Wrangling your existential thoughts about life as they apply to your kid
There are some days you’ll feel like you don’t deserve that #1 Dad mug. You’ll have dark irrational thoughts where you chastise yourself for spending so much time watching HBO instead of like, spelunking or volunteering at a shelter for one-legged puppies because for some reason you feel as though that would have made you a better role model or something. Every Dad wants his children to succeed (except John Lennon) and you start to wonder “Did I impart on my kids the life skills they needed to be independent decision makers? Should I tell my kid to follow her dreams, or are her dreams actually really stupid and it’s up to me to tell her? What if I’m wrong?”
“My parents both are extremely hardworking people who never really seemed to have to tell their kids what they inspired to be. Personally I want Tristan to do everything and find new stuff and I don't want him to grow up thinking life is just working and trying make sure the bills are paid on time. I guess I never want him to think his dreams are something he could never achieve.” - Eric, 25
Realizing that your progeny is going to be a selfish poop machine for some time
Babies are selfish, but they’re basically lumpy, slightly sentient potatoes so it’s ok. Toddlers? Just sentient enough to be annoying about it. How many times can one man be subjected to Frozen in a single lifetime? (Tangled was better.) Just keep holding on until they’re old enough to be assigned chores.
“He will bust out and dance to the Spongebob Squarepants theme song whenever it’s on, and then all of us have to dance and sing with him. It's like his baby version of every Adele song.” - Eric, 25
“Babies poop a lot and preferably on you if you're not on your guard. I wish I had known how much work caring for another person was.” - Sammy, 24
Dealing with teenagers
Do you think back and laugh at all the stupid crap you did when you were a teenager? Well your dad probably does too, except instead of laughter, his nostalgia manifests itself in nightmares reliving that terrible time he waited up for you in the living room, thinking you were lying in a ditch somewhere when you were really just hanging out in front of the 7-11 until 2am. (Why do they always assume it’s a ditch? Our infrastructure isn’t THAT bad to have so many ditches about.)
“Every time my teenaged sons would go out with one of the cars that they borrowed from us, we'd worry about whether they were going to come back in one piece, or if the car was going to come back in one piece.” - Robert, 76
“The teenaged years were probably the toughest. Before you're a teenager, you're kind of doing what your parents want you to do, but as you go through those teenage years, you listen less and less to your parents and for Dad that becomes a tougher thing. I think I got into probably the most serious discussions and battles with my sons when they were teenagers.” - George, 55
Coming to terms with the constant, crushing anxiety
With every phase a child enters in life comes a new onslaught anxious thoughts, and it doesn’t stop when they get older and have their own kids. Is the baby breathing? Isn’t he supposed to be talking by now? Why is that gap-toothed kid down the block is picking on her? Please don’t let him text while driving. Is she going to get into college? Why can’t he find a job? How will the kid ever pay back those loans? Oh my god, they’re moving where? Are they ready to be parents?
“At first I thought it was the sleepless nights, midnight feedings, and diaper changes. Later I thought it was helping with homework, teaching them to ride bikes, and boyfriend advice. But I’ve come to realize that the hardest thing about being a father is worry. Worrying if they will find a career that they will enjoy and prosper at. Worrying if they will find a man someday who will treat them with love & respect. But mostly just worrying if they will be healthy & happy in their adult lives.” - Mark, 60