Parenting Advice From Men Who Have Been There
Parenting Advice From Men Who Have Been There

Parenting Advice From Men Who Have Been There


Whether you’re about to become a dad or are already deep in the trenches, some brotherly advice from those who have been there and done it can always be useful. From building confidence and self-esteem to getting through the more challenging days, here are a few hard-won words of wisdom from the experts…
Photography Rob and Julia Campbell/stocksy united

Make The Most Of It

“Time is precious when you’re a dad. Spend every moment embracing your new responsibility and remember experiences shape your little one’s life over materialistic things, so try to get out there and enjoy time as a family. The moment your child is born, you make a new best friend for life. From someone who is unknown to you, a child straight away becomes the biggest part of your life – there’s no feeling like it. They’re going to look up to you as their role model, so make sure you’re ready to inspire them.” – James Davies, husband of Midwife Pip 

Read & Listen More

“I’ve been a dad for 17 years now. My top piece of advice is to educate yourself. I didn’t do anywhere near enough research before becoming a dad. If you can, read at least one well-reviewed book on being a great parent, and another on child development – more if you can. There’s also a brilliant podcast on Spotify, Revealing Fatherhood, which is a collection of 30+ stories from dads around the world. One of the most common myths that still prevails is that the dad is the less important or more distant parent. These ideas are changing fast which is great, so educate yourself on the best dad you can be.” – Mark Hardwick, chief technology officer at Babbu 

Don’t Fear The First Few Months

“One of the biggest myths about being a dad is that the first few months are something to be feared. Prior to the birth, so many people will say, with a wink and a nudge, something along the lines of ‘get your sleeping done now’. While it is true sleep will be disrupted and previous routines will go out the window, those first few months are exciting, joyful and fulfilling. Nobody will depend on you, cherish you and look up to you the way your baby will and it's a thrilling experience.” – Hugh Coyne, GP at The Bump Class & Coyne Medical 

Beware Gender Biases

“If you have a boy, accept that they may love dolls, dresses, make-up and hate ball sports, even if you love them. At the same time, if you have a girl, accept she may hate dresses and love sports. Plus, don’t assume all kids will love fiction (e.g. Disney) over science (science, astronomy, documentaries and reading non-fiction). It’s something we as parents have been sold – kids love interesting things and they don’t have to be cartoons.” – Mark  

“Being a dad means learning to pace your life differently. Kids don’t understand time – they’re wired to explore and push boundaries.”

Learn To Live At Multiple Speeds

“Young kids don’t understand time. They don’t grasp what ‘being in a hurry’ means – in fact, they’re wired to explore and push boundaries. Being a dad means learning to pace your life differently. You may need to think and move fast at work, but you move at a different speed with kids. They need more time, patience, love and teaching, so factor that time into your schedule.” – Mark 

Invest In Education

“If your little one isn’t here yet, educate yourself. An antenatal and hypnobirthing course is a must – just make sure it’s from a highly qualified practitioner so you have an evidence-based approach to birth. These courses are for both parents, and you should attend together. Remember you’re there to support your partner and instil confidence in them through the whole journey. If you aren’t informed or have no clue what’s happening, you can’t be the help and support she needs you to be.” – James 

Don’t Compare

“Every baby, toddler and child develops at a different rate, so don’t panic if you see a child the same age doing something your little one can’t do. Rest assured time will even everything out. Don’t worry what others think of your choices or parenting. Focus on your little one – at the end of the day, you’re the only expert on your child.” – James

Communicate With Each Other

“Being a parent is bloody hard work, especially in those early weeks and months, when sleep is interrupted, the little one is teething, and the cycle keeps repeating. It’s important you and your partner’s relationship is strong, so you communicate and work cohesively together to best support one another. When one is struggling, the other steps up, and vice versa. Make a plan of action: who will be on the night shift, who’s doing what mealtimes, and who’s doing the washing and tidying. At the same time, be prepared for nothing to go to plan and learn to be adaptable – that’s how we become experts at parenting.” – James 


Trust Your Gut

“As a dad to three boys, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to trust your gut – a parent’s intuition is almost always right. Don’t let others make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. There are so many opinions out there and you’ll find others are more than happy to dish out unsolicited advice. This doesn’t mean you should never seek out external advice, but if you think something is unusual or out of the ordinary for your child, then you’re probably right. Parents know best – and that includes you as the dad.” – Christopher Money, co-founder & MD at Kit & Kin 

Be Kind

“I question the traditional gender stereotype roles within parenting. As a dad, I’ve found I’m sometimes called upon in moments where a more authoritative style of disciple is required. But I’ve also done far more nurturing and providing than I expected and have loved this aspect of being a dad. I can think about the kids’ needs, how they’re feeling, and respond with care. I’ve learned that being authoritarian, scary and critical isn’t the role of a father. Each time I’ve lost my temper or laid down tough love, it’s created distance between me and my children, and they’ve not benefited from the bruising and mistuned approach. My wife has shown me the incredible value of meeting children’s basic needs as a priority, way before discipline, behaviour, manners and rules.” – Jordan Vyas-Lee, psychotherapist & co-founder of Kove 

Know Everything Is A Phase

“Ride it out. Whether it’s the early months and you’re exhausted, the toddler years and they’re running riot, or teenagers that are 13 going on 18, you can only address every situation as best you can and hope that they continue to grow and evolve into an adult that will help to make the world a better place in the unique way that only he or she can.” – Christopher 

Don’t Assume You Need It All Figured Out

“You don’t have to be an instant parenting expert. As a dad, you’re going to have an onslaught of new experiences coming your way, and for many of them you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. Fumbling through fatherhood is part of the joy of being a dad – talk about it with others, and don’t isolate yourself.” – Kevin Maguire, founder of The New Fatherhood

Lean Into It

“As a society, we spend millions on self-help books, courses and personal growth. But becoming a dad is the biggest transformational opportunity life will ever throw your way. It will make you reconsider your own childhood, the choices your parents made, the things you care about, and what to prioritise in your life. It's a cliché, but fatherhood does indeed change everything—and if you learn how to lean into it, those changes will be for the better, across all aspects of your life.” – Kevin 

“Trust your gut – a parent’s intuition is almost always right. Don’t let others make you feel like you’re doing it wrong.”

Have Perspective

“I always appreciate William B Irvine’s ‘Last Time Meditation’ thought. Essentially, when you’re doing something, reflect on the possibility that this might be the last time you do it. This can help change your perspective on a tricky situation. I had this recently with my daughter while drying her hair. She hates getting it dried – and I hate drying it too, because she complains, won't sit still, and gets frustrated with me as I attempt to comb out all the knots. We both end up annoyed with each other. The other day, I was thinking about this meditation and realised that, very soon, she's going to be drying her own hair. And you know what? I'm really going to miss doing this. In an instant, it completely changed the way I saw the situation.” – Kevin 

Be A Team Player

“Every parent is different, and everyone’s situation is different, and you’ll quickly realise everyone has their own way of doing things, despite going through a lot of the same things. Be a team player and make sure you’re willing to compromise with your partner. You have so many more decisions to make in a day as a parent, and they’re a lot easier when you’re on the same page.” – Ed Lewis-Pratt, co-founder of Roarsome

Give Your Kids Freedom Within Boundaries

“One phrase that has stuck with me is giving your kids ‘freedom within boundaries’. This means giving them structure but allowing them space to explore within that, building their confidence and their own authentic personalities. One of the hardest things is to try and not put your fears on your children, and let them work things out for themselves. Remembering that fear is a learnt behaviour and something that kids don’t really have. Our son is currently trying to walk, and I have to close my eyes sometimes when he charges across the room with his walker, but he always surprises me with how capable he is. We find that the more we empower him to make his own decisions and choices, the more he grows.” – Ed 

Respond, Don’t React

“Children are a gift and a blessing, but being a parent takes a lot of hard work and commitment beyond just caring for them. Problems will arise and you need to find innovative ways to approach them that feel right for you and your family, as well as for the benefit of your child as they grow up. Learning to respond to a situation rather than react has been a huge lesson for me; remembering the way you react with and around your child might have an impact on them far into adulthood. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Always try and actively listen to what your kids have to say and try to understand where your children are coming from rather than just reacting or barking at them. This is particularly important as they become older, and have thoughts and opinions in their own right.” – Nathan Dennis, co-founder of First Class Foundation 

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at [email protected].