20 things every dad should know

Terreece M. Clarke
Columbus Parent

Wash, rinse, repeat. Close cover before striking. Two lullabies and 10 minutes of gentle rocking at 7 p.m.

Almost everything comes with instructions. People receive huge packets written in several languages detailing the do's and don'ts of electronic equipment, furniture and automobiles. Unfortunately, the how-to manual everyone wants to read does not exist--the manual on being a parent. While we don't have a magical how-to book, we have gathered advice from dads and experts that should help a little bit. (Feel free to post on your refrigerator.)

"It's not as hard as I feared," said Brad Dresbach, father of two whose wife is expecting again.

I wish I had known:

"I wish I had known that my car would never be as clean as it once was," said Shakeer Abdullah, father of a 2-year-old.

"I'm the greatest influence in my daughter's life," said Carl Goodwin, father of two.

"How many injuries I would sustain from my children," said David Clarke, father of two kids, ages 4 and 1.

"I'd forget all the hard parts long before the memories of the good parts even start to fade," Dresbach said.

"I wish I had known how much peace, joy, and love a child could bring; I would have had one sooner," Abdullah said.

Expert advice:

Re-examine your relationship with your father. "As you're thinking about your father, remember that what's really going on is that you're worried about what kind of a father you will be when your baby arrives," notes The Expectant Father, by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash.

"Teach healthy habits for life. Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, like taking a walk around the block or playing organized or pick-up sports with other dads and their children. Limit television, video, and computer time," former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said. "Be a good role model for all these healthy habits."

"Get involved in the day-to-day decisions that affect your kids' lives," advises The Expectant Father, by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash. "Sure, somebody has to schlep the kids all over town to doctor appointments and ballet lessons, but that shouldn't be the only contact you have with them."

"Make, 'I'm sorry' part of your vocabulary. We all know how children mimic what they see, so give them something positive to mimic and you will teach them many valuable lessons, including truth, integrity, morality and forgiveness," states iVillage.com.

"Real men change diapers," Father's First Step, by Robert W. Sears and James M. Sears.

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a 50 percent chance of being right,"

Bill Cosby said.

"Show [your child's] mother respect at all times," Father to Son: Life Lessons on Raising a Boy, by Harry Harrison Jr.

"Read all the advice books and baby guides you want, but trust your instincts. They're good." Mother to Son: Shared Wisdom From the Heart, by Melissa Harrison.

Best advice I've ever received:

"Each child is uniquely different," Goodwin said. "They will require a love as unique as their personalities."

"Best pieces of advice I received were 'to be patient' and 'to talk to my child as if he understood every word I was saying and soon, he will understand,'" Abdullah said.

"Try to see and say everything from their point of view," Dresbach said.

"Teach them right and wrong. If you don't, someone else will," Goodwin said.

"Treat kids with respect and empathy, and allow them to see us treating others that same way," Dresbach said.

"Don't get caught in the 'quality time' trap. After all, what time with your child is not quality time? Your kids need lots of your time--structured and unstructured," says Fathers.com.

Dad-geared websites:



Dad's Den







Between Me and You Dad, by Sand Dune Publishing

Fatherhood, by Bill Cosby

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, by Meg Meeker

Better Dads, Stronger Sons: How Fathers Can Guide Boys to Become Men of Character, by Rick Johnson

Gay Fathers: Encouraging the Hearts of Gay Dads and Their Families, by Robert L. Barret and Bryan E. Robinson

A Little Book of Parenting Skills, by Mark Brad

The Father's Almanac: From Pregnancy to Pre-school, Baby Care to Behavior, the Complete and Indispensable Book of Practical Advice and Ideas for Every Man Discovering the Fun and Challenge of Fatherhood, by S. Adams Sullivan

Keeping the Baby Alive till Your Wife Gets Home, by Walter Roark

The Warrior Method, by Raymond A. Winbush, Ph.D.

Dad tips from ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County)

Men can suffer from postpartum depression, too.

According to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 62 percent of fathers felt blue some time during the first four months following the birth of their baby. Many factors can contribute to these feelings, including fear of fatherhoo, worries related to new responsibilities, loss of freedom, financial concerns or stress over added expenses, worries about whether a current salary will be sufficient, and role anxieties, such as wondering if "I will be a good father," and " Will I parent like my father did?"

Fathers have a great impact on their children's lives.

Spending time with our children has many positive affects on mental health --children learn to feel appreciated, have greater self-esteem and are able to achieve more intimate relationships in adulthood. Historically, more emphasis has been placed on the mother's role with children, but recent studies show that a father's active involvement can have a profound effect on a child's well-being that is much different than a mother's, and lasts into adulthood. Children of active fathers demonstrate better grades in school, are less likely to be involved with drugs or alcohol, and are more emotionally secure.

Content courtesy of the ADAMH Board of Franklin County.


Terreece M. Clarke has been a published freelance writer since 1999 for a variety of Web sites, magazines and newspapers. Along with syndicated column work, Terreece has also produced hard news, feature and humor articles and is an accomplished photojournalist. Terreece lives in Columbus with her husband David, 2-year-old daughter Olivia and fish Zippy.