To be a parent is to experience pure joy and utter dread all at the same time on a daily basis, especially for fathers.
Moms have that innate connection to their offspring, which is only natural as they have had nine more months of being interlinked. There’s good reason why maternal instinct is a widely accepted belief.
Paternal instinct? No such thing. Google it, and one of the top entries of your search even questions if it exists. Poor dads.
It’s this cluelessness to fatherhood that gets even the bravest of men nervous as the due date nears. But worry not, especially first-time dads, we got you covered.
Disclaimer: This is by no means a comprehensive guide to Daddyhood 101. It’s a life-long process, and each journey is different as many parents will attest.
But the purpose of this list is to provide you with the skills you need to brush up on before you end up with your little bundle of joy in your arms.
1) Basic baby care
At the very least, you are expected to know a few basics such as:
Carrying your baby (always support the neck for newborns);
Changing your little one’s diaper (it’s a rite of passage for dads);
Cleaning up that smelly, filthy butt (wipe towards the opposite direction of your baby’s delicate parts or do away with the wipes and just go with the good ol’ tabo);
Making the milk, in cases of non-breastfeeding moms, which at this point, we are duty-bound to remind that breastfeeding is best for babies (use the back of your hand to see if the milk is not too hot for your infant);
Giving your baby a bath (one of the most relaxing acts of fatherhood, until your kid gets old enough to do it alone);
Swaddling (like wrapping a burrito, but this burrito is a lot cuter and not edible at all).
Now on to the meat of the matter, here are some skills every father needs but not a lot of parenting seminars teach.
2) Enhance your night vision and ninja moves
Don’t get any bright ideas, this is a parenting article. Practice waking up in the middle of the night and doing anything without turning on the lights. Try to make no sound with every step. It will be useful for those god-forsaken hours went you’re about to pee but don’t want to wake the baby up.
3) Learn a sing-and-dance routine
You will never get straight, sound sleep for weeks, even months once your newborn arrives. A good song and a little dance will help limit the damage. This is a trial-and-error thing. Some babies fall back asleep with a little sway and the old-reliable lullaby. Others have far more complicated tastes in music and will give you that ‘this man doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t he know I’m hungry’ stare.
4) Take micronaps
Speaking of sleep, learn how to take small naps anywhere, anytime. Standing in the MRT, riding the bus, sitting in a meeting (just don’t get caught). Or there’s always coffee. Make that black.
5) Improve your chess game
Teaching your kid basketball, football, swimming, or boxing is too mainstream for a sports dad. Nothing raises the game than showing your mini-me that you’re the cerebral type of athlete. Plus, it gives you a quick response to the basketball hecklers’ favorite ‘kung ayaw mo masaktan, mag-chess ka na lang’ taunt.
6) Master a decent card or coin trick
That look of wonder in a child’s eyes as you show a properly executed magic trick will be one of those unforgettable memories. Fumble in your attempt and you rob the poor kid of the wonderful experience. Don’t be that dad.
7) Cuss with care
Watch your foul mouth from now on. You don’t want your little one to pick up the filthy habit from you, it taints your authority. Reserve those cracking bombs when the situation truly calls for it (say, your teenage son gets his high school sweetheart pregnant). In your kid's early years, try some colorful cussing like ‘Puttanesca’ or ‘leche flan naman o.’ Or perhaps you are more creative with cuss words than this hungry writer.
8) Open any jar
Changing a light bulb is basic stuff. For advanced dad skills, how about opening a jar in five seconds or less? Work on that grip strength to showcase your super strength to the little ones. Flexing those guns, not required.
9) Cook a signature pasta dish
Not pancit canton, certainly not the instant one. Or spaketchup—that’s too easy. Want to make a good impression on your offspring? Try oil-based pasta with a seafood topping of your choice. The suitors of your daughter will find her hard to please once you set that bar high.
10) Drive like a Fast & Furious stunt driver
Caution: use this skill only in emergency situations. Say, your pregnant wife or partner’s water bag bursts, or you need to rush your baby to the hospital. Otherwise, drive safe. We have too many Dom Toretto wannabes on the road as it is.
11) Meditate like a monk
You’ll need this in the difficult years—from toddler to teenage stage—when the baby you can’t take your eyes off before tests every nerve in your body to pop when asking for something you can’t give, aka more toys, more money, more freedom, more understanding. Find your center, fast.
12) Gun maintenance
For fathers with daughters, this is self-explanatory, but the caveat is, only do this for intimidation purposes. Think Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett dealing with a potential suitor to the latter’s daughter in Bad Boys 2. You know the drill.