Written by: Christopher Sell
Primary Source: The Wednesday Wake Up
Have you ever thought about your daughter firing you from your job as her parent?
I know it’s a strange thing to think about. My daughter isn’t even a year old yet. We help her crawl and eat and she doesn’t really speak words – or at least coherent phrases that resemble the English language. So I admit it’s bizarre to be thinking about her as a quasi-adult in the future, informing me that my parenting duties are just not up to par and she’d like a new Dad.
But I don’t think I’m the only first-time dad who has worried about whether he’ll be good enough for his kid(s). It’s natural to be concerned, on occasion, about your aptitude for fatherhood. If this whole parenting thing were easy, there wouldn’t be millions of books focusing on strategies for being successful parents. There wouldn’t be support groups and blogs geared towards dads trying to discover how to be a “Good Dad”.
For new parents, the worries can be endless. Will my child like me? Will I like her? Will I know how to discipline them while reassuring them that I still love them? Will I have the patience to put up with their occasional screaming and crying and moments in which they decide to tell me “no”? For dads of daughters, the concerns can take on a different meaning, usually related to this central question:Will I be able to connect with my daughter? And if so, how?
As a first-time dad, I’ve spent a lot of hours thinking about this. And I’ll tell you, the biggest adjustment fatherhood has brought to my life is that of selflessness.
My life isn’t really about me anymore.
It is one thing to say it, but it’s entirely different to feel it.
Since the day she was born, my daughter has now become a fixture in every aspect of my life. Every decision I make now has to account for her, not just me (or my wife). If I’m contemplating a job change, I think about the impact it’ll have on her. If I wish to get away for the weekend, I think about how my daughter fits into those plans. We consider our little girl when we decide which part of the house we should renovate next – a wet bar in the basement or a children’s playroom upstairs (yep, you guessed correctly…the playroom). Even for something that is seemingly trivial, like going out for a dinner and a movie, we have to account for our daughter when making plans.
The shift from being self-centered to selfless hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. After nearly three decades of life without having to put someone else first practically all the time, the transition has been gradual. And believe me; I still miss those nights when we could catch dinner and a movie on a whim without a week’s worth of advanced planning and preparation.
But as I continue to adjust to a life that isn’t all about me anymore, I’ve learned along the way that the return on the investment is more than worth it.
The chance to spend time with my daughter makes the transition much easier. Some days I get to be with her quite a bit; other days, when I get home late from work, I may only get to see her for a few minutes, if at all. But putting her first has yielded the best ROI I can think of.
It’s easy to think about the time I’m spending with her and worry whether I’m doing all the right things, whether I’m truly connecting with her. A first-timer like me is always second-guessing decisions and speculating what a “good” dad would do in any given situation. Being a new dad sometimes feels like swimming in the dark – there’s no rulebook that instructs us on how to do this “fatherhood” thing for every single aspect of life. Sometimes being a dad leads us into uncharted territory. But I’ve learned the most important thing I can do for my daughter is to just be there for her. The rest will take care of itself.
Besides, it’ll be at least a few more years until she could start thinking about firing me from parenthood.
So for now, I’ve got some pretty decent job security to let me continue enjoying my most important job yet: being Daddy.