Basic Training for New Dads: The Cord’s Cut, Now What?

Guest post submitted by Daniel Singley, Ph.D.

In writing this blog post about the class I’ve developed for new dads, a funny thought occurred to me: My own dad’s advice was always a bit of a mixed bag, and given that he was my model, who am I to give pointers? For example, at some point during the process of planning our wedding, my then-fiancée and I had some disagreement in which neither of us was giving any ground.  It was getting stressful, so I asked my dad for his thoughts. Unexpectedly, he completely avoided the specifics of our impasse and asked me, “Have you spent your whole life thinking about how beautiful you’ll look walking down the aisle in your wedding dress?”  “No,” I replied. “She has- that’s why it’s her day. You’re just decoration, so stay out of it and let her run the show.”  Much to my wife’s relief, I found that point hard to refute and capitulated. The wedding went beautifully.

Seven years later, after our first son was born, things were getting a bit stressful again, so I sought out my dad’s input on his own experience of being a new father. Once again, he sidestepped my specific questions entirely and said, “Remember what I told you about your wedding day? It’s the same thing with handling babies so get used to the drill.” Once again, the message was that I should step back and let my wife do it. A mixed bag indeed…  To be fair, I’m pretty sure he was kidding, and over the years my dear old dad has really helped me to be a better son, brother, husband, and father. However, if I had actually applied the same principle of being a “good groom” to being a “good husband/father,” I would have ended up being a pretty checked-out dad. Luckily, he also taught me that “real men” roll around on the floor with their kids and give them big wet kisses as often as possible.

Another reason why I’m facilitating classes specifically for fathers of young babies comes from my own experience as an “expectant” dad. When my wife was pregnant with our older son, all of the “parenting” classes we found were mostly targeting mothers and women’s needs. Similarly, I noticed a pretty clear trend in the “advice” that my friends and family tended to offer me versus my wife. It went something like this: “Your life will never be the same again, your new responsibilities will prevent you from doing the things you like to do, and you’ll wish you could go back to your blissful childless state.”  This input bugged me- even more so when I realized that the exact same people kept assuring my wife that she was about to enter a new magical, fulfilling phase of her life. Luckily, it turned out that these mixed messages we were receiving had more to do with other people’s stereotypes than with our actual experience. Still, those inconsistencies are at the heart of a catch-22 that is currently putting fathers of infants in a very difficult position: Society expects us to be highly involved with our babies from the very start, but new dads of this generation have often had minimal chances to actually learn how to do so.

It’s for this reason that I set up the Basic Training for New Dads classes – in order to give dads the knowledge, tools, and confidence they need to stay engaged with their babies and partners in their newly-expanded family. I’ll give some more details about some “nuts and bolts” ideas for new dads to hit the ground running with new daddy-dom in future posts, but you can also take a look at the information available on the classes at newdadsclass.com.

About the Author

Dr. Danny Singley is a licensed psychologist in the San Diego are who founded Basic Training for New Dads and specializes in working with men regarding a variety of men’s issues including new fatherhood. He enjoys reading, surfing, and rolling around on the floor giving big wet kisses to his wife and two boys.

Photo submitted by New Dads Class with permission.

 

About the author

The Parent Connection is a non-profit parenting support group sponsored by Scripps Health. Since 1980, The Parent Connection has been bringing San Diego families together to provide support, share experiences and information, enjoy social activities and build lasting relationships. Parent Connection annual special events are a great way to socialize with other members. And our membership benefits include group discounts to California theme parks and attractions, which more than cover the cost of annual membership. Join now!

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