Being a dad is great. It’s an experience that I can’t adequately describe in words. It is life changing. Living life for yourself is one thing, but knowing there is someone (or people) that need you to survive and look towards you for encouragement and protection is a feeling like no other. These little people who then become big people are slowly stoking the fires of their lives and we get to watch front row seat. Watching them grow and develop likes and dislikes, seeing their personalities develop, watching them overcome difficulty respective of their age. All of these things and more encompass the trials of parenting, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

I have a 3 year old boy and when I tell you he is my ultimate test, I mean that with all of my soul. He was my little baby boy fresh out of his mother’s womb and he was the most precious little guy I could have laid my eyes on. It felt like I stepped into another universe when I saw him at the hospital. I did skin to skin with him first and it was a different kind of experience. My entire sense of self shifted and all I saw in my future was making sure I was strong enough so that he could be even more powerful. I prioritized him above all else in my life. There is no video game more fun than playing with my son. No amount of money from any job could replace time with my son. There was no greater pleasure than seeing him smiling. It became a mission of my life to make his the best I could. I think all parents can sympathize with that. We want the best for our children and the first step to that is being the best version of ourselves. He has since grown into a 3 year old tyran- I mean 3 year old angel *nervous laughter* It’s a whole new ball game trying to keep him from hurting himself while also dealing with his newfound attitude, personality, independence, everything. I see pieces of myself in him that make me proud, but also show me that I need to make sure I have a handle on my own issues so they don’t replicate onto him. Our children literally have our genes, thus they also have our predisposition towards what we may be dealing with. He still has so much more to experience in life and I want him to be his best man living it.

Motherhood and fatherhood have many similarities, but many stark differences as well. We look to our mothers as a pillar of kindness. Caring, loving people who will be a little softer to us than anyone else in the world. (Hey, dads can be too!) We see our mothers as the women who carried us for nine months and continued to nurse us, kiss our wounds, and for the most part were an integral part of our child rearing. Society puts a certain pressure on mothers more than us dads. Nonetheless, fathers have a VERY important role. Mothers can do it by themselves, but that is a fate I would never wish on anyone. As fathers, we are the number one support for the mothers of our children. They can’t wake every night for every feeding. They cannot be the only source of child rearing. They did not create these little creatures on their own. As dads, we have a role to play in protecting and providing for our families. A woman is never more vulnerable than after giving birth, and thus the father is needed to provide care and protection for her and his children. A father’s role is pivotal in every sense of the word and a child’s upbringing can be made way more consistent with the dad’s involvement.

Fatherhood changes you. It makes you look at life differently and it forces you to look at yourself and make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. Our kids depend on us (whether they want to admit that or not) and it’s hard to be sturdy for them if we aren’t being mindful of our own performance and growth. As parents, our mental health is extremely important. Strides are being made to improve the mental health climate of the world and this will have a direct impact on the youth of tomorrow. They will have a head start at making sure they are mentally prepared for life’s hardships because their parents laid the groundwork for themselves and for their children. I plan to teach my kids all that I can about my struggles so that they can be prepared for their own with the experiences I share with them. Naturally they are their own people and they will deal with things their own way, but I feel it will help tremendously being forthcoming with them in order to bolster their mental health.

Fatherhood has made me a better man. I feel more equipped to deal with many things in my life and I have the power to become stronger for my kids. Your kids should light a fire in you to live life more purposely and dutifully. Our kids did not ask us to be here, so it is only right that we do our best, as men especially, to make sure that we are there to make their lives as happy as can be. Take them to games, the park, the gym. Spend time with them. Be available to them. Children love their involved dads and honestly the world might end up being a better place with more loving, caring dads who take care of their own wellness to make their kid’s lives fulfilling.