Non-Negotiable “Dad Skills”

Non-Negotiable "Dad Skills"

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A few weeks ago, I did a post that was meant to help new dads cope emotionally with their new role in life. Today, I figured I’d follow it up with something a little more practical. There are a number of essential “dad skills” that most of us never got taught, but will come in extremely handy when you become a father. Forget DIY and being able to change a tire in freezing winds, these are the skills that really matter…

Making Toys

Here, I’m not just talking about Lego, although there’s definitely going to be a lot of that. These kinds of toys allow you to cop out by simply following the instructions. I’m talking about being able to whip up a bat cave for your kid’s new action figure using nothing but a couple of shoe boxes, an empty Pringles can and tape. If you can’t improvise like this whenever your kid needs the next prop in their make-believe dramas, then be prepared to pay a lot for toys long before Christmas!

Creative Ways of Getting Babies to Sleep

Unfortunately, this isn’t one that you can really practice before you have a kid. You’re just going to have to learn on the job. This is a simple process for mom – she just has to breastfeed the baby until they fill up and pass out like a miniature drunk. Dads have to try all kinds of weird stuff to get it right; singing lullabies, rocking at various rhythms, getting the baby into a trance with a rattling toy, or boring them to unconsciousness with stories that don’t go anywhere. This is all trial and error, but soon you’ll find something that works for your kid.

Stealth Cooking

Most dads-to-be know that they have to be able to cook a healthy meal here and there. However, all the recipe books and sites like won’t save you from how fussy children can be. Obviously, letting them eat candy and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner isn’t an option. This is why you need to learn a skill that I’ve come to call “stealth cooking”. This is the subtle art of slipping fruit and veg into apparently plain food, without your kids being any the wiser. This may sound easy enough on the surface, but chopping a whole pepper into atoms (or close enough) is a very tricky thing to master. If you get caught sneaking any kind of icky “bits” into their SpongeBob SquarePants pasta shapes, the game is up!

Knowing your Dinosaurs

As a man, you’ve probably spent most of your life priding yourself on your sports and general knowledge trivia. However, if you didn’t major in palaeontology at college, you’re going to have to make some time for learning a whole new field: dinosaurs. Your kids, when they’re young at least, won’t care about how many homers Joe DiMaggio got in his career. For a few years, the only subject they’ll want to hear about is dinosaurs. If you don’t know the difference between a triceratops and a chasmosaurus, or how to pronounce epidexipteryx, then it may be time to watch a few documentaries. As a font of all knowledge, your kid will expect you to know the names of every dinosaur that ever walked the earth.

Police-Level Negotiation Skills 

You may have heard and read a fair amount on the “no” phase. Believe me, you don’t know the half of it until you’ve actually been there. Trying to tell a toddler to do something perfectly simple – getting in the bath, getting into their PJs, giving granny a kiss, can be about as easy as talking down a desperate bank robber with a room full of hostages. Choose your words carefully, learn how to apply reverse psychology, and pretty soon you’ll have your kids playing ball, at least the majority of the time.

Generally Retaining Your Sanity

By my estimates, the average toddler can say “daddy” about 50,000 times per hour, asking totally pointless questions at about half that rate. One day you’ll be trying to introduce your kid to the joys of fishing, and they’ll cut in by asking you what the bits in between the teeth of a comb are called. While you may be tempted to tune out and distract yourself from this constant noise, it’s one of your paternal duties to stay focused, and indulge your kid in whatever bizarre discussion they want to have. They’ll grow out of this eventually, and you’ll have a much stronger relationship if you can grit your teeth through it!

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