Preparing for Fatherhood: Parenting Tips From Our Favorite Dads

Being a dad is one of the two best jobs on earth. Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Collins, Colorado
Being a dad is one of the two best jobs on earth. Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Collins, Colorado
6/8/23 - By Ally Noel

There is no one way to be a great dad. However, there is a ton of advice out there on how to be a good dad. These positive parenting tips come directly from Mommy Poppins readers, writers, and editors—plus some dads and spouses—and offer a little guidance down the road of Fatherhood.

While some of these are funny, you might want to have tissues handy, as the dads—and a few moms who couldn't resist chiming in—had some pretty heartfelt advice! If you're looking to roar with laughter at some dad humor, might we suggest these 50 funny dad jokes, from sports and Star Wars jokes to parenthood jokes and gags

One thing sure stood out, and pretty much every single dad mentioned it. Can you guess what it is?


Patience and Presence are Key 

Yep, fully half the dads we asked said you need to have patience! The second most popular answer was to be present. Phones down, papas! These were some of our favorite ways the dads we asked expressed the need to be patient and present...

Fatherhood is a life-long endeavor. It keeps going on, and on, and on.

Be very patient, attentive, listen to your children- especially when they are distressed and spend as much time as possible showing them how good and important they are.

Be involved and when you're involved, be present.

RELATED:  Mommy Poppins Baby and Parenting Guide

being a dad is one of the two best jobs on earth! 
Enjoy nap time! Photo by Helena Lopez, courtesy of Pexels

Be present, work with your kids' mom as a team, and make disciplinary decisions together. Let the anger from your childhood go. You can't live vicariously through your children. You can give them what you didn't have in the form of patience, understanding, time, and love but don't buy back your younger years with toys to fill a void.

Be present, talk, hug, and listen.

Prioritize your presence, you can’t always be with your kid but when you are, be with them 100%.

Just show up! You don’t have to be a super dad but they do need you there. Your presence means more to a child than you could ever imagine.

RELATED: Developmental Milestones for Babies in the First Year

dad plays guitar with baby 
Share your passions with your kids, and watch them discover their own. Photo by Ladybug Kidcare in LA

Have Fun 

Sure it's a lot of work, but being a dad is also a lot of fun.

When all else fails, make it fun. I cannot stress how often this works in the early years and even beyond. I also cannot stress how often life makes me forget to do this.

Just enjoy every second you have in life with them, your kids will cherish that forever. Do what I do: have fun with them but also be a parent!

Let kids discover, and then you can nurture their own distinct talents and personalities. It's fun to see how they're like you, but also to celebrate and encourage the skills and characteristics that differ from yours. After all there already is one of you in the world! 

Take your kid places and have fun with it. Take them to restaurants and bars. You can still have a great time with a baby in tow. You just have to pack a bunch of extra stuff.

More Great Fatherhood Advice from Our Favorite Dads

It's important to be prepared that the expected can often turn into the unexpected—and to be ready to roll with that. 

Don't be intimidated if you are the only parent, and don't listen to society and any 'kids need a Mom' crap. A kid needs a parent, one parent to love them unconditionally and you are damn well capable of doing so without a woman!

Realize you are the parent, not the babysitter.

It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to teach your kids not to cry over the little things, they can express themselves better with words.

Hold kids accountable. Follow through. If you say it, mean it.

Be the adult you needed as a child.

Be the person you want your children to be.

Treat your children with kindness and respect.

Show humility. Admit when you’re wrong and apologize. Teach them it's okay to make mistakes. (This is for moms & dads alike!)

Show love and respect to their mother, no matter what your relationship with her is!


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Daddy and me swim classes 
Dive into parenting! Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Collins, Colorado

Your kids are always changing. Be sure to enjoy your kids at every stage of their lives. Don’t miss a thing wishing for what was or what will be.

I’d say never (or almost never) put your wants/needs first. Your kid and your partner need as much of you as you can give. And the more you can give, the easier things will be for them and you. 

Love should be an action, not a thing. You should be actively producing love in your family.

Always make time for your children, time is fleeting, and you’ll miss it.

Work as a team with Mama. Meals, laundry, homework, dishes, making beds, driving kids around, diapers, toys, vacuuming, lawn, garden, vehicle repairs, groceries, etc. It takes two to make a child, it takes two to raise a child. Many hands make light of work. You will be rewarded for it…

Don't think of it as Mom and Dad, think of it as Parent and Parent. You are allowed to have as much authority as the other parent and you have a responsibility to take that authority and agency, you are partners, not boss & employee.

Remember that your kids are always watching—make good decisions!

Remember not to take it personally. They love you no matter what. Listen and please, please remain calm. Remember they want to be just like you, so pay attention to what they do, pay attention to what you say, and how you respond. Get on the floor, be funny, laugh, smile, and teach them it’s ok to cry and it’s ok to show love.

Step up and figure it out. Moms don't have a secret instruction manual (even though society expects that from them) and they're figuring it out on the fly, too. So just keep stepping up and taking an active role no matter what.

Plan now for time with your partner! Even after years in the game, this still gets lost in all the commotion of raising a family. Plan now. What are your childcare options? What do you like to do together as adults? Be prepared or you'll blink and you haven't been on a date in 6 months. 

Don’t forget to take care of your partner! Also, don’t spend too long in the bathroom.