What’s the Best Advice You Never Got?

Doug FrenchFatherhood on Friday

Not too long ago, there weren’t a lot of resources for expectant dads to consult. Most of us relied on counsel from our own fathers, our partners, and Armin Brott’s trailblazing book, The Expectant Father. In these more enlightened times, there is a wealth of books, podcasts, YouTube channels, chat rooms (and conferences) where men can discuss the wisdom that only comes from experience and pay it all forward.

Inspired by these many networks of discussion, we posted this to our social media platforms: 

The responses were so extraordinary and introspective and wise, we decided to share some of them here: 

Don’t feel bad if you don’t instantaneously bond with your newborn infant. Like most relationships, fatherhood develops over time. Just always do your best for your child and everything else will come.

It’s easy and common to feel like a third wheel in the face of the physical bond between a mother and child. Sometimes, your only recourse is patience, which many men are socialized not to possess or cultivate. 

You don’t have to react immediately to disrespect or misbehavior.

So much about masculinity revolves around defending your dignity and standing your ground, but all that goes out the window with a young child. Bad behavior has consequences, of course, but we succeed at cultivating better behavior when we probe why the bad behavior happened in the first place. 

Let them see you struggle. Let them see you make mistakes and try again. Let them see you disagree with your partner/co-parent/whatever without making it personal.

We’re not perfect, we’re vulnerable, and we screw up. We learn the most about ourselves whenever we’re wrong about something, and we deepen our relationships when we ask for help or forgiveness.

Parenting is sacrifice, not only for your children, but also for your significant other. That doesn’t mean you no longer have needs that should be met; it just means communicate, communicate, communicate.

Invest the time in yourself and your relationship to reinforce the foundation of your family. We actually do hear this a lot, but we rarely understand its importance until we experience parenthood firsthand.

Just as it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in a profession, it takes a similar intentional process to master the artful science of fatherhood.

We liked this one particularly, because it stresses two of the most important throughlines of our lives: hard work and perseverance. And it ended with the quote often mis-attributed to Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Perhaps the most reductively elegant response on our Instagram Stories was this:

So to sum up: As you get ready to expect the unexpected, get ready to learn how to be patient, to persevere, to fail, and to evolve within an experience that will often simultaneously inflate your heart to new volumes and crack it in half.


Before you decide whether to get your kid a tablet, decide what your kid will do with it.

Nine-year-old Davidson wanted to tell the story of what life is like when your dad is a Green Beret who’s been deployed 10 times. So he wrote a book, and his dad illustrated it.

Since studies show the benefits of rougher play, here’s a great piece about a fathers’ playgroup, where they don’t shy away from using their kids as baseball bats.

Retired Marine Ben Killoy started his “Military Veteran Dad” podcast to connect with his brothers in arms by sharing his own struggles.

According to Tom Hanks, “The only thing a parent can do is say ‘I love you, there’s nothing you can do wrong, you cannot hurt my feelings, I hope you will forgive me on occasion, and what do you need me to do?‘”

When you teach boys about masculinity, Casey Palmer thinks “it’s more important that they be allowed to be who they want to be, instead of becoming who society tells them to be.”

In Australia, more blokes need to talk about perinatal depression, which affects 100,000 Australian families every year.

What do you do when you see chatter about the differences between Boomer Dads and Millennial Dads? If you’re Dad 2.020 speaker Taylor Calmus, you poke fun at both.

Getting your kids to abandon their tech and go outside can be a real battle. But it’s still worth fighting.


“I want to live in a world where men feel no hesitation to embrace their feelings. I’m tired of living in a world where boys get to be only half alive.” — Billy Doidge Kilgore, The Key to Letting Boys Be Boys? See Them As the Emotional Beings They Are.

“Her friend asked who she waved at, and she said ‘that’s just my dad.’ The crack in my heart became a full break.” — Joseph Fowler, It Happened …

“He let out a loud scream, as they lifted him to cut off the umbilical cord. It was the first time I’ve cried so passionately in public without bothering to wipe off the endless rivers forming fast on my face.” — Eric Kinaga, Becoming A Father

“Surrounding yourself with people much older than yourself is a great way to put your own situation in perspective. So naturally, as I turned forty-five, I did the complete opposite.” — Jeremy Barnes, Keep Finding Firsts

“Finally, I give up and just choose an episode at random, upsetting them because I can’t conjure the precise 22 minutes of cartoon pony frolicking that they have in their fevered little minds.” — Sean O’Neal, Is Streaming Media Turning My Kids Into Entitled Monsters?



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