Cynicism in fatherhood drives me insane.
“Yeah, have fun never sleeping again.”
“Good luck finding time for hobbies once the baby comes.”
If anything, it’s the projections that drive me up a wall. Like building themselves up during an understandably difficult season is too much, so instead, their goal is to bring others down, recruiting others to commiserate with them about how their children are conspiring to make their lives difficult.
Nobody needs to tell you parenting is hard. Anybody who’s spent one hour as a parent could tell you that. But when it comes to the people speaking into your life, what are they saying?
I’m not here to tell you parenting is all roses and 7-minute episodes of Bluey. I’d be disingenuous if I told you that. But if an expectant father came to me looking for advice, bright-eyed and eager for this new chapter, and the tone of my advice was doom and gloom with a side of cynicism, well, I’d be a real jerk and a poor friend.
Parenting is a complex collection of humanity’s rawest moments combined with infinite hope.
Sure, parenting is challenging in its output and lack of appreciation, but the journey through milestones, both big and small, is worth it.
If there’s one piece of advice I have for new dads, it’s to surround yourself with dads who give a damn!
I’m talking about dads who understand the challenges of new seasons but still show up, finding ways to clear the hurdles behind them for others.
I’m talking about the dads who, when faced when a struggle, don’t immediately turn to talk down their partners to anyone who will listen.
The men who tell you to “enjoy your last days of freedom” days before your child arrives, that’s who I’m talking about.
I’ve enjoyed a meme or more poking fun at the lunacy of kids. I’ve got good laughs out of content designed to accentuate the negative stereotypes of many moms and dads.
The issue isn’t in acknowledging certain realities. As I said above, parenting is hard, and anyone who feels otherwise is not somebody I need in my circle. But when pessimism and cynism become the driving tenant of somebody’s advice for surviving the early years of fatherhood, run.
Elle Kaplan wrote in 2016, Why Negative People Are Literally Killing You (and How to Protect Your Positivity). In it, she says:
Happiness is something that we all strive for. While it’s nearly impossible to rid negative thoughts, people and situations altogether (we’ll always have good and bad days), we can choose to strip away the parts our life that bring us down and instead refocus that energy towards being the best versions of ourselves.
If you’re a new or expecting dad, and the contradictory advice from others and the weight of this moment are weighing heavily on you, I want to tell you you’ve got this.
If you care enough to read this article from a relatively new writer in the parenting space, you will be great. Chances are you did some deep research to even find this piece, and if you’re doing that much research, I know you care.
A large chunk of fatherhood is showing empathy for those around you — translation, it’s giving a damn.
Another chunk is listening, learning, and putting yourself in a position to grow, repeatedly chasing sunshine over dark clouds.
Dark clouds are all around you. At times, they’re inevitable. And let’s be honest; an all-sunshine diet won’t get the job done either. But you’ve got the ability to build roots somewhere special in an environment that lifts you up by giving you the full scope of the human experience.
Fatherhood is a unique level of joy in its ability to both break your heart and produce tears of happiness, sometimes within minutes of each other. But the rollercoaster of emotions is what makes us human. Surround yourself with dads who won’t take that feeling away.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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