your head is on straight!

  8. says

    To elaborate on my twitter response in more than 140 characters:

    There is no really good way to prepare for parenthood. Anxiety and concern over whether you can always be a great parent are totally normal. In fact, not being anxious about parenting and having kids probably means you aren’t aware of the great responsibilities that await parents!

    You sound like you are financially independent enough to be able to materially provide for your children without ever worrying about anything financially. Having adequate material wealth also means you can ensure you have time in your schedule to devote to being a good parent and to spend quality time with your children.

    I consider myself fortunate to have been able to retire at 33. Our two older children are already in elementary school, and I was busy working while they were very young. I was physically there when they were infants and toddlers, but not 100% there “in the moment”.

    Since retiring, my schedule allows ample free time to hang out with our one year old. This is probably our last kid, so it makes the quality time I am spending with the little dude very precious. As he hits milestones and continues growing, I think about how this is the last time I will watch one of my kids learn to walk or talk. Now I am able to take him to reading time at the library or play time at the local community center and just sit “in the moment” and enjoy watching him play. No more work-imposed schedules to worry about, just the schedule dictated by the grumble of his stomach!

    I wish you the best in your parenting ventures if you choose to go down that path, and don’t forget to cherish each moment!

    • says

      With three kids, you must be an expert father Justin! Don’t sell yourself short :)

      From a financial perspective I think things should be fine for up to a family of 4. After two kids, I’m not so sure.

      Part of the reason why I wanted to be financially independent early is exactly what you said. To be able to have more time to spend with them while growing up. Cheers

      • says

        Thanks for the kind words. I try every day! 3 kids is an odd number – almost warrants getting bigger car (we have managed with honda accord and civic so far). It also means hotels and cruise ship cabins go from 1 4 person room to 2 rooms with adults in 1 room, and kids in other.

        3 kids = totally possible as long as you have the resources or frugality to provide for them.

  9. says

    What a beautiful post! I don’t have children, nor do I want any, but I think your fears are natural and will be lessened with practice and time. Your child will have its own lessons and life and parents can shield them from everything. Based on how much you care and some of the thoughts expressed in this post, I think you’ll be just fine.

  10. a squared plus b squared says

    Too much thinking!

    Yes, children are totally dependent on parents when they are born and are very young, but as they get older, your job as a parent is to allow them to make their own mistakes and for them learn from them.

    It sounds like to me you are assuming that you will have unlimited power to fuck up. You are wrong. Many things are and will be out of your control.

    Just do the best you can, and let the rest go. You do not and cannot control the universe, your children, your spouse/significant other, anyone else. In fact, you can hardly control yourself. Therefore, just relax a bit, stop obsessing, and turn down the over-thinking.

    Yes, in some cases people can make career and financial plans in advance, as you have, but there are some things that planning to worry in advance is just counter-productive. You are losing your current and future emotional strength and stability to the effects of obsessing and over-thinking now (similar to losing income to the effects of inflation by keeping your money in a savings account).

    • says

      Sounds good. I like your attitude of not thinking too much about how to raise kids. Just pump em out and learn as you go as they say.

      How old are your kids and what are they doing now? Any times where something happened out of your control that you wished you prepared for?

  11. says

    Sam, I am a husband and father. I have two little girls, 6 and 3. It’s both a joy and a test to be in this position and I think that is how it will be for you when the times comes for you to be a father and husband (if you so choose).

    How did I prepare?

    I didn’t prepare very well. I got married very young (I was 22 and my wife as 19). I don’t have a lot of experience as a single man. I got married because I loved my wife. I probably could have thought things through a little more, but I think I got lucky with my wife and we continue on today :)

    Where were expectations about parenthood different from reality?

    For some reason, I thought my kids would be perfect little angels and never have any problems. After 6 years of kids now, I realize that my kids cry, get hurt, and have moods just like anyone else. Since they are both girls, I’m sure the extra emotion plays a role too. They are however, very smart and loving kids. So in hindsight, I should have understood the principle that everything is a double edged sword and has good and bad.

    What were some things that really came out of left field which left you completely dumbfounded?

    One of the things was the kids getting hurt due to a lack of understanding of the physical world and laws of physics. They take risks in their play and trip and fall and get bumps and bruises. It happens more frequently than I thought it would. I also did not take into account that I am a human being and would get more responsibilities at work for my full time job and would have increased stress and have to learn to manage that.

    For those of you with multiple kids, how do you do it?

    I have two kids. I do it by adopting a philosophy that is my north star regardless of what is happening and it is this: Each of us should have the opportunity in life to explore it as we see fit. And each of us gets what we put into life. Life is hard and competitive and there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. But so long as I live, I’ll strive to give as much as I can to it and my family and accept whatever the outcome is.

    Wishing you the best Sam. You will make a great father and your wife and kids will be lucky to have you.

    • says

      Love the attitude Jeremy. Thanks so much for sharing your experience as a father. You are very lucky to have found your wife so young and have two healthy daughters. I’ll keep the unexpected laws of physics in mind. Best, Sam

  12. says

    As I had told my wife when we learnt we would get a baby : there is never a good time to get a child… It can always be better, but in the end, the details don’t matter. If you have a good & healthy relationship, the child will be happy ! These little things are litterally sponge, they suck up all your emotions (on top of your energy ;)). So if you keep a positive & loving attitude, whatever the challenges, you will overcome them.

  13. JayCeezy says

    ***”And as a father, I know she will tell me that I just don’t understand what she’s going through.”***

    Reminds me of a great joke…

    “You what kid had it toughtest growing up? Jakob Dylan from the Wallflowers, Bob Dylan’s kid. I imagine him as a teenager, practicing with his friends in the garage and his Dad pokes his head in. “Hey kids, can you keep it down? I’m trying to take a nap.” “But Dad! It’s rock ‘n roll!” You just don’t understand!” “Yeah. I understand. I’m Bob Dylan.” – Colin Quinn

    • says

      I hear yah. When we are young, we think we know more than we do. Only do we go through what we think we know do we realize how little we knew. Listen to your parents, listen to your elders folks!

  14. Kathie says

    Hi, Sam,
    The best way to protect your future daughter from lousy guys is to show her first-hand what a great guy (you) does and is. Pick the right woman, first, then be the husband-dream-come-true to her. Your daughter will see how it’s done and won’t settle for less. Several years ago, our little daughter said to me, “How will I ever find a guy like Daddy?” I told her that he is out there, and he’ll be looking for a girl like her when the time is right, and she’ll be able to recognize him because she already know what’s she’s looking for.

  15. Gribs says

    Being the father of wonderful 30 and 20 year old daughters, my guide has followed the factoid that “the best predictor of a young girls success in life is the quality of her relationship with her father.”

  16. says

    Being a good father is no different that being a good husband or good person, other than it is more important.

    The good news is that you are already a millionaire and shouldn’t have to worry about prioritizing your children. There are many people out there, myself included, who have multiple children and two people working. In these situations it is tough sometimes to give the attention to your children you need to, or to set the example you might.

    So count your blessings. It won’t be easy being a great father, but due to your financial situation you’ve laid the best foundation you possibly can to always put your daughter first.

    • says

      The potential for being a father has been a great motivator for being financially independent and having a lot of freedom so I can spend time with my child growing up. I want to be present during his or her most dependent years.

      To the unknown! Thanks for your advice.

  17. says

    Well, father of 4 here. (twin 13 y.o. daughters, 9 y.o. son, 3 y.o. daugher).
    How is it? Happy and trying at the same time.
    Do I make mistakes? Most assuredly, but are my mistakes helpful in my children understanding that they’ll too make mistake but can still be fantastic? That is a question to be seen.

    There is no thing as “the perfect father”. There is simply some that are better at controlling their understanding that they MUST let their children learn to ride a bike and possibly get hurt. Or may possibly date a guy that is a complete jack*ss.

    Was I ready? I thought so, but within a year, I realized that I should not control their lives and destiny to fit what I believe is right if they are to grow up anything more than a zombie who could repeat exactly what I or their teachers say.

    How do you know that you’re ready for fatherhood? When you realize that it is NOT about YOU, but about them.

    FYI, one our our children’s teachers recently said that she was offended many times when parents would tell her that “she just didn’t understand” when it came to having kids. her initial response was “Well I have 20+ children in my classroom every day, what is it that I don’t understand?”. When she had 2 of her own children, she said that she finally understood that there is much more than just putting food in front of them, teaching them information, and making sure they get a bath.

    • says

      Something else that came out of left field as a surprise to me, is that our son once showed me even more compassion/caring for others than I sometimes show. It makes me strive even harder to become a better person.

    • says

      Duly noted Chris. Guess there’s just no way for me to know unless I’m actually a father.

      Mentally, I will try and let go and to expect them to get hurt and learn from heart ache and mistakes. Going through an experience firsthand really is the best way to learn!

  18. says

    If I lived in San Francisco – I would probably fear becoming a father too! But I don’t – and I am a father. I have 3 kids, the youngest of which is my baby girl. The love a father shares with his daughter is unexplainable until you actually experience it yourself.

    I don’t let rational or irrational fears get in the way of my parenting. Just take one day at a time and equip myself for the future by studying and figuring out what I don’t know. Currently, I’m reading a book that I believe is a MUST read for any and every father who has a daughter. It is called, “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Meg Meeker. So far, it’s a fantastic resource that is helping me understand exactly why and how daughters feel and act the way that they do – especially in regards to their relationship to their father.

    • says

      Sounds like the perfect book! I will definitely check it out at the library.

      Do you mind explaining the San Francisco statement to me? Why would you fear raising kids in one of the most culturally diverse, art infused, beautiful city in America?

      • says

        I hope I didn’t offend you with my snarky comment Sam. My fear would be totally based on the unknown (I’ve never been there) which is rooted in typical stereotypes that [some of] we mid-westerners have of San Francisco, LA and most of California in general. Those stereotypes being that the aforementioned places seem to represent and are leading the way to the moral decay of America.

        But then again, I’ve heard a lot of great things about San Francisco. Shame on me for focusing on the negative.

  19. says

    What a poignant post. I think any good parent will have fears like this. My first son just turned 18 months and it’s hard for me to imagine a day when I can’t comfort him just by picking him up and rocking him. The scene you describe with your future daughter locked up in her room pulled right at my heartstrings because those are the situations where you can’t do anything but wait until they’re ready to be comforted. I think the fact that you care so much is evidence enough that you’re ready. The fear doesn’t really die down, I still feel my failings (real or imagined) every single day. But the good moments are absolutely worth it.

  20. says

    Good post Sam! I know this may not really help all that much, but that fear as a father never completely goes away (at least from what I have found). We have three little ones (and lost one along the way as well) with the oldest turning six this week. We have one daughter (our oldest) and she is the sunshine in our home. I look at what the future may bring and have to remind myself to take it one day at a time and enjoy the ride. No one is perfect, and you learn a lot as you go. That said, even though I was absolutely terrified as we started, it is absolutely the best “job” I’ve ever had or ever will.

    • says

      Hi John, good to know the fear never goes away. I guess we all just manage to deal with it? Internalize the fear so it does not get the best of us?

      As a father, do you feel less stressed or more stressed parenting a son or a daughter? Or is it pretty much the same?

      • says

        Yes, I’d say you just manage to deal with it and not allow it to get the best of you. I personally use it as motivation to make sure I and my wife are doing what’s best for our kids.

        It’s pretty much the same, for now at least. I am sure as they get older and reach their teen years that they’ll have their own unique challenges that will need to be dealt with. That said, the hope and plan is to build into them now as they’re younger so those challenges won’t be as overwhelming as they get older.

  21. Mike Hunt says

    Hi Sam,

    Good post and one that I can comment on since I am now the father of a 2.5 month baby daughter… what a life changer.

    When she was born she immediately started to cry and I had the distinct feeling that I want to get up to help her immediately, and was happy to do so (however, I was holding my wife’s hand and the doctors told me to stay put for a few minutes while the nurses cleaned off the baby). It was like I wanted to help the baby but I didn’t feel any of the negative sense of obligations, and I found that strange since I never had that exact feeling before in my life.

    When you witness a birth, especially one of your own child, it is easy to think philosophically. For example, that child is like you or I 30 – 40 years ago, and when we look at them it’s just like when our parents looked at us. By the fact of us being here, it means that someone parented us the same way so we are just paying it forward, so to speak.

    Everything towards your child stems from unconditional love. Of course the Chinese proverb applies, paraphrased to be “once a child is born, every second is a step taken towards death”. Not meant to be morbid as much as a fact that all life on this planet is transient so we must appreciate the moment. Let go of trying to control your child too much, as falling down, having a heartbreak, is all part of life’s experience. Having ‘perfection’ in life, measured by no hardships, is hardly a life worth living, and totally unrealistic for ANY creature living in this world.

    Oh, the other thing I did was change my health for the better since I want to be around to watch my daughter grow up. I did a 2 month juice fast, starting it a few weeks prior to birth of my daughter, and am now 155 lbs on a 6’2″ frame, with 4.5% body fat… considering I was 205 lbs at the beginning of the year with more than 20% body fat, that is a great feat… I highly recommend it. Remember you had mentioned (many posts ago) that my ideal range is 170 – 205lbs because that was my historical weight? I just expanded that range significantly downwards, because at the end of the juice fast I was down to 147lbs and feeling pretty darn good!

    The bonus is the increased energy levels are welcome when taking care of a newborn, and getting limited sleep.

    -Mike

    • says

      Hi Mike! It’s been a while. Good to hear from you and congrats on your 2.5 month yar old!

      I must imagine having kids makes us that much more aware of our mortality. I want to spend as much time as comfortably possible with my own parents now than ever before. I hope they open up even more so I will thoroughly understand them. A large part of the reason why I write this blog is so that they can get an idea of what their son is feeling, the good and the bad.

      That’s incredible you are down to 150lbs at 6’2″! Thanks for the motivation to stay healthy. I’m at around 163lbs, but am 3-4 inches shorter :)

      Hope to hear more about your journey of fatherhood!

  22. says

    I would agree that you are over-analyzing it. Enjoy your daughter in each stage of her life. You still have the joys of watching her discover new things every day by sticking everything in her mouth. The joy of hearing her first words, and watching her wobble all around the house as a toddler. Enjoy your daughter and your family.

      • says

        Hi Sam, We have a 12-year-old son. Some of the funnest times were when he was a toddler figuring out how to get past the various obstacles that were in his way. Our son was a very happy baby, toddler, and little boy. He is apparently still happy, but we don’t communicate as much. Nothing has changed on my side, but he is 12, so he knows everything (except when he doesn’t.) He is in the middle school band and jazz band, so we go to concerts several times a year.

        All my married friends used to tell me that marriage will change my life forever. Then my friends with kids told me that having a kid will change my life again by the same amount that getting married did. They were mostly correct.

  23. says

    The most surprising thing that came from the birth of our little boy was how fast our lifestyle became “normal.” I went from being nervous out of my gourd to “just another day of happiness” in a matter of 1-2 months. As if we’d had children all our lives. Pretty amazing how our bodies work :)

    I missed it if you had news of a wee one coming into your world soon, but if you are I’M SOO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! You’ll be a great dad! And if you were just wondering out loud with this post, well, I’m happy for the FUTURE you when/if you have kids, haha…

    • says

      Gotcha J. Nope, no baby on the way. Just talking about my concerns as a potential parent to be who knows when. This is what happens when you have a lot of time on your hands. Hope your boy is doing well!

  24. says

    I remember being nervous about becoming a dad, but for me all the nervousness and fear and everything else kind of just disappeared when I saw my son for the first time. It’s an amazing thing to feel that unbounding love for your child, knowing you would do just about anything for them. Becoming a dad was one of the happiest days of my life, and while it isn’t easy at first, you quickly become used to that new normal. It’s not always easy being a parent, but it’s always definitely worth it.

    Just take time to enjoy your new little one, and just soak it all up. It goes by so fast!

  25. says

    I have been the father to a daughter for two years now. I still feel the way you describe in this post. I’m pretty sure I always will. Even though my daughter is only 2, I still wish spend a lot of time stressing about this and that. And the end of the day, I just need to let go a bit more than I would like to and give her room to grow.

  26. says

    I too was a little fearful of this, back then. However, the very moment I was told by the doctor in the hospital that I had a beautiful daughter (we didn’t know baby’s gender before), I instantly lost that fear. It was a life-changing experience.

    For a father of a daughter, or at least I can speak for myself, there is an incredible protective instinct that just comes out. That drive to take care of her simply caused that any prior apprehension to evaporate. Not saying it’s always easy, because your lifestyle changes completely – and yes, there are never ending worries that a father of a daughter probably has. But becoming a parent was the greatest thing to happen in my life, being a Dad is incredible.

  27. says

    I have a daughter who just turned 2. The way my wife and I prepared for her arrival? We created a Gmail account for her and began writing to her about our fears, hopes, and anticipation for her arrival. Putting these thoughts into writing was cathartic for us. It’ll also be an amazing memento for her when we eventually tell her about the account when she grows up (maybe when she turns 18, when she’s about to get married, etc.).

    Insofar as expectations not meeting reality… for me… reality is actually much easier than my original expectations. I think it’s because that now she’s here with me, any effort that may have seemed insurmountable before doesn’t even require a second thought now. The love that you have for your daughter is that immeasurable.

    • says

      What a great idea. I hope to share this post with her decades down the road. It’s so rewarding to write about things and look back and see what was on your mind.

      Just read some posts on your site. Congrats on finding a new job in the Valley!

  28. says

    If I ever do have kids in the future I want to name James, if a boy, and Laura, if a girl. I’ve thought about the challenges of being a father too. I get anxious thinking about it. Heck, I’m even too scared to get married right now. It seems like most parents I know are happy they raised kids, but I’m afraid to find out the answer for myself to the question “will raising a family all be worth it?”

  29. says

    I know you’ll hear this over and over, but there is nothing harder than parenting. Plus, it gets even harder when you have a couple more. What makes it more challenging is that each of our kids have their own unique attributes: they each are motivated and frustrated by different things. Every day is discovery learning. We have tried to allow them as much independence as possible; we are big believers in free-range children who have enough structure to keep them safe and disciplined, but the ability to go out into the neighborhood and do what I did as a kid. We are not helicopter parents by any stretch. I’m also proud of the fact that our kids are indifferent to pop culture; we have raised them to read, go outside and play, do sports, etc., and the TV has not been an enormous factor in their lives.

    You will be an awesome Dad, Sam. That is already clear from the writing you’ve done on other topics here. Enjoy!

  30. says

    I do have 2 daughters and I echo your fears. Having a sister who winds up with all kinds of bonehead boyfriends and has thrown her life away only magnifies them!

    My goal is to raise my kids that are hard working and have a solid value system. My thinking is that if I raise them right, everything else will follow. If my daughters are smart,confident and have a great work ethic, will they screw up their lives like my sister has? Maybe, but the chances are lessened.

    With girls, I feel like I’m constantly fighting society. They are shoved into a pink corner. “Girls should have baby dolls, not science kits!” I hate this line of thinking and am constantly yapping about stuff like math and the solar system. Here’s hoping that some of it is sinking in.

  31. says

    Oh crap, I almost forgot to mention the best advice I ever received regarding raising daughters. It is this: “Be the person you want your daughter to marry.

    No shit, it’s that simple. Think about it a bit because I have and I think it rings true most of the time. My dad was a bit of a loser when my older sister was growing up. Now, she goes out with nothing but losers. By the time my younger sister was born (12 years after first sister), my dad had kicked the bottle and was a better person. Little sister has healthy relationships. Besides my own family, I see it all around me.

    Look around and see if you notice the same.

    • says

      I think what you say makes absolute sense. If she seems me treating her mother with love, kindness, and respect that is exactly what she expects her future partner to be and won’t settle. Great advice.

  32. Bill Vernon says

    As a father, having a daughter is the most rewarding experience in my life! It is so simple. Give them love, respect, and attention and they will love you unconditionally for the rest of your life.

  33. says

    The very fact that you are thinking about this in advance tells me you will be a great dad. To excel in parenting requires the same formula as anything else we desire to be awesome at – we have to work at it. We don’t enter adulthood really knowing what how to handle our personal finances but through education, training and many missteps we figure it out. My wife and I have been through multiple parenting courses, mostly through our church that have helped us tremendously with our four kids. The best pieces of advice I could give are 1) don’t fear messing up – you are going to (I sure have at times. Kids are resilient and I have found them to be ready to forgive me when I mess up) and 2) approach parenting with a legacy perspective. It’s our way to leave a legacy in this world that could last generations. I wouldn’t trade being a parent for anything. I have found no experience to be more powerful than holding my four newborn babies in my arms.

  34. says

    We only met briefly in person, but from talking a little online and reading more about you I think you’ll be a great father.

    Everything you are scared of will happen and more, but there is NOTHING like the relationship a father has with his daughters. It is so precious. My mother passed away when I was a teen and even though at the time my father and I did not get along, we are really close now. I was probably his worst nightmare as a teen, but he’s proud of me now and it’s cool to be able to call and be like “Hey, I’m nearby, want to grab lunch?” and stuff like that.

    As a parent, I did not feel prepared. Honestly I got pregnant because of pressure from family and my then husband. I LOVE my daughters and am so glad I had them when I did, but I definitely was not emotionally prepared. I’ve been scared they’d be bullied because they have learning delays (runs in their fathers side), speech impediments (lisp from both sides) and things but they are both super popular.

    Hard though, if someone hurts them, I don’t care what age they are, I want to take them out. lol. My parents dealt with that problem by having more kids. Siblings are like mini gangs and they will sort out whoever hurt you, even now as adults my siblings and I are super close and heaven help anyone who hurts a single one of us.

    You’ll be fine xx

  35. getagrip says

    Lots of good points already put in, but I’ll add my $0.02 worth anyway.

    I never really thought of being a parent as a kid. I never held a baby, changed a diaper, etc. and knew I was totally unprepared for fatherhood. When we decided to have a kid we were the first in our circle of close friends to have a child and we had moved out of state from family so I had no one close to tap into. I read some books to understand the things to expect with a newborn, which helped to keep me from unnecessary panic when they caught colds or acted odd, they also helped me understand that not all parents are in love and “bond” with the kid the minute they are born (took me over six months or so). I also took some solice in other folks who just told me it would be okay, because it generally was. The books and some people’s advice can also be a ton of crap and you need to filter through it for what works for you and your child (each child is different even in the same family). What was the hot way to raise a kid this year will change in five, so take all advice with a big, honking, grain of salt. That includes what I say :-).

    Three main things I have learned:

    1. Your focus is your relationship with your spouse. The two of you are a team and should decide most things away from the kids ears, and even if you disagree in the moment you don’t cut each other down or undermine each others authority infront of the kids. You also need to work to keep your relationship loving and strong, or your kids lose their base.

    2. Do what you say, especially when it comes to discipline. So never say stupid things like “if you touch that I’ll break your finger” or “One more time and you’re grounded for a year”. If you say, “touch that and you’ll get X (X being whatever consequence you use for bad behaviour)” and they touch it, you don’t repeat the warning, you don’t yell, and you don’t make a big deal out of it. Instead, no matter how comfortable, distracted, tired, etc. you are, you immediately move and do what you said. This is much, much harder than it sounds, but I feel it is really important.

    3. Take time to get your butt down and floor and roll and tickle and wrestle and giggle and play with them. I think many women have learned or just know to do this, but guys often don’t. Later spend time teaching, throwing a ball, practicing soccer, etc. As part of that never lose an opportunity to tell them you love them and show them with a hug or a cuddle.

    In the end you need to understand you aren’t perfect and you shouldn’t try to be. But you also need to understand that like anything else working at it may not guarantee the outcome you want but you won’t have a shot at getting the outcome you want without putting in the work.

  36. says

    Congratulation! Are you going to be a dad soon? ;) Just kidding!
    It’s easy for me to be a dad. It’s a ton of fun and a ton of frustration everyday, but I love it.
    Maybe you just need a few more years to feel more comfortable with the idea.

  37. says

    To respond to the daughter part: Marry the woman you want your daughter to be! You could be an amazing father but the mother matters too since she will see her mother to be norm of what a woman should be. My mom at times made more than my dad. Since I’ve started working I’ve been the “bread winner” so to speak in the relationship. I think seeing my mother be ambitious in the workplace contributes to my view of how hard I should work and what I also deserve in life! My father made me understand that there are good men who support ambitious women and supported fluid roles in life. To him it was something all men should aspire to! And so I have learned tons from him as well.

    I’m also scared to become a mother. It seems a huge responsibility! I do no take it lightly at all. I totally understand your fears. As I haven’t gotten farther than you with this I can’t offer advice ;)

  38. Ribby says

    As a new mom I feel your concerns. I worried during my pregnancy, I cried when I found out I was pregnant because I was scared I would not be a good mom. Unfounded worries I am sure of now but panic can put crazy ideas in your head. You have nothing to worry about love will lead you in the right path when your time comes.

  39. says

    I tried to prepare myself for parenthood, but when my daughter was born, my preparations didn’t add up to much and instinct took over. The bond between a parent and their child is just incredible. She’s made my life better – more fuller and satisfying. I worry about when she grows up and the challenges that come with that, but I know we’ll get through anything. I’m sure you’ll be a fantastic dad!

  40. says

    Some background for those that don’t know me: I became a father to a baby girl at 20 just a year after getting married. This wasn’t planned but we did plan our kids age gaps to had to move forward with the plan :) we had another girl when I was 22 and a boy when I was 24. We are now pregnant again and I’ll have just turned 27 when this new addition joins us.

    Prepare..hmm. There really isn’t anything you could ever do to prepare you for life as a parent because parenting is so dynamic. Being a parent throws so many curve balls your way, things you may have heard of before and things you never imagined, especially with the world changing at the speed it is. Your kids will surprise you at every turn and just when you think you’ve figured them out, they’ll surprise you yet again. Girl or boy, all you can do is do your best and hope for the best. You can’t and shouldn’t try to control every aspect of your kids life.

    Some expectations I had about being a parent were shattered in so many ways..for example, as a somewhat educated guy that believes in self-reliance, I thought I’d be able to impart great wisdom on my kids. Having to wait till your kids are ready to learn something, or repeating something over and over until their minds are ready for it is something I didn’t quite get right away. It’s hard to explain but your kids will certainly teach you patience beyond your current understanding.

    The left-field stuff is mostly that your kids will understand far better than you ever could, certain life lessons. They’ll pick up on things you never imagined they’d just get and they’ll surpass you in that understanding right before your eyes.

    Another thing you’ll never expect is how the different each kid is after the next and how their dynamic of personalities comes together to create a family. Our first daughter was so laid back, so relaxed and still is. She’s beyond her years in knowledge and understanding and I always wondered why that was. Why we had such an easy child followed by our most difficult (she has many of my personality traits which makes her more headstrong, stubborn and outspoken). But just last week I realized that my older daughter is a far better example to the younger kids than if they had been born in a different order. She is the voice of reason and the other kids do follow her example and learn from her. They may apply that knowledge in their own way but it is there and it comes not from us the parents, but from our 6 year old.

    It’s really hard to explain some of what you’ll learn becoming a parent, and it’ll take years and years for you to even see some of the things you’ll learn or that your kids will pick up. I can tell you that it’s worth every minute though. Every bit of heartache, every moment you share with your kids, good and bad. It’s worth going through all that because that brings family closer together.

    By the way, don’t be afraid to get involved in the girly stuff. Be hands on at every stage. Don’t shy away from playing barbies and showing your feminine side because that time you spend with your girls will help craft the image in your girls mind of what kind of guy she will look for in a boyfriend and husband. That will help protect them from getting hurt by a guy that isn’t worth it.

  41. kingpin says

    why would you want your daughter to find the love of her life early? Don’t you want her to enjoy life and be happy by experiencing the pleasure different men of all stripes can provide her? She has to decide what she wants, we cannot put our wants into our children.

  42. says

    Awww…. I came to this conversation late, by way of Blue Collar Workman.

    Dude! There’s only one way to prepare for parenthood, and that’s by watching your own parents. Do what they did that worked. Try not to do what they did that didn’t work. And don’t be surprised to hear your dad’s or your mom’s voice come out of your mouth about the first time the kid is old enough to understand a full sentence.

    All those good things you said in your post: Yes.

    Otherwise: just take time to enjoy the kid while she’s a kid. Life is short. Eternity is long.

  43. Melanie says

    I have a 3.5 year old daughter, and her daddy and I cringe at the day when she will be sweet-talked by some unworthy guy. All we can do is teach her to be resilient and kind and industrious. I worry about teaching her enough math, shielding her from Disney princesses and keeping her away from media that objectify women, probably written by people who don’t have daughters. I believe if I work hard enough on becoming a better person, she will be one too. I can’t teach her anything I don’t know already, I figure. Latest project: learning to be calm.
    PS I wish I’d read more of your site earlier!

  44. says

    The best parenting advice I have after doing this for 9.5 years is to take it day by day. You never know what will come up. We just take it as it comes and accept that it’s a wild, fun and sometimes stressful ride!

  45. Dan says

    My daughter was born in 2012 a month after my 33rd birthday. It is definitely very scary having a child. They are so fragile I am constantly worrying. Sometimes I think i am a bad father because i often feel like I don’t really enjoy child raising. I take care of her and know I am a good father but I feel guilty for not really enjoying parenthood sometimes. At least you are retired now so you will have the large amount of time required to raise kids. I don’t know how people do it having multiple kids. Some people make it look so easy. In the past I have always put myself first but I can’t do that now and it something I struggle with. This post may make me sound bad but I am trying to give an honest perspective.

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