Become A Better Father: Time To Man Up Dads!

how to be a good father - become a better father

Before becoming a father in 2017, I dreaded changing diapers. Now that I am a father, I long to win the poop lottery. To see my boy take a gigantic dump is curiously gratifying. Digestion system. Check!

Before becoming a father, I wrote a lot about supporting mothers because I couldn't fathom having to carry a child in my belly for nine months. It didn't seem possible to naturally give birth to something so big. Watching a C-section video is also uncomfortable. I felt guilty not providing equal care. It was the least I could do.

But now that I am a father, I've come to realize that I haven't been giving fathers enough credit. Being a father is also damn hard work! From 11pm – 6:30am shifts, to then having to go grind it out at work, to providing constant moral support, I give props to all dads. I wish the mass media would better recognize dads rather than constantly vilify fathers for not doing enough.

There is a tremendous amount we fathers can do to provide for our children and make our partners' lives easier. I simply do not believe fathers are given enough credit. Most articles you see are about fathers not doing enough around the house or not spending enough time with their children.

But I believe encouragement is a strategically better way to make fathers try harder.

Become A Better Father

What is more painful? Seeing a loved one suffer or experience the suffering yourself? I argue the former is so much worse because there's nothing you can do to take away the pain. If there was some sort of pain transferring system, I'd enlist right away.

I've dreamt of fatherhood since I was 37, about two and a half years after I left my cozy day job that occasionally beat me with a stick. I needed time to get my life together before taking on the most important role of them all.

And although it took until almost age 40 to become a father, better late than never. In retrospect, I wish I had kids sooner. this way, I could be in the lives for a greater percentage of both of our lives. However as an older parent, I also recognize the ability to make up for lost time.

Here are some things I think every father or father-to-be should endeavor to do to become a better father. I'm frankly sick and tired of people pushing the narrative that we fathers aren't great parents.

How To Become A Better Father

1) Get your finances right.

If you aren't willing to be more financially disciplined for yourself, at least do so for your family. Believe everything you read about the cost of raising a child.

Your job as a father is to maintain or grow your income stream and balance sheet until your child is old enough to earn on his or her own. I encourage all fathers to have a net worth goal before and after having children.

If your partner can also grow her earnings while juggling a precious one, fantastic, but don't count on it. Please stay on top of your finances like a hawk. Once you have children, the stress at home goes up. By being on top of your finances, you at least eliminate one of the great stressors for all parents.

2) Make sure your job gives you time.

Screw the job that only gives you a couple weeks of paternity leave. The first three months of your child's life is both brilliant and trying at the same time. Your baby will only sleep for 1 – 3 hours at a time.

Further, your wife will go through tremendous hormonal changes that leave her happy one moment, and sad another. She will be incredibly sleep deprived. She needs you more than she will let on.

The easiest solution to get more time at home is to offer to work part-time from home. Providing some work is much better than providing no work. Post-pandemic, working more days at home is now the norm. However, trying to work full-time while taking care of a child full-time is practically impossible.

Therefore, it's up to all of us to find a job that provides more flexibility or speak up when we need more flexibility. One man decided to retire early because his law job took too much time. Further, he had a working spouse who could still bring home the bacon.

3) Give every hour you can spare.

Although you may be dead tired after working a 10-hour day, rest assured your partner will be even more tired taking care of a newborn due to the mixture of sleep deprivation, anxiety, and frustration along with joy.

If you can relieve your partner for one or two hours before going to work and providing hours of support after you come home, you will create a happier household.

Professionals in many occupations work 12 – 16 hour days to get ahead. If you're working less than that, allocate the difference towards taking care of your child.

A great goal for fathers is to try and spend the most time possible for the first 2-5 years of their child's life. When the child finally goes to preschool or kindergarten, more time can be used to relax, work, or do other things. But until then, fathers should try and gut it out.

4) Establish a stable place of residence.

It's important not to move residences during pregnancy and for at least a year after giving birth. The reason is to minimize stress and increase harmony. A lot can go wrong during and after pregnancy. It's no wonder why there's such a rush for parents-to-be to buy.

If you are a renter, I suggest building a positive relationship with your landlord now. The better your relationship, the less likely he will raise the rent or ask you to leave.

Simple things such as paying on time, fixing small things on your own and telling him about it, and sending a holiday card goes a long way. Do your best not to screw your landlord.

If you plan to buy a home in this still strong but fading housing market, then I suggest thinking about a forever home with the budget you can afford.

Although your forever home likely won't be forever given the average homeownership tenure is about 11 years post-pandemic, it helps to have one home for your children to grow up in.

Because my parents were in the U.S. foreign service, I had to constantly change homes every 2-4 years. The constant traveling wasn't conducive to establishing good friends or building deeper relationships with a community. However, moving around forced me to develop my social skills.

5) Build relationships with other fathers.

Every father should join a father's group, just like every mother should join a mother's group. Leaning only on one another can be tremendously taxing after a while, especially if you are both new to parenthood.

You need to gain support from other fathers who are going through the same thing. Society still hasn't fully embraced stay-at-home dads, even though there's no occupation more honorable than taking care of your child. Further, it can often take a while for toddlers to start loving their fathers as much as their mothers. While you’re waiting for more love, some interactions may be emotionally painful.

Check out your local fathers Meetup group online. There will likely be one that plans weekly or monthly gatherings. You will also feel less lonely as a result. Also make an effort to bond with other parents at your child's school. Making friends as an adult takes greater effort!

The importance of fatherhood

6) Read as much as you can about kids before and after.

There are actually manuals that will guide you to become a better, more confident father. I suggest reading books such as:

  • The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash
  • Don't Just Stand There: How to Be Helpful, Clued-In, Supportive
  • Engaged, Meaningful, and Relevant in the Delivery Room by Elissa Stein and Jon Lichtenstein
  • Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by By Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden.

The great thing about fatherhood is that there's been literally billions of fathers before you who have succeeded!

Once your children are born, it is helpful to continue reading to them every day. You will help develop their ear for language, especially if you're teaching more than one language. As a writer, I appreciate the effort it takes to put together a book. The more I read, the better I write and vice versa.

Speaking of books, I highly recommend you pick up a hard copy of my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That. The book helps you build more wealth and make more optimal decisions with your life. I touch upon family finances, private school, marriage, and so much more. I'm certain you will become a better father if you read my book.

Buy This Not That Book Reviews

7) Create a checklist of everything you want and get it done before your baby arrives.

It's likely that your partner will have a laundry list of things she'll buy off Amazon before the baby arrives. Amazon Prime is your friend. I suggest going through the items together to see what you really need. It's kind of like a pre-vacation checklist.

The most important items are obviously right fitting diapers, swaddles, outfits, a bassinet, a crib, a jumper seat, a changing table, pads for the changing table, baby wipes, a baby wipe warmer, a baby bath tub, Oogiebear, lots of tissues, NoseFrida, baby CPR guide, a stroller, a feeding/diaper changing/burping/pooping checklist, Windi (magic fart/poop stick), rash creams, baby formula, and more! We fathers must help relieve the mental load placed on mothers.

8) Plan the support network.

The first two weeks after birth will be a difficult time period. You must be 100% present for your partner during this time. It may or may not be a good idea for relatives with parental experience to come by for support or not. Have an open discussion.

I highly recommend hiring a postpartum doula (night doula) for the first month if you don't have anybody else to give you guidance at home. A postpartum doula will help give you confidence as parents, guide you on what to do, and help take care of your baby when you can no longer function. The biggest hurdle with getting a night doula is the cost.

After the 4th trimester, you can work on coordinating with friends and family when they can arrive. Don't take anything personally during these three months!

9) Be present with your children.

Not being present as a father is as evident as your dinner date texting at the table. Mothers know whether you're enthusiastically checked in, or unenthusiastically checked out. The #1 priority for all mothers is the survival of their baby. Therefore, even though they may love you like no other, that doesn't mean they will trust you like no other to sufficiently care for your child. You must earn their trust by being present.

Being present means looking at the baby while playing, observing the different sounds your baby makes, making deductive conclusions as to what the baby wants at any point in time, clearing a bassinet of potentially life-threatening clutter, singing and caressing the baby securely, driving defensively, and so on.

Perhaps one of the hardest things a parent must do is put their phones away while playing or caring for their child. As someone who has an online business, not checking my phone constantly is difficult. However, if we just set aside 30 – 60 minute time slots where checking a phone is off limits, we will become a much more present parent.

Kids notice when we aren't paying attention! Further, kids want to watch a screen as well.

One of the saddest facts is that the average amount of time a university-educated father in the U.S. spends with his kid is around 85 minutes a day. Let's try to do better than that.

Average amount of time fathers spend with their children a day in the United States and other developed countries

10) Provide constant reassurance to the mother.

You're on an unknown journey together. There will be tears of sadness, coupled with moments of joy. Embrace them all. Just because a woman is the one biologically able to have a child doesn't mean she has child-raising all figured out. Learn together. Give her confidence. Be the co-captain she needs. Learn to be patient.

Whatever can go wrong will go wrong when parenting. Your children will have temper tantrums. They may have a visual disability or a learning disability. Provide constant reassurance and strength that everything will be alright. Kids are tough. Thankfully, they will cope and get better. So will you.

Over time, our confidence as parents grow. When we had our second child, we were so much more relaxed because we knew what to expect.

Parental Leave By Country

11) Be congruent with your thoughts and actions

Finally, I realized in my fifth year of fatherhood that some of my beliefs were incongruent with my actions. Namely, that I thought I was a better father than I really was.

Because my children were almost always well-behaved with me and rascals with their mom, I thought I was doing a great job. When in reality, it was because I was always taking them to fun places and feeding them yummier foods.

Better fathers are not delusional. Instead, they are more self-aware and congruent with thoughts and actions.

Fathers, Do The Best That You Can

Being a good father is so difficult. We constantly have doubts about whether we are doing a good enough job.

Dad guilt could be even more prevalent than mom guilt because there are more full-time working fathers than full-time working mothers. As a result, more dads feel guilty about not spending as much time with their children because they're at work all day.

After leaving work in 2012, I began to structure my life so that I could be a more present father if that day came. This meant building passive income streams in order to not have to go back to work.

Being a present father also meant building an online income stream just in case my passive income streams disappeared. You just never know. One day, a crazy thing like a pandemic might crush your investments, get you laid off, or shut down your business operations.

In 2015, I also helped my wife engineer a severance so she could have maximum flexibility. We both wanted to be stay at home parents with at least our first one since we were novices. We bought a fixer-upper in a quiet neighborhood a year before and remodeled it before our baby came.

Despite all the planning, I've found it still so hard to be a good father. Many times, I'm physically and mentally exhausted because I'm trying to juggle too many things. Then, when I come across yet another article saying how fathers aren't doing enough, it makes me just want to give up. This article services as a kick in the pants to keep going!

My Hope As A Father Today

My biggest fear now is wondering whether my children will think I did a good enough job when they are older. The scariest thing about trying to be a good father is you don't know if your efforts will pay off until years down the road. You try to keep the faith, but the constant doubt is still there.

Children have an incredible way of humbling us. No matter what someone tells us or how our children treat us, let's keep our trying our best to be good fathers. Whatever happens to our children, so long as we did our best to raise them, we won't be left with doubt.

Related posts:

The Cost Of Raising Many Children Isn't Just The Money

When To Have More Children: A Rational Framwork

The Ideal Age Range To Have A Baby

Working To Be A Better Father Updates

Pre-pandemic Update 2019:

I wrote this post when my son was three months old. Being a father is way harder than I could have ever imagined. Your endurance and patience will be tested beyond your limits. You will always worry about your child's safety. But to see him hit every milestone is an absolute blessing. You cannot love someone more than you can love your child. Enjoy the moment and count your blessings!

Pandemic Update 6/21/2020:

Raising children in the middle of a global pandemic where schools and businesses are closed has been really tough. Our days have gotten a lot longer. However, I am thankful to be able to spend more time with my son and now six-month-old daughter. Spending more time together is one of the key positives of this difficult period.

Post-pandemic Update 2Q2021:

Our son is attending preschool again on August 25, 2021. His attendance will bring a lot of household relief given he’s been at home since March 2020. I will take a sabbatical and reassess everything. My hope is that when our son goes to school full-time, I'll be reinvigorated to write a lot more. If not, then I will re-retire and do something else that doesn't require as much work.

Post-pandemic Update 1Q2023:

Our daughter is three and is speaking non-stop! She is developing her own strong personality and we have our hands full. I regularly spend four-to-five ours a day with our children now. Having two is a lot of work! But I also feel so blessed. I’m no longer chopped liver, but the main course as both my kids want to spend a lot of time with me now. Here are my goals for 2023 as well as my 2022 review.

The time is going by extremely quickly and I have no regrets forsaking income for time with my children. I'm also excited to publish my first book with Penguin Random House entitled, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. I'll be thrilled if my kiddos can one day bring the book to show and tell!

About The Author

105 thoughts on “Become A Better Father: Time To Man Up Dads!”

  1. Anthony Tolbert

    Great write up Sam! 1, 3, 5, & 9 are my favorite.

    It’d be great to hear you sit down with Ryan Michler at Order of Man for a podcast to reach more dads with your insight and advice!

      1. Anthony Tolbert


        I do not know him personally, but have been following him for some time as I have FS. I reached out to him with the suggestion. See the link below for his website. Hope the two of you can make a connection.

  2. Sam, I applaud your efforts at pointing out the importance of a father and the role they should play. In today’s woke culture, father’s are often being thrown to the curb. Until recently even BLM had the following on their website
    “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable,”

    1. Thanks. I think more fathers need to speak up and voice what we do. It is said that fathers constantly get attacked in the media where we are made to feel not good enough.

      Every day since my son was born in 2017, I have been a stay at home dad raising him with my wife. At the same time, I’ve continued to work on FS and provide for our family. When criticizing, people need to be careful criticizing too much. Otherwise, fathers might give up all together.


  3. I will be a father of 4 in August 2021 at the age of 37 and I’m so lost on how to make secondary income, or even replace my current job with something that allows me to stay at home. I really don’t want to leave my company because I have built up my leave accrual here. At the same time, I want to be home lol If only I was smart enough to have a passive income that I could contribute with. My wife and I both make good money but if it was just her, it would be pretty tight. Ideally I’d like to put us in a position where she didn’t have to work… and maybe I work from home… or something like that. Its all so overwhelming. Since 2012 I’ve been struggling with debilitating anxiety, depression and panic attacks. They have ruled my life and I’m so tired of feeling like crap all the time. If money wasn’t an issue, I’d retire right now… of course that’s everyone though, right? lol

    1. I hear yah as a father of two.

      Life is an extra grind with little ones. We’ve been doing ~5 am – 8:15 pm every day since early March 2020. Looking forward to some in-person schooling this Fall.

      Look on the bright side. What a blessing to have 4 kids! We probably can’t have a third bc we are already in our 40s.

      1. Yeah, it does seem to get harder the older we get to do all the infant things… on the other hand, maybe it keeps us young? lol. I’m nervously excited about having the kids back in school as well. My oldest is going into middle school and I really don’t want him to miss out on the middle school experience… lockers, band, etc. I’ve been trying to learn the stock market using a small IRA I have, just to understand the basics. I’m treating that IRA due to its size like “play money” investing here and there, learning how to buy and sell etc… I know it can’t be as easy as it sounds to make good money in the stock market. If it were, everyone would be rich! lol Trying to learn what I can and see if I can generate something for the future.

  4. Really cool article. I’ve been reading your content for a long time now but for some reason never came across this fatherhood article. I guess previously I was more focused on the personal finance side of things but now that I’m expecting my first child, priorities have kind of shifted. I really like points #4 and #9. I’m from Hong Kong, one of the least affordable housing markets in the world. Purchasing a property, especially one big enough for a family of 4-5 is always on the top of my mind. #9 is just all around solid parenting advice. I’ve put a particular focus on staying physically fit because I hate the idea of being a dad that would rather take a nap or rest up instead of being present with my family

  5. Sergey I KALASHNIK

    Great Job Samurai! I love this. Dad’s are usually highly under appreciated. I can understand as some don’t want to participate or do much. This is very needed. Thank you! Father of 2. :D

  6. Mysticaltyger

    Thank you for posting all those stats about the benefits of having a father in the home. I am always on my soap box about America’s 40% out of wedlock birth rate. No wonder the middle class is shrinking!

  7. They didn’t have to be used consecutively, so I used one day for the birth and one day for when my wife and daughter got out of hospital, and a couple of vacation days after that. I worked the week that they were in the hospital, and spent all day of the weekend there with them. I had about a week of vacation days left, but those are also my sick days, so I had to reserve them in case my wife or I got sick that year, and ended up using most on that or on a summer vacation at her parents’ house. On the plus side, though, as a contractor I am eligible for overtime pay, so they don’t let me work overtime, meaning I was at home at a reasonable hour every day. Recently I moved to working from home full time (same job), which is even better.

    Her being bilingual (at a 3 year old level anyway) is great! I went into it thinking that even if she only got a short boost in pronunciation that would be a benefit for her future academic career, but she has done much better. I’d recommend it to anyone that know enough of a second language, especially for people from a multicultural background. That’s a big regret I had as an adult, not learning my dad’s language back when it was easy.

  8. Great post! My daughter is 3 years old now, and it has been incredible seeing how spending as much time as possible with her has influenced her development. We live in Japan (my wife is Japanese) and have been speaking English at home to help her become bilingual. I followed a very basic plan of just constantly talking to or around her, on top of reading lots of books. It was hard for the first year or so, before she could reply, but now she speaks English with me like any 3 year old, as well as Japanese with her grandparents, and can translate between them. The hardest thing was not speaking in Japanese, since I speak it fluently, and had to mentally switch when I get home. If you put in the effort, and know a non-local second language, the results are completely worth it.

    I must quibble about one thing, though, the nation comparison chart at the end of the article. I know Japan well, and only a small subset of people are eligible for 52 weeks of paternal leave. Basically, full employees in major firms, depending on management’s agreement, and due to the work culture here with fairly limited chance for negotiation. The best are foreign companies here, the worst are dispatch companies. For comparison, I am an IT contractor with a foreign company in Japan, and I got 2 days of paternity leave, which is unusually generous. Sweden, on the other hand, while it has a limited number of days reserved for the father only, has a total of I think 400 days which can be divided by the parents in any way they want, up until the kid is aged 8. My relatives there tend to take it in half-year alternates, so each parent has a stay at home experience. Sorry for the digression, but those charts always get on my nerves, since I certainly didn’t get 52 weeks off.

    1. Wow, only two days of paid paternity leave?

      Did you take more? Or did you go to ride back to work on the third day? Many Americans just at their unused vacation days to take more time off.

      Very cool about your daughter being bilingual.

  9. My inbox didn’t get any new post alerts from Financial Samurai (it did before) so I peeped my head in to check, awww look what I missed.

    Congratuations Sam!! And congratulations lucky little boy of Sam.

    I’m not a parent and won’t be for a long while but…since no one is asking (as most people here are parents too)…what in the world is a “poop lottery?!”

    Someone told me raising a kid is like building a house. #1 to #4 should be the foundation and #5 to #10 is everything else. That’s not easy at all. It’s a privilege to even hit 3/10 on that list for most Americans!

    I’m so blown away by the infograph. Really?! North America gets 0?! South Korean and Japan has the right idea!

  10. Awesome post,have only one issue with the heading though.I have seen way too many guys stay in bad situations whether it be marriage and the male is told to “man up”.The same goes for divorce settlements “man up”and pay her what she wants.Ive watched guys working injured and making their injuries worse by “manning up”.
    I raised my son as a single parent and was involved in every sport and activity that he participated in and he now works as a ticket tradesman and the one term I have told him that will wreck him financially,physically and socially is “man up”.I have pushed this on him because society uses this term to manipulate males into doing/accepting conditions that they shouldn’t but do to be accepted,a term used to bully males in our society.End of rant!

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for sharing.

      What are some specific points of advice you would suggest sons and men to do in difficult situations?

      This post is addressed towards new fathers, potential fathers to really pitch in to raise a child b/c I’m discovering in real-time our partners desperately need our help, even if they don’t say so. Raising a child is incredibly difficult, especially if your child has a disability/condition. Lots of love and support is needed.


  11. Steve D Poling

    you asked for tips on being a dad. most important thing i can recommend is consistency. be as consistent as gravity. you and mom have to be on the same page when dealing with kids. if she says X and you say X’ about junior’s upbringing, stop and negotiate a mutually suitable compromise. if mom does something you don’t believe in with the tyke, suck it up in front of junior, then get on the same page off stage. behavior is caught, not taught. model all the behaviors you want to see in the next generation. feel free to apologize to the kid when you realize you’ve erred, or been inconsistent. the honesty and humility are good lessons given by example.

  12. newparentinvest

    Awesome post as always! I’m a new dad as well and it actually inspired me to start my own blog. The amazon prime is a must but I also recommend getting registries at babies r us, buy buy baby, and others. They give free bottles, pacifiers, formula, clothes, etc. just for registering and anything you purchase from your registry you have up to a year to return. There were a bunch of gifts we got that our son never used and without a receipt ended up getting gift cards for before his first birthday.

    This was my first blog post:

  13. Congrats to you and your wife! And happy belated Father’s day. I have two little boys and fatherhood is definitely awesome. My one advice is to enjoy each stage. I know it is a bit cliché but it’s true. When my first was a baby, I’d wonder when he’d be old enough to run around and talk. But when he was old enough, I missed holding him like a baby and how he would explore new things. Fortunately, I got to experience that again with baby #2. So just enjoy your baby. Awesome that you are financially free so you are not as time crunched as many other parents.

  14. Sam, that’s so exciting! Congratulations!!

    With both you and your wife being retired, is there something particular keeping you tied to the SF area vs moving to a lower cost of living area? We’re enjoying NYC now, but we’re also contemplating a cheaper liberal city like Philadelphia for a future chapter in our lives. Curious how you weigh in on it for your personal situation.

    1. Thanks! We love San Francisco because of our friends, food, weather, vibrance, diversity, and outdoor activities. It’s really hard to leave since arriving in 2001.

      Also, we bought a beach or in 2014 and finally finished remodeling everything this year. So I’d like to be here for at least another three years until it’s time for kindergarten. At that time, we might move to Hawaii, where housing is a little bit cheaper and send our son to school there and be closer to my parents.

      Thankfully, San Francisco is not expensive to us yet because our house is taken care of. But education can be about twice the cost. Will cross that bridge when I comes!

      Related to the future:

  15. Stay at home dad to 3 here, been doing it for 12 years and love it. Non traditional for sure, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Lucky enough to have a wife with a great job making mid 6 figures.

  16. Congrats on your 1st Father’s Day Sam!

    My wife and I are expecting our 2nd little soon and the logistics/planning is making my head spin. Background (very typical of the Bay Area): Couple both making decent 6-fig income, renting (need to find a bigger place soon), need a daycare for new baby, hopefully same school as my oldest or close by at least, daycare/preK prices are through the roof! Stuff like this makes me want to quit and be a SAHD.

  17. Awww! Congrats on becoming a father and happy belated Father’s Day to you!

    I’m going to book mark this post and ask my hubby to refer to it if we ever have kids. I love seeing the challenges and rewards from a parents’ perspective. And thank you for being so honest about what parents have to go through, that way those of us still on the fence know what to expect. Too many parents just tell you about all the good parts but not the bad.

  18. Your First Million

    I have a 1 year old son. I was fortunate enough to actually get a full month off (paid parental leave) from work and it was the best thing in the world to be home with my wife and newborn son for a full month.

    My wife and I had been married for 8 years before we had our son. I think it is very smart (if you have the choice, sometimes we don’t) to wait until you are in a stabilized financial position before having children. Whether that means you’ve secured a solid career, are operating a business that has reached profitability, or something similar.

    I simply refused to have children before I was financially successful because I would not allow my children to be brought up in poverty… I wanted to create the best possible environment for raising children and be able to provide anything they could possibly need.

  19. Ms. Conviviality

    The best thing my dad did for us was to set a good example because when I’m stuck in a decision about what to do I ask myself “what would dad do?” If I were to choose one quality that best describes my dad it would be his ability to show loving kindness towards everyone. On my wedding day, I had a book where guests could write down some marriage advice for us and I was looking forward to what my dad had to say. He wrote that “when the water(person) is boiling you need to turn down the fire.” My husband and I have turned an escalating argument around by joking how it was time to turn the fire down.

  20. Am a very proud father of 2 boys. Very happy my 2nd graduated last Saturday and
    will be out in the wild working world next month. Yea, NO more tuition payments. It’s now time to think of retirement.

    Be ready for some tough love, FS.

  21. Dollar Barrister

    Happy Father’s Day! For me, becoming a dad was what spurred me into taking action with my finances. Looking back I can’t believe how careless I was, and I wish I had dedicated more of my 20s (I’m now in my late 30s) to focusing on good savings and spending habits.

    “Being present” is definitely the hardest challenge for me right now. I try and put my phone away during breakfast and dinner (and remind myself how lucky I am that I’m able to sit and have those meals with my wife and children.)

    The time goes by very quickly and they really do grow up so fast. Enjoy it!

  22. Congrats on becoming a father, Samurai! And thanks for the great Father’s Day post. A couple additional book recommendations for you and your readers:

    1. The Nurturing Father by Kyle Pruitt

    2. And Baby Makes Three by John and Julie Gottman

    3. For later — Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle … a lot of great info about being present for your kids instead of your smart phone.

  23. Friendly Russian

    Being a father is tough, but it so worth it.
    I have two beautiful daughters, they are 9 and 5 already. And you know, despite the fact that the first two years weren’t easy for me and my wife, we are thinking about the 3rd one.
    Because kids are great.
    And they are not that expensive that some media try to tell us

  24. Congrats on becoming a Dad and Happy Fathers Day! Nice post. Would agree with Mr Freaky Frugal above on your job is preparing them to become adults. With that said I would add that the best way is to be the person you desire your kids to be. Walk the talk. If you want your children when they leave the nest to walk with integrity, kindness, boldness, generosity etc, you live this out. I agree with the saying, more is caught then taught. Again congrats and agree with others that the journey is hard but worth it. Sometimes long days but the years fly by.

  25. Alex @ Asset plus

    Wow, Sam, this sounds like a big burden if you don’t prepare early. Congratulations!
    I guess for everything that’s going to be great, preparing and planning in advance is the key to success!

  26. Congratulations! I would agrue (as a mother of 5) that pregnancy is the BEST time to move! It makes nesting even more fun! At least it has for us.

    1. Wow! I can’t imagine raising 5. Any multi-tasking tips?

      I donno about moving during pregnancy. Gotta change the doctor perhaps, lots of appointments, worry during the first trimester, etc!

      Where were you moving from and too? And what were your reasons for moving?

  27. I’m a new dad myself at the age of 48. Had a daughter in December. Never thought I’d have kids, but remarrying my wife who is 12 years my junior put kids back in play. I can say that being an older father, that being fit and healthy is a top priority. Having kids this late does have some advantages-I’m more financially and mentally ready than I have ever been. Having been in the work force for so many years contributing to 401k, Roth IRA, HSA, regular brokerage has allowed us to build up a mountain of funds that will both allow us to be stay at home parents if we so choose. I’m currently working a 9 to 5 and she works from home doing research analysis for a university. Having this flexibility definitely allows me not to worry so much about our financial future and more able to be in the moment with our daughter. You have some very good reminders on helping out our wives as much as possible. Even though Mother’s Day just past it’s easy to take our wives for granted sometimes especially when they do such great jobs day in and day out.

    1. Very cool. Who woulda thunk it huh, at age 48? I think Steve Tyler from Aerosmith became a dad at 75 or something… so you’re still a spring chicken!

      Hooray for getting old!

  28. Sam – I have only been a father for 17 months so I am no expert but I must say that, based on my experience so far, this is probably the best piece written on the subject matter in existence.

  29. You definitely have the right idea. We have a 10 month old now. My husband really struggles with simplifying – he believes so strongly in his duty to provide which is constantly at odds with the limited amount of time we have together. He justifies it as “securing our future by sacrificing today” and I see it as “sacrificing today means having a broken relationship in the future”. Its tough and not as easy as it seems. I’m glad you’ve retired before having a baby, I look forward to the day we are retired and can choose the time we spend with our kid while also being true to ourselves as individuals.

    1. Thanks for sharing this feedback. You’ve highlighted an incredible important conflict that ever parent needs to work out!

      I understand now why so many parents divorce after kids. It’s in our DNA to provide as men. But if we don’t focus on the ends, and only the means, we can screw things up.

      1. In many cases, it’s one spouse that starts out very unhappy, eventually being reciprocal. Having kids throws another wrinkle in all of this. When divorcing with kids, it’s best to do so when the kids are <= 6 years old. Also, it's a good idea that both parents live close by so the kids can go house to house. A divorce can take a huge financial hit and you would have to start all over – but not without the ball-and-chain so you could be free to succeed and fulfill your dreams.

        Constant communication is key to a successful marriage.

  30. Congratulations to you and Mrs. FS, Sam!

    Happy Father’s Day to you and Caitlyn Jenner!;-)

  31. Grant @ Life Prep Couple

    Being a father is a special thing. Like everyone else says it is tough but rewarding. You really can’t understand it unless you have done it yourself.

    Those first few months are pretty intense but do everything in your power to relax and enjoy them. Take lots of pictures and videos as the will mean so much to you later.

    And remember millions of people do it everyday so you can certainly handle it to.

  32. Time is the most precious thing. Kids crave attention. Even when I’m doing something around the house, I find a way for my kid to help me, I’ll save a part of the project for him just so we spend some more time together (e.g., washing a paint brush or helping to tidy the garage).

  33. Sam,

    From all of the advice that I received as a young married father (many years ago) , here’s the one that became my guidepost:

    “As a father, the best thing to do for your child is to love their mother.”

    Enjoy your Father’s Day,


  34. The Green Swan

    Well said, Sam! Fatherhood is oh so important, definitely a role not to be taken lightly. I operated much the same as you have, reading all that I could beforehand and still today to help me be the best Dad I can. And supporting Mom as much as I could especially in those early months.

    While I wish I could spend more time during the day with the kiddos, my goal and plan is to keep busting my butt to build those passive income streams to one day retire early and devote even more time and energy to raising a health and happy family.

    Congrats to you on your newborn and your special and growing family. Happy belated Father’s Day!

  35. The Tepid Tamale

    Paternity leave? According to Wikipedia: ‘The United States, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, and several island countries in the Pacific Ocean are the only countries that do not require employers to provide paid time off for new parents.’ I have 5 kids, and have had to use vacation days to get any time off.

    Your post is awesome! I love being a dad so, so much. I hope more dads get engaged in the life of their kids. One tip that I am still in the middle of proving out. Don’t just make rules for your kids. The rules will be your rules, and they won’t see the need to follow them when they are on their own. Instead explain to them the choice you are making, and why you are making it. They make not agree in the heat of the moment that not having a 3rd piece of cake is the correct decision. But, at least you are explaining why. You will have to repeat this 5,000-10,000 times. But, over time hopefully these rules/guidelines will not be yours only, but a combination of you and your child. Then, when they have to make a decision on their own, they just may follow those rules/guidelines!

    1. “Instead explain to them the choice you are making” – I’m going to do so much of this.

      It makes a HUGE difference! I remember tearing up my dad’s documents on his typewriter one evening. Instead of yelling or hitting me, he said, “Son, I worked many hours typing up those documents. Please do not do that again.”

      That explanation made a huge impression.

  36. Congratulations! Have a kid will change your life forever. It’s different than I imagined, but fulfilling none the less. There will be a lot of sleepless nights. I’m so glad we don’t have to change diapers anymore. Oh, I never fit in with the dad group and I don’t think it’s a necessity.
    Happy Father’s Day.

    1. Thanks Joe. Now that I think of it, I am impressed you’ve been a SAHD for all these years. I think I would be lonely, and very tired if it was just me at home all day until my wife got back after 5pm. I feel free blessed we can both stay home and take turns.

  37. Financial Coach Brad

    When my daughter was born – 21 years ago – it changed my life!

    One thing I try to communicate to new fathers is to always check in with your priorities. Time flies. I can’t believe my daughter is a college senior. The younger years don’t last nearly as long as new dads expect. Make time to spend with your family. And treasure the time.

    The family dynamic you build when your kids are young will carry through into the later years.

  38. Having been financially independent for some years now (and being several years older than the Samurai)…
    I would just like to make the statement that the fastest way to go into debt is to reproduce! And the More offspring you have, the Faster you lose your wealth.
    This is no joke these days, as we now officially live in a narcissist nation where pissing away money is a favorite pastime!

    Well, actually, strike that… That’s the Second fastest way, The fastest way is to marry someone who is financially Lethal, but you probably already saw that one coming!

    1. Costs me less. Single-life I was going to Europe every 4 months, happy hour 3x a week, dates, restaurants, etc.

      Tonight I am watching Nick Jr on TV…

      Insurance is expensive and college can be a megaton bomb, but definitely worth it…

  39. Steve D Poling

    You said: “What is more painful? Seeing a loved one suffer or experience the suffering yourself? I argue the former is so much worse because there’s nothing you can do to take away the pain”

    I wholeheartedly agree. About a decade ago I went through cancer. I got through it after surgery and two bouts of chemo. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my wife and kids were suffering more from the disease than I was. Thus my prayers are often as much on behalf of the caregivers as for the afflicted.

  40. Save Splurge Deny Debt - Cameron

    Awesome list and awesome post, hope you enjoyed and amazing Father’s Day Sam!

    Being a father is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I am loving every minute of it, and always wanting to be a better father. This is a great list of things I have done or am always working on to get better.

    Since starting a blog, I love the other fathers that I have started talking with. he common bond of being a dad and sharing experiences is helpful in so many ways.

    Thanks for sharing!

  41. Congratulations to you and your wife Sam!!! May parenthood be everything you guys hope for and more!

    May you have many more Father’s day filled with socks and ties! :D

  42. Sam,
    Being a dad is awesome. I mean awesome. Yes I wish I did not have to work, but last week my 2 year old took my hand, grabbed my lunch bag, and walked me to the door for work. I mean how sweet is that.

    Seeing your loved ones in pain is way worse then being in pain. My wife almost bled out in labor and it was terrifying. I mean absolutely terrifying. She was not in pain but she could have died. Terrifying. Our son was also born with club feet. We knew it was coming and prepared but still it can be a lot.

    So I say be prepared for the unexpected.

    Talk soon and I am ready to join your NorCal Dad group.

    1. NorCal dad / blog group sounds like a blast! You’re kinda ahead of me, so how big of an age gap should be the max before it becomes an imbalance?

      I’m glad your wife and son are OK!

  43. Happy Father’s Day, Sam! I too had my daughter be born at the age of 40 and she is turning four in a few days. The first year is pretty tough but it gets easier from there. Enjoy the moments and all the novelty with the new ‘firsts’. Keep a journal and photo diary for your son that he can read when he is much older.

    Best wishes,


    1. Man, pretty crazy how fast time flies right? I remember when you told me your daughter was born.

      There will be no problems keeping a journal. I have FS after all! And I will have to limit the number of pictures I take… although I hear the iPhone 8 will have mega storage.

  44. If a Mother is the “heart”, a father is the “Brain”.


    And of course, with it comes the conventional tussle between heart and brain.

    A brain vs. heart role can be inter-played by experienced parents inter-changeably as the kid grows their own mind to play their parents.

    But thats the point.

    Financial freedom is a brain thingy.

    Unconditional love is a heart thingy.

    Somewhere in between lie our children, and our own life.

    Will elaborate, if this makes sense to anyone,

  45. Congrats and happy Father’s Day!!!!! Really good tips on how to be a better dad in this article. It’s pretty awesome technology today lets us take high res photos and videos to capture so many special moments. Our parents sure didn’t have that when we were born.

    You’re already an awesome dad based on how prepared you are and in how you think and act. Your son is one lucky little guy!

  46. High Income Parents

    Very nice. As a father of five, I’ve been fortunate to learn a bit over the last 15 years. You hit some awesome points and the other commenting here have as well.
    One thing that has stuck out to me is to play with your kids as long as you can. Figure out ways to keep getting out there and doing stuff other adults are probably thinking and sometimes saying you shouldn’t be doing.
    Ride bikes, do skateboard tricks, jump off the diving board and do flips on the trampoline with them. It keeps you young and healthy and encourages them to experiment with a parent’s guidance alongside them. Push them to try things that are hard and a little scary. Before you know it, they will be pushing you back and that is awesome.
    Happy Father’s Day!

    Tom @ HIP

    1. Thanks Tom. I totally am looking forward to being an active dad, which is why I need to continue exercising, eating right, and fitting into my pants for the next 23 years until he forgets all about me!

      * Tennis, basketball, football, soccer, badminton, baseball, hiking, jogging, biking, golf are all no problem for now. I can’t wait!

      1. And playing video games counts! I do a lot of bonding with my son by trying to keep up on the computer. Plus, honestly, it keeps me close to what he is seeing/ doing in the computer. It doesn’t all have to be sports.

  47. Congrats Sam & wife! Being a father is awesome and very rewarding. It gets better as the kid grows up as you can have more interactions together. I’m amazed with my kids everyday.

    Being a mother often is even harder than being a dad. It’s important to provide support and help to you wife whenever you can. And definitely work even harder on your relationship.

  48. Mr. Hammocker

    Fathers need to spend more time with kids. If finances are not in order, the father ends up spending more time working outside the home. When finances are in control, it is that much easier for the father to be around more.

    I cherish all of the moments I have spent with my dad. Great post on Father’s Day!

  49. This article speaks to so many things I look forward to when having a child one day. My dad taught me so many things and never missed a sport event, he worked long hours to provide for our family and still found time to take us fishing.

    The stats help solidify the importance we all know in having a father in our life. This post helps others to see that. Thank you for sharing !

  50. Theofficialjohnandre

    It’s tough. My son is 2 mnths tomorrow and I have been sleeping on a futon since birth. It is FINALLY getting a little better with sleep.

    The maternity rules in this country is inhumane. We are going single income for a couple years, thank God daddy has a side job.

    I was surprised that’s it not that expensive. I dont drink anymore, eat out less and haven’t traveled. The only killer is health insurance…but the infant is cheap.

  51. Apathy Ends

    We are 10 weeks into parenthood, great advice in the post Sam.

    My advice is start working on your patience, I am not a very patient person but newborns pretty much run the show and it can get frustrating at times. deep breaths and re-set when things get rough.

    I try to get my wife a 1-2 hour nap a few days a week when I get home from work, get some bonding time in and get her some in-interrupted sleep.

  52. Physician MD

    In regards to #2, what non-Silicon Valley job gives more than two weeks paternity leave? As a physician I am lucky to get more than 3 days let alone 2 weeks. Taking just those three days off means dozes of missed patient appointments, missed surgeries, etc.

    1. Johnson & Johnson now gives mothers 20 weeks maternity leave (birth/adoption) and the second partner 8 weeks of paid parental leave. The latter may be taken as a lump or spread out over the first year following a birth or adoption.

    2. Financial services jobs give paternity leave – my company gives non-birth parents 2 weeks and birth mothers 12 weeks. My husband’s company gives dads 5 weeks at 100% pay to be taken over 6 months – his old company was 6 weeks at 80% pay. They are definitely out there.

  53. Sam,
    I LOVE this article! I wish every family in my town of Chicago could read it. After working in the legal department of a local charity, I was shocked at how many families in our city were headed up by single moms. That’s a lot of the reasons why Chicago is having so many issues- not enough fathers sticking around to tell their kids NO.
    You will be an amazing father- you give so much to others… hope your ability to have children comes easy….sometimes it does not unfortunately.

    1. Chris, a lot of people don’t know this, but the most confusing day of the year in Chicago is Father’s Day.

      Seriously, we should be careful what we wish for as far as fathers sticking around. Sometimes ‘no father’ is better than a ‘Chicago father’.

      Dispute Over Wrong Drink At Starbucks Ends In Wrestling Match, Stabbing
      June 19, 2017 7:46 AM

      CHICAGO (CBS) — A trip to Starbucks ended violently on Sunday, after two customers got into argument over a wrong drink order, and one of them got cut with a knife.

      Witnesses said it started Sunday afternoon, when one customer apparently got into a dispute with staff because he got the wrong drink, and another customer tried to intervene…

    2. Thanks a lot Chris! I look forward to fatherhood.

      Why do you think the fathers don’t stick around? And what do you think are the reasons why the mothers take the risk of getting pregnant if they don’t feel there’s a high certainty of the father sticking around? What do the fathers do and where do they go?

      1. FS, the problem of absconding fathers in Chicago is even worse than we thought!

        Chicago was the only major U.S. city to lose population from 2015 to 2016
        Chicago’s population fell – the third straight year of population loss, according to the Census Bureau.

        (Chicago Tribune) By Marwa Eltagouri
        May 28, 2017, 3:00 AM |Reporting from CHICAGO

        Chicago was the only city among the nation’s 20 largest to lose population in 2016 — and it lost nearly double the number of residents as the year before, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

  54. Was a typical guy… didn’t really want kids early in marriage, wife got me to agree to the ol’ 5 year plan. Well, we realized about 3 years in that we had to do something different due to medical complications – so, we started. 18 months, no success – IVF. 2 rounds of IVF (free, due to great medical insurance) – BBG triplets.

    Flashback to about a year before we started trying – we got our finances mostly in order. No debt other than the house, started saving/investing as we knew how. Hadn’t found FS yet, so just dumped money in the company 401ks and kept working.

    Kids are 2.5 years old now.. because of the things we did previous to the kids being born, we survived:

    – Kids born at 28 weeks, 8 weeks in NICU, 1.2M in hospital bills.
    – Severe reflux from being born that early – kids ate $70 cans of formula (a can lasted 1 day).
    – My job giving me a 40% paycut.
    – 5 year stagnation in employment advancement.

    Now, we’re mostly on pace to retire on time (71% according to Personal Capital), and working on maximizing income / decreasing spending. Only debt is the mortgage and the van I had to buy for the kids. We’re going to launch to help with income, a blog that focuses on how to prepare for, live with, and survive having multiple kids at once.

    1. “People ask me, ‘what’s it like having five kids?’ I say, ‘picture having four kids….and you are drowning…and then somebody throws you a baby!” – Jim Gaffigan

      Chris, good thoughts to you and Mrs. Chris and! Looking forward to reading about your journey!

    2. Wow, what a journey! At least the IVF and $1.2M in medical bills was free right? Glad your triplets are doing well!

      One is hard enough to handle w/ the both of us a stay at home parents. I can’t imagine caring for 3 without full-time help. One for each!

  55. Congratulations Sam! And happy Father’s Day to you!

    Considering how much you give to total strangers in the hope to help and educate them, I have absolutely no doubt you will be a wonderful dad!

  56. Fatherhood is the best and hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I love spending as much time with my son and reaching FIRE is one of my main drivers so that I can spend more time with him especially since he actually wants to spend time with me right now. In the future, I’m sure that won’t always be the case so I’m trying to soak that up now while I can.

  57. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    Your post brings back some fond memories! I’m a father of 2 adult sons. I’m proud of both of them and both are doing well.

    You have a great list, but here are a couple of things I’d add to your list especially as your son gets older:

    1) Remember your job as a parent it to prepare your child for life. The more you can simulate the way the world works at home, the less surprised your child will be when he goes out into the “real” world. There are a lot of things your job as a parent is not. Your job is not to be his best friend although you may become good friends when he becomes an adult. Your job is not shower them with gifts because you feel guilty for spending less time. Your job is not to fill every waking minute with learning because a child needs to explore and play on his own.

    2) Once your child hits 18, the die has been cast. You have either done a good job or not, but there you’ll have much less influence than you had when he was younger.

    Anyway this stuff worked for me, so I hope it will be useful to you.

      1. My son is only 2, but I just can’t picture how I will rest well at night knowing he’ll be out there in the world by himself once he’s 18. I even feel sad thinking about what girl will give him his first heartbreak and what I’m gonna do about it. >_<

    1. Thanks for the additional tips! Is the die really cast though at 18?

      I messed up at 17.5, but really grew up quick in college b/c the real world was zooming in soon.

      I plan to definitely explain the reasons for the way things are instead of just telling him this and that.

      1. Mr. Freaky Frugal

        I think the die is cast in the sense that you – as a parent – have very limited influence after your child turns 18 and becomes an adult. Of course, your adult son will make mistakes, learn, and adapt just like everyone else.

    2. The die is cast long before age 18. You can see it in pre-schoolers which way they are going based on parenting. If you don’t spend time, don’t give a good example, don’t talk to the kid, are not present, discourage their interests in favour of your own, tease them, scare them, break promises, don’t provide routines, are not reliable, don’t give them chores and make it fun, don’t teach them things like how to cook or plant something, feed them junk food, let them sit in front of a screen all day, and are a show-off parent needing admiration from them and competing with them, you will have trouble when they are young that cannot be corrected later. Kids like any human need time/attention, safety, and a job.

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