You’re a new dad! You’re probably feeling excited, nervous, insecure, and newly motivated. As a father of five sons, I’ve been thinking about lessons I’ve learned along the way. My goal in this post is to pass along some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned to help you as you begin your journey as a new dad.
1. Your relationship with your wife is going to change
Up until this point, your marriage has been all about the two of you. When the baby arrives, change begins! Now there are three (or more) of you in the home. By necessity, the way you relate to one another must change. Instead of merely relating to one another, now you will have to learn how to be a team in caring for another person. This will challenge your skills in communication, conflict resolution, and leadership. You might even feel tempted to resent the little person who is stealing your wife’s time and energy. If this happens, it’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up. You just need to grow up! Your relationship with your wife is going to change, but this is change for the better as you learn to love and appreciate one another in a whole new way. Don’t resist the change, but go with it. You can lead your family well in this moment by embracing change.
2. You’re WAY more selfish than you think you are
Getting married is like lighting a candle that begins to shine a dim light on your selfishness. Having children is like turning the stadium spotlights on your selfishness! There is a particular death to self that takes place when you have your first child. It will break you. But, take heart! This is one of the best things that can happen to you in life. As your selfishness is dashed to pieces, your ability to truly love will grow. When you feel yourself breaking, be thankful that God is forming character in you. He is making room for an abundant life that is poured out for others. As your selfishness breaks, your manliness grows.
3. You’re going to learn what it really means to feel stressed and tired
You only think you know what stress and tiredness feel like. Soon, you will have a deep appreciation for the parents around you. Maybe you’ve wondered why they are late to church, why they don’t show up to evening events, or why they can appear to be rigid about their family schedule. You are about to find out. You are about to become a much tougher man who is able to carry heavier and heavier loads. This is exciting! As you grow as a father, you will grow as a man of God who can take responsibility for your own life and for the lives of others. As you prove faithful with little, God will entrust you with more.
The support of the local church plays a major role in this area. You will need the wisdom, love, and community of the church as you raise your children. In your stress and exhaustion, don’t give up on being an active and vital member of the church. The people of God will be a source of life that helps to sustain your soul.
4. Your wife is going to need you more than ever
Birthing a child and caring for an infant are intense. Your wife is going to be completely exhausted for a while. Her body will need time to recover, and she will need time to emotionally and psychologically adapt to being a mother. She will likely not sleep well for weeks or months. As a husband, this means it’s time for you step up, be present and active, and look for ways to serve your wife. For every woman, this is going to look a little different. So, ask her how you can help and what would bless her the most. This might mean arranging dinner, cleaning the house, taking shifts during the night with the baby, or caring for the baby while she gets out of the house. This will also mean protecting her mental, physical and emotional state by helping her set good boundaries. The newborn stage does not last very long, but it is very demanding on the mother. Be present and active in the home, not checked out. Your wife needs you!
5. Discipline is hard work but worth it
As soon as your baby is born, you need to start thinking about the goal of being a parent. You want to raise a self-sufficient, self-supporting, and self-controlled adult. Children do not raise themselves. In fact, a child left to himself becomes a disgrace (Proverbs 29:15). One of your main jobs as a dad, especially with young children, is discipline. Children need formative and corrective discipline. This means you teach good habits and correct bad behavior. Most people would agree with this in principle, but it’s much harder to implement discipline than to agree that it’s a good thing. It will require your time, patience, energy, and consistency. I can assure you, however, that it will be worth every second you put into it. You love your children by disciplining them. This is one of the main ways you set them up for a blessed and successful life.
6. Your connection with your baby will come with time
It might take a few months to feel significantly connected with your baby. Most babies are very dependent on their mothers. Also, they do not interact much in the beginning. They basically just eat and sleep for a while. Your time as dad is coming, though! When the baby gets a little older, they are going to want you, know you, ask for you, and play with you as much as they can.
7. You will love this child more than you can imagine right now
Children are a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3), and being a father is one of the most rewarding endeavors in life. Your heart is going to grow as you love this little person. Your desire to see them love the Lord, to protect them, to bless them, and to provide for them will be overwhelming. Try to enjoy your days with your children while you have them in the home. Soon they will grow up, they will be starting families of their own, and they will not need you so much. All of that is good and appropriate, but you don’t want to miss your chance now to be with them and love them while they are little. Enjoy your children and the time God gives you with them! Being a dad is one greatest things in life.
Even as you love your own children more than you can imagine, you will begin to understand just how much your Father in heaven loves you. Allow God to work in your heart in this way. He wants to reveal more and more of his love for you as your Father. He wants your trust in him to be unfaltering, even as that baby inherently trusts you.
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