By Stephon Chaney
The idea of becoming a father can be extremely intimidating. Yes, it's very exciting to find out that your wife is expecting (even if she informs you via text message), but for me that initial excitement lasted all of 5 minutes. After praying to God for my first born to be a boy, I immediately began to convince myself that I wasn't ready to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood, I even provided supporting arguments as to why I was not qualified. I pointed out areas in my professional life that had yet to fully develop into anything suitable for a father; one that would be responsible for financially supporting a growing family. I emphasized the fact that I was nowhere close to purchasing my dream home; one sufficient enough to comfortably house that growing family. I thought about extravagant vacations that Christina and I had planned to take, and that we would soon be required to factor in the existence of another human being prior to actually being able to go. I constantly reminded myself of everything that was lacking, which led to more thoughts of inadequacy and doubt. What's interesting is that several first time fathers that I speak with can relate to this experience. The good news is that I now have a new perspective, having completed a full year of fatherhood. My son, Luke, is now a thriving 1 year old and I had a little something to do with that! Simply put, at some point over the past year I found my New Dad Swag, and I've outlined a few tips that might help you in finding yours.
1. Don't Overthink It
There's no such thing as being 100% prepared for fatherhood. As a man, I know what's it's like to want everything to be picture perfect, prior to the baby's arrival. But as a man of faith, I'm also aware that "picture perfect" scenarios are rare, which is why faith is necessary in the first place (2 Corinthians 5:7). God reminded me of His consistency throughout my life, and that He had met every need that had arisen over the years. Why, now that I have a baby on the way, would He all of a sudden turn His back on me? He wouldn't. Granted, we have to use wisdom when planning for fatherhood. For example, we have to make sure the necessities are in place, such as adequate living space (babies are tiny, the mansion can wait), food (I highly recommend breast feeding if your wife is able, as formula can get expensive), and health insurance to cover the frequent doctor visits. Other than that, it's pretty much diapers, onesies, and swaddle blankets for the first couple of months. Don't overthink it.
2. Be the Example
If your baby is anything like mine, that little person will observe your every move. So be prepared to be stared at and mimicked on a daily basis. Knowing that my actions will ultimately shape my son's behavior motivates me to be excellent in everything that I do. Luke's perspective of a man will be predicated by what he sees in me. But not only that, his opinion of how husbands should treat their wives will be shaped directly by what he witnesses in the household. My son's moral standards will be established not only by what I teach him directly, but also by what he learns from silently observing my behavior behind the scenes. So It's imperative that I model good character, and live a life that reflects the heart of MY Father; the one whose image in which I was created.
3. Be Present
The best piece of advice I can offer to new or aspiring dads is to be present. There's no need for expensive toys because its highly likely that your baby will find more joy in a paper bag, your wife's headscarf, a shoestring, or a door stopper. The time that I spend with Luke is priceless. Whether we are reading one of the Dr. Seuss classics or rocking out to old school hip-hop, I make it a point not to miss a day of father/son bonding time. I try to avoid any distractions (working on not checking my phone as much), because I want to be in the moment. I want my son to know that I'm there for him, and that I always will be. Being present is a simple task, but please understand that it is not easy. Babies will wear you out! They're like little machines that don't seem to run out of battery power. But the joy in your child's face will be worth the workout.
The moral of the story? There is such a thing as that New Dad Swag... and I know because I found it! So be encouraged as you embark upon the journey of fatherhood, because you will find it as well.
I would be remiss not to mention the incredible wife that I get to share this journey with. Watching her flourish in motherhood is added motivation for me. I strive to be the best father I can possibly be because I know Christina endeavors to be the most amazing mother on the planet. I actually wouldn't mind getting her pregnant at least 3 more times because of how great of a mom she is (Pray for her)! For now, we celebrate one year of life for our son, Luke... and we celebrate everything that is to come. Please celebrate with us by clicking the video link below!