Dad

A Dad's Guide to Partner Influence

One very important concept that exists for relationships is simply called Partner Influence.  Dad’s who have a respectful and softer approach to be able to consciously and purposefully accept the influence of their partners are statistically happier than rigid fathers are (Gottman, 2015).

Sidenote.  Don’t think for a second that I am suggesting that dads should be the only ones to accept influence from their partner.  I am merely suggesting they start things off with their partner. Lead by example. Lead by action. This can be a new dynamic found in your relationship if you let it be.  

Defining Partner Influence

This concept means many things. It is setting your marriage up for a win-win rather than a win-lose (Pincus, 2017). This is possible but it takes some work to get there.  

Partner influence suggests you put your partner’s needs at a high level of importance in your life. You may feel this you are doing this already but we’re not talking about how you feel your level of success is, we’re talking about what your partner feels your level of success is which is a very different measure.  It is your job to check-in on your current defined level of success.

So often I see married couples who aren’t doing this.  Why? Because society doesn’t place an emphasis on its importance and American’s often are drowning in a world of busyness and stress.  

Don’t be offended if your partner doesn’t consider you up to the level you think you should be.  This isn’t a time to be successful. This is a time to learn and be accept influence from your partner. Here’s another thing about society.  These days, it isn’t easy to be a great partner with work and careers in the mix. Kids definitely don’t make it easy! There is so much working against you.

Regardless of what is going on for us personally, it doesn’t give us an excuse to give our family members the shaft.  Partner influence is one way to be mindful of our current behaviors and remain stable when there are personal life stressors present.  

Why Be Influenced

Statistics tell us much about the importance of partner influence.  Did you know that wives are a ton more likely to already engage in being influenced by their partner than men (Gottman, 2015)?  That’s why it is important that husbands are taught to engage in this practice too. Remember, we’re shooting for a win-win in the relationship.  

Also, marriages that incorporate partner influence into their creation are statistically proven to be happier marriages overall (Gottman, 2015).  This is the goal. To be happy with having your partner as a partner. Also, to be a partner in your marriage rather than a “force to be reckoned with” which is often a position couples take when turbulent issues arise.

I share this with you as a path towards tranquility in your married life. This is not the biggest challenge in a marriage but it is one to produce quick and positive results if you correctly implement it.  If you need any help getting there, read the 7 Principles for Making a Marriage Work. As always, I am here to help too. 612-207-9953 or ryan.plasch@discoverymentalhealth.com

References:

https://www.gottman.com/blog/husband-can-influential-accept-influence/  

The 7 Principles for Making a Marriage Work - John Gottman



Creativity: Lifehacks for Dads #5

Creativity is a central part of making things work in your family. This can be hard to do at first but it will develop over time as you get to know your family better. This involves tapping into who you are and what you envision for them.

You use your creativity for many of life’s activities. It’s time to commit to using it for strengthening your connection to your family. Creativity consists of purposeful, intelligent decisions made by you to increase your children’s enjoyment in your family.

Developing Creativity

You may already see yourself as an expert in being creative. I meet many who have to be creative in their job whether its sales, getting clients, or management. The thing we don’t realize is that we have to use some of that superpower from work with our children at home and it may be uncomfortable to do so right away.

This is a skill. Skills take time to learn if you don’t already have them. Though you might be pumped and excited to try something and this is telling you to go do it. For most though, there may be no ideas.

You have the ability to be Picasso at home but you may look to your partner to be the one creating events. I want to tell you a little secret. They’re tired of doing this all the time. They need you to step-it-up and have ideas too. It’s important you take an active role in your active family’s activities.

Benefits

Your creativity is contagious and your children will learn how to be creative too. Your family will love you for it. This will bring you closer to your value system. This will improve morale in your family and will lead to their enjoyment in life and your enjoyment in life. Get cracking on creative ways to spend time with your family.

Encouragement: Lifehacks for Dads #3

How were you raised? Did you have loving parents who encouraged you to be the person you are today? This comes easier for those who answer yes to the question but it is very possible for every dad out there to be encouraging.

I almost missed out on this myself. I taught myself not to use the phrase “I’m proud of you” because of how condescending it sounds. I eradicated it from my speech, really. Then I came to the epiphany that it’s different with your own kids. How could I not have thought of that sooner? I frequently tell my daughters that I am proud of them now.

How to Encourage

Encouragement is recognizing the accomplishments of your child and expressing to them that they are amazing. It’s explaining to them that they can become anything they want to become, and challenge them to do their best while being respectful and patient.

What does your kid want to hear when they accomplish something? Kids tend to come to you with something they did right or something they’re excited about. It is your job to lift them up with words of praise at these times.

Join in on their joy. The challenge sometimes is recognizing when these times present. You might hear about activities from your child, mom, a sibling, or an educator. It is up to you to analyze the information and come to the conclusion on how to encourage your child.

Young Ones

The answer is yes that newborns, infants, babies, and toddlers need encouragement. Communication is very different at this age and consists of nonverbal communication, the tone you use when talking to your child, and the frequency and consistency that you “believe in them” or encourage them.

It is very important, no matter what age, that you encourage your children and do so in a variety of ways. This is one of the ways you are going to build your child up. This is what they need from dad!

Benefits

There are many benefits to encouraging your children when they have an accomplishment. You will feel closer to them and they will feel closer to you.

Their self-esteem will increase at that moment. They will come to you for more emotional support. Both your children and family will be stronger throughout if you consistently encourage them.

Presence: Lifehacks for Dads #1

Presence is key to establishing a solid relationship with your family. What do I mean by presence? I can tell you it isn’t being in the room on your phone while your kids play with Magna-Tiles. It is an effort on your part to be in the present moment with them.

Easy way to the Present-Moment

I want you to think about your breathing. Close your eyes after you read this. You will need to clear your thoughts which is very difficult to do given we are always in the past or thinking about our future. When you breathe in, I want you to say “In” slowly. Hold your breath and count to 7 seconds. Then breathe out while saying “Out” throughout the entire breath. Take a minute to do this 5 times.

This is tapping into the present moment where your kids spend much of their time. I get so jealous about the fact that my daughter believes getting a new tube of toothpaste equals “the best day ever.” I’m sure it did feel that way to her at the moment. It was a genuine smile.

Daddy Time

Your kids want you. They want to play some weird game or watch a far out there movie. There needs to be a balance in the ideas, such as some come from them and some come from you, but it is always a good idea to be the one to recommend an idea. You can easily find out what they like to play by asking them.

Maybe play isn’t your thing after work. You can still be present with them for a time. You can read a book to them, you can cuddle them, you can chat with them but usually, that doesn’t work. You’ll have to shake the adulting part of talking and your chat will involve touch or focusing on something they love (stuffed animal or toy). You’ll likely have something funny or silly sprinkled in there. Maybe this is time to get them thinking about one of your values you can teach them.

Benefits

I’ve mentioned before that there is much crossover between the attributes. The benefits of being present with your children are many. It shows them that you love and care for them, they will change their behavior around you and want to connect more, you will be able to see their comfort level increase with you, and you will feel close with them and that you belong in your family. Also, being present has multiple benefits for your health too. Science tells us that it makes us happier.

It is crucial to be present with your family. Begin by committing to 20 minutes a day spent with your kids without interruption from your phone or something you are going to do on your own. It will heavily increase your impact on their lives. Reach out to me for ideas on how to pull this off. There will be a class offered on the Lifehacks for dads soon.

Rock-It!: Step 4 of the Launchpad Dad’s Problem-Solving Strategy

 
 

The last R is arguably the most important R to problem-solving.  “Rock-It!” Where would Launchpad Dad’s (LpD) be without a rock-it! for its launchpad?

How do you “rock” something?  By taking action in the face of adversity.  By doing something new and different to change the situation.  By using the information acquired from the first 3 steps to inform your next tactic in your strategy.  

Rock-It!

It’s time to fire up the engines and launch your way to success.  Going back to the example of being a bad dad, how do you fix this?  

You read online that you are distant from your family because you are too focused on your job.  Even your wife commented that she feels second to your job when you asked her. During your reflection, you had wondered “Am I too focused on work?” and started to worry. This means that in order to Rock-It! you will need to quit your job….!

No! That’s a pretty darn silly solution and it won’t fix the problem. The action you will need to take is within you.

Action is many things.  It’s a movement towards your goal, it’s an insight that helps change your perspective, it is an out loud, engine roaring, declaration that you will fix your problem, and it’s a commitment to change.  

I will not lie.  Follow-through and taking action are both difficult pieces of the puzzle to complete. This is where a lot of the planning phase crumbles.

Sometimes it’s confusion. Sometimes it’s procrastination. If you’re me, it’s the point you become overwhelmed and you feel like your frozen in space because a meteor came and smashed the living crap-ola out of your Rock-It! Ship. Fear not. There are emergency maneuvers that come from within to avoid this.

Remember that it is never to late to apply change to your family life. They will welcome it if you’ve been floating in space too long.

Tips

Create a 14 day commitment to the action that you think will help. Do it daily and have it be somewhat experimental. You will know if it there is a change relatively quickly.

Call me.

Email me and I’ll help (a little self promotion doesn’t hurt, right? Oh yes, most importantly, I will produce results).

Take the emotions out of the results. Fear stops us from greatness. Think about this from a business perspective. Do emotions serve you well in business decisions. Not likely. Just do it. Be fearless.

Know that changes to your behavior are welcomed by your family though they may be caught off guard to the change. Talking about your goals out loud is going to take you far with the wife and older kids.

I call it Rock-It! for a reason. Action is overcharged, loud, and makes a lasting impression in your world. Conquer your at home goals much like you do in your career goals. Good luck and reach out for crap sakes! You’re not alone in your struggles.

Research: Step 3 of Launchpad Dad's Problem-Solving Strategy

 
 

Now that you have put work into identifying the issue at hand and have taken adequate time to reflect on it, it’s time to do the third R. “Research.”  I think we all know what the word research means but Launchpad Dads (LpD) has its own twist to it.

Keep in mind we are not looking for strictly empirical data here (although it can be helpful).  We are looking for self-report data from ourselves and the ones we care about the most.

Research

Research is seeking out answers to your questions that are outside of yourself.  So often we get stuck on a problem even after we have reflected on it. It’s time to do what may feel a little uncomfortable but is entirely necessary.  We need to talk to those involved in our life. There is some risk to this and that is why you must carefully word your problems to them.

Let's say you are struggling with being a bad dad and you took the time to identify this and put effort into getting to the deeper meaning behind this problem.  Research wants you to bring this up to your wife but in a different way. You should word your insecurity or problem like this: “I’m feeling down and feeling like a bad father. What are some things the kids need from me?”  See how they respond.

Also, research may find you going to your local library for a book on fatherhood. Or not, because libraries don’t exist anymore so you might use a computer instead.  You can ask google if you are a bad dad but it will be more worth your time to ask “how can I improve as a dad?” The internet is full of ideas.

You get extra credit if you read an entire book on the topic.  The Kindle app is actually very intuitive now and is available on smartphones and PCs.  I used to hate the Kindle app but they did an excellent job polishing it over the years.

Outcomes of Research

The end result of researching is that you will be knowledgeable and have ideas of things you want to do or try out to relieve the identified problem at hand.   

The biggest takeaway is that there are many ways to research problems.  You should incorporate a combination of these methods into your process which involves talking and reading helpful sources.

If your identified problem as a dad is pretty severe please consult me.  I’m happy to email or take a phone call.

The next step is Rock-It!

Reflect: Step 2 of Launchpad Dads Problem-Solving Strategy

 
 

The second R of Launchpad Dads problem-solving strategy is “Reflect.”  Calling all dads. It is time to reflect on what the hell is going on now that we’ve put a name to it. There are many ways to reflect on something and if you're skillful at it, by all means, get to it! Like now.  

Reflect

Reflection is the process of setting time aside to actually think about what hydra you are up against and how this became an issue in your life. When did it start?  Why did it start? How are you contributing to this problem? What are you going to do to resolve this issue?

Dads! We are natural problem solvers. I am asking that you put that solution-focused brain to work and come up with a strategy. This is you taking an active role in the outcome to an issue you are up against.  

Tips for Reflection

The first tip is to become present as you begin Reflection.  The easiest way to life hack to the present moment is by sitting still in a chair and deep breathing.  When breathing in say “IN” throughout the entire inhale. Next, hold your breath and count to 7 in your head. After, say “OUT” during the entire exhale. Repeat this for 5 breaths.  You will then be ready for Reflection.

Feeling overwhelmed by life stress where you don’t even know how you can focus on Reflection? Grab a piece of paper and write a list of all of those stressors. Tell yourself that you will get back to these after 10 minutes of reflection and give yourself permission to work on that festering, nagging problem.  

Trust yourself.  You are a capable dad.  You are where you are and it's okay.  It does not indicate your future. You are not a static human being but you are dynamic.  Change is possible. I have seen it in many of the people who have come to see me. Have faith in a better outcome.

The next R of the 4 Rs is Research.  


Recognize: Step 1 of Lauchpad Dads Problem-Solving Strategy

 
 

LpD has a very specific method of solving problems as a dad.  The 4 R’s! They are Recognize, Reflect, Research, and “Rock-it.”

Each step will be explained so that you get the full idea behind this problem-solving method. It is important to drop your definition of the 4 R’s and focus on the LpD version of them.

Recognize

Basic but useful.  Recognize begins with you formulating ideas of what your problem may be.  A good question to ask is, “I feel down because?” “I am anxious due to?” and so forth.  Chances are you know what the issue you are dealing with is. Though, not always.

So often we are on autopilot: Point A, to Point B, to Point C, and then sleep. Right?  Psychological distress comes from the avoidance of the problem or buying into what this wonderful society tells .  It’s often exhausting the number of messages we get from society regarding our interpersonal and intrapersonal distress. It’s usually a load of bull too.  

You have to know what you are up against if you are going to work on it.  So what you want to do here is name your problem. “I am depressed.” “I am hopeless.” or “I am a confused mess.”  Slow down and examine the possible names of the problem you are having.

“I’m mad at my wife” may actually be “I’m mad at everybody” but you continue down the path that it’s your wife. If so, then:

  1. This is going to cause unnecessary marital issues.

  2. This problem is bigger than her and extends to multiple people in your life.  

I’m telling you.  It is important to give thought to naming your problem rather than burying your problem.  They fester in their grave. Slow down, take yourself off autopilot and think about what this key problem is.

The second step on this journey is to reflect.


Overcome Loneliness During Dadhood

It is hard to be super dad and still keep your buds in the loop. This is one of the most common things brought to my attention when I meet with new dads. Why is this?

I’ve talked before about Daddy Brain. In the same way your brain is going through an evolution, so are your relationships with your friends. Maybe you’ve noticed it in the friends you have who became dads before you. Things change and it’s okay.

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What is not okay is when the people you care about fall off the face of the planet and you are left wondering does anyone outside my family care about me anymore? This happens often and you will need to be on the lookout for it so the realization doesn’t blindside you.

A valuable point I want to get across has to do with recent research into loneliness. Scientists found that the quality of relationships that you have is far superior to your mental health than the number of relationships you have.

Different Kinds Of Loneliness – Having Poor Quality Relationships Is Associated With Greater Distress Than Having Too Few

The findings from the research also support what other research has found to be true about relationships. “As the researchers conclude: ‘From a societal perspective, and in the interests of reducing the burden of psychological distress, efforts should be made to enhance the quality of social connections as opposed to promoting the virtues of larger social networks.'”

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To Dadify these results I want you to think about who you were incredibly close with before becoming a father. Then think about the last time you reached out to that friend who may be a single guy or gal with no kids. It is time to connect with whoever popped into your mind just now.

Quality relationships benefit you more than quantity. This is important in fatherhood because you wont have time to keep up with every single person you want to. Choose wisely those who will bring you positive, resounding vibes in this beautiful, fatherly life of yours!

An additional point is that there are ways to connect with other gents who have sons or daughters. It takes some effort but dads are a very lonely group of men at times because their relationships tend to float away after they have kids. I have made it my mission to reach out to those who have the desire to be a better father and overall human being.

Please feel free to reach out to me and we can figure out a way for things to improve in your life. I recommend beginning by liking Launchpad Dads page on Facebook! My email is Ryan@marriagegeek.com

The Good, The Bad, and The Dad: Pressures from Dadhood

Dad’s have it so easy. Actually they don’t. Dad pressures seep in relatively quickly once the big status change hits home. What are these pressures? Well, that’s not easily summed up in a post. But I would like to review 2 of them to get the ball rolling and get you thinking on how to improve.

Pressure 1: 2 Full Time Jobs

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I commonly hear about the work pressure issues that occur. I hear dads everywhere make the mistake, including this dad writing this blog at one point, “Well honey, I’ve got to go make the money. Good luck with the house.” “If someone doesn’t make the money, Who’s going to?” Or if its a dual income home, “Well I’m dad, not mom. They want mom.”

Bubble burst right here. While your thinking process makes some sense. It still isn’t fair. Imagine going to work and never leaving. Imagine having a bed at where you work that you would sleep in and get out to start work in the morning. Or, for dual income houses, imagine going to work in the morning and then going to work at another job. 1 job is 5 days a week and the other job is 7 days a week.

THE GOOD

Parenting is like another job but its very different one. And just because it is compared to another job doesn’t mean it is horrible or it is a job you don’t like! I use this comparison to easily explain how it is seen in the eyes of your spouse. This then signifies why being a present father is so important. Many dads are proud of their family. It is important the family is shown this through action not word. Well word too, but mostly action

That right there is the pressure! How do you manage your workload and still be a present father in your family? That’s loaded but I have faith in you to ponder this and think about ways to improve. If you get stuck. Shoot me an email at ryan@marriagegeek.com.

Pressure 2: Where’s the Sex?

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Sex gets complicated after child #1 pops out. What a bummer BUT! not all hope is lost. I assure you, it isn’t. I also want to point out the fact that you’re not just craving sex so stop thinking that way. Its more complex than that.

Sex is definitely part of it but when children are in the mix of your love life, it will likely decrease for awhile. Lets look at why first. Chances are Mom is stressed, Mom is fed-up, Mom is touched-out, Mom has had it, Mom wants everyone to leave her alone, Mom is tired. Also, breastfeeding has been associated with lower sex drive with women. Thanks a lot breastfeeding (its beneficial though).

I’m here to tell you that adjustment time is needed and intimacy is what you are craving more than sex. Its just we are flooded with sexuality from the media, our guy friends talk about it, and it is constantly on a dad’s mind. But you miss your wife and sex is harder to come by for an insurmountable amount of reasons like how long it takes to put the kid to bed. *Siren Blows* You’ve been blocked. Good night.

THE GOOD

Most men go into nagging mode or they go into withdraw mode and don’t talk about their feelings. Both are wrong. You want intimacy and/or sex from your wife? You’re going to need to understand what’s going on. And how do you understand it? By being a present father and husband in your family. Being emotionally available, being patient, and again talking talking talking. Its okay to have your feelings. That being said, your actions are what counts!

Don’t Nag, Don’t withdraw, fight the urge and seek connection. Be helpful and play peek a boo with your kid. Makes sense or starting to make sense? Good. Need help with this? Then reach out. I’m happy to talk.

Dad enthusiast, Dad therapist Ryan Plasch wants to be your everything dad related handbook. Contact him at ryan@marriagegeek.com

Late Bloomer: Fatherhood Lessons from the film The Mule

I recently saw the film The Mule. Very good movie but what stuck out to me the most was its theme on fatherhood. The Mule follows a 90 year old, horticulturist who’as business is foreclosed on and so he begins a very profitable journey running drugs for the Cartel.

Earl is completely alone at the beginning. His granddaughter is the only member of his family that will talk to him. This was his in. His way back to his family’s good graces where they slowly began talking to him after he made the effort to connect.

What was Earl’s problem? He was a disconnected father who abandoned his family to work on his public image and the flowers he loved more than his own life.

Late Bloomer

This struggle is a human struggle and a relevant struggle for our day and age. Our society values financial growth instead of personal growth. It sends the message that its better to be soulless than poor. Please, lets fight this message together.

Fathers! it is easy to lose sight of your family because of the need to build financial wealth but take it from Earl. It isn’t worth it. You may be reading this and think “Well duh, I love my family.” I want to make the point that just loving them isn’t enough. A dad loving his family and being present is what it takes for a family to make it through. Providing too but being fully present when you are with them is key.

Don’t be a late bloomer!

A late bloomer consists of a father with the potential to be a great dad but isn’t. Instead, they wait until its too late to reconcile before putting in the effort. Even then, there’s no guarantee they will be given the chance to bloom.

It’s your life. Take control. if things are strained now, talk about it with a professional or friend or read about how you can make a difference in your own journey of being dad.

The Love of My Life and the Pain of My Life

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At one point in the movie, Earl is having an intimate conversation with his ex-wife. She is forgiving him for not being there for years during their marriage since he is here now in her time of need. Her quote “You are the love of my life and the pain of my life.”

A goal for a family is to be flexible with one another and to teach and to learn from each person. Also, the love should be shared and plentiful. We are to teach our kids valuable life skills so that they can flourish out in the world without the need for us in their daily life.

There is no time to be the pain in your family’s life. It ruins its structure and even when it feels like it is impossible to change, it isn’t. I’m here to tell you there’s another way to be.

It’s up to you to avoid being the pain and turmoil in your family’s life if you find yourself in this position now. Take a moment to honestly reflect how your family feels about you. If there are concerns now know that they wont dissipate without you intervening.

If you would like to find a new way, I’m here to help. Email me if I could be a resource to you. My info is below.

Dad Enthusiast, Dad Therapist Ryan Plasch would love to be of service to you.  He can be contacted at ryan@marriagegeek.com or by clicking here.

Developing Daddy-Sense

Daddy-Sense is a real thing you develop after becoming Dad. Unfortunately, there is no radioactive dad out there to bite you so that you gain amazing senses and have a well rounded dad bod the next morning. You’re kind of stuck developing Daddy-Sense in a realistic way. You know. Day after day of getting it wrong until its right and then until its not right anymore…

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The Importance of Daddy-Sense

Daddy-Sense is important. It shows you are capable of being the father you want to be. Plus, you’ll need to relieve your partner and do your share of bringing up that wonderful, joyous child.

Daddy-Sense senses when people in your household are in need. It is about controlling that anger you get when you hear crying and being productive about helping the problem. Its showing patience in the face of “I can’t stand what your doing right now” or “why are you telling me this right now?”

Daddy-Sense helps you apologize to your family when Daddy-Sense doesn’t kick in right away when it probably should of. Daddy-Sense is part of the love you express to your family. It will tell you when to sacrifice your much needed alone time to be there for the kids and your partner. Or maybe it will tell you to not go out with the friends when something big comes up even though it was planned a week ahead of time. Don’t worry Daddy-Sense will help you deal with the frustration too.

Daddy-Sense lies in your gut reactions, your instincts and it works best if you are taking care of yourself.

How to Life Hack Daddy-Sense

Good News! There are tips out there to develop Daddy-Sense faster. If you’re fresh meat for the grinder, see how you can incorporate some of these. If you’re a dad looking to be a better dad you should check to see if you can add these to your base skills.

  1. Typically your partner knows a ton of things already. Pay attention to how they interact with your kid or kids. If appropriate, copy their maddening ways. I have a zillion examples of what I took from my wife. How she says “we need to be safe when we’re eating,” instead of my method of saying “Sit Down in your chair, You’re going to fall!” possibly making them fall from startling them. Your partner is creative. Copy their creative/appropriate ways.

  2. Write out or give serious thought to the type of father you want to be. This is going to help you develop your tingling senses when something that is happening goes against your Dad Value System or DVS. What do you want to teach your kids about in this often terrifying, disappointing, and beautiful world we all live in together?

  3. Take your child out and spend one to one time with them, baby or toddler. You won’t know them as well if you don’t take time to do fun things with them. Usually its what they like doing which can be draining or soul sucking depending if its playing chase all afternoon on a playground or watching My Little Pony: The Movie. Oh and plan stuff if you want to avoid horrendous films.

  4. Apologize. This was mentioned earlier. Daddy-Sense helps you apologize for when Daddy-Sense did not go off early enough and everything exploded in your face. Pull the shrapnel out and say you’re sorry to those little ones. AND YOUR PARTNER TOO. THEY’RE WATCHING YOU OR YOUR KID WILL TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED IF YOU DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT FIRST.

  5. Finally, at least for this post, Meet dads! Please do this. Your Daddy-Sense will grow when you meet some good fathers out there. I always hear, “Oh, I haven’t thought about that.” We’re in this together and there is a GIANT isolation problem out there. So many changes have just happened. Meet with other dads. 

Do not hesitate to reach out to me ever! I mean that (unless its midnight, I need my sleep. Every dad needs sleep). If you want more tips and to be added to my email list, write to me at Ryan@marriagegeek.com or comment below.

Daddy Brain: Life Changes for Fathers

Being a father is a wonderful thing. Its special. You get to watch little beings grow from small to big all while they soak up everything that is you. For instance, if you loved certain cartoons, such as the classic The Land Before Time, chances are… they will love it too. And then ask you to watch it when you just want alone time but they say it so cutely you cave in. Then you can only find #14 in the series on Netflix which is your first time seeing it too because you’re old now. Anyway, in summary, being a father is a smashing good time. But you can be kept from enjoying it.

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I want to raise awareness to the fact that having kids and becoming a dad changes things which most people already know. What isn’t well known is what the hell are those changes everyone is talking about?!

Change 1: Your relationship with your beloved changes

You can be dad of the year but your relationship will still change with your wife. There’s less time for each other which equals more time to drift away. That’s hard. You love that person but so often is the case that there is some dreary distance simmering in between. I’m not saying anything like its hopeless but be aware. Assess! If there are problems after kids don’t take the mindset that they will go away on their own. It will be harder to reconnect when that itsy teeny baby becomes the mighty window smashing destroyer that is a toddler and is more independent.

Change 2: Your friendships go through a transition

Friends are cool. You need them. Don’t ever think you don’t. However, many dads feel lonely after becoming one. Friends without kids are still fun but they’re going to have so much more energy than you are. Plus they have more time. Not fair but it is. There’s a lot of joy to be had with the kiddos you are raising.

Friends are important. Work on maintaining a balance between those outside of the family and your family. Friendships can drift away. If they’re important to you and THEY SUPPORT YOUR NEW LIFESTYLE (ahem, very important) have open conversations with the wife and older kids that you need some time away but that you are also planning to do something with the family the next day or the next week. Also, get out there and meet some dads, okay? They know things that you don’t and they are often in the same lonely drifting boat.

Change 3:  Daddy Brain

Think about this from a science fiction perspective. Did you see The Matrix? Did Neo start out as The One? No, he did not. He was a clueless drone. Its hard to know these things. I often explain to dads that their mind and personality are going through an evolution. And oh my gosh are their growing pains with this!!! First, have faith in yourself that you will make it through. Second, watch yourself. Big transitions are worth it but we don’t all end up okay through them. If you are not okay. Be responsible! Talk to somebody. Yes, men do talk. I am living proof of that.

Daddy brain is great. You will learn to effectively play video games while your newborn sleeps on you in a baby carrier. You will say yes to pets you don’t want to have and be okay with it. Your temper will lower given time (which you’ll have to work at) after daddy brain sets in and tells you that a 5 year old cannot multitask. And daddy brain will reason that once something enters your child’s mind, the important thing they were doing (like getting dressed because you have to go work)… leaves their brain. I’m frustrated just thinking about it. I’m probably tired. Go figure. Your mind goes through rapid changes when you become a dad. Embrace them and assess!

Important Caveat: Postpartum Depression

1 in 10 men will meet criteria for postpartum depression (Flyer from Postpartum Support Minnesota). That’s a lot! So many go without ever being diagnosed. Mental illness is not a weakness and there is treatment. Please watch for it in your spouse and watch for it in yourself. Reach out if you feel strange months into being a dad. I’ll tell you what! Call me, during business hours please, to consult. Let me be a resource to you. www.marriagegeek.com/ryan

There are more changes than this but these are the ones you should start reflecting on. Fatherhood is great and enjoyable. If something feels wrong do the manly thing and talk.




Surviving Parenthood: The Importance of Self Care

I have just reached six years of being a father. I have 2 wonderful daughters who I dearly love.  It has been a chaotic and beautiful journey and an endless teacher of life.  I wanted to take a moment to explore the importance of consciously, and I mean “in your face” consciously, caring for yourself.

Woohoo, Parenthood is Awesome

Being a parent is truly a gift.  But problems come when you lose control of your role in the family or in your life.  This takes the form of parent burnout, work burnout, ugly and longstanding disagreements with your beloved, when you feel the kids don’t ever listen and your stressed about it, and a whole host of other troubles you just want to be over.

I’ve been there and likely will be there again next week.  This culture of ours doesn’t make it easy to be a wonderful parent and it is our responsibility to work through this and be one despite the challenge. That’s where parent self care comes into the fold.

Self care isn’t always easy

Do not fool yourself into believing self care is this glamorous concept all of the time.  It isn’t.  Like other “fun” areas of life, we have to work at it.  Ask yourself these questions

  1.   What is my personal definition of self care and what are the activities I enjoy doing?

  2.   Am I currently connected with the activities that help me?

  3.   What can I do for myself right now or the next day?

  4.   What needs to be sacrificed for the greater good of my mental health?

I have to be honest here.  I fail pretty hard at self care and I cringe when I ask these questions to myself.  This, in turn, leads to me letting down my loved ones at times.  The important thing to remember is circling back to self care.  There are going to be days when nothing goes right and that’s when these important questions come to the fore.  Here’s an example of how I would answer them.

  1.  Self care is a process of doing activities for myself that helps to relive my often abundant level of stress.  For me this includes going for walks, reading memoirs or fiction, meditating, studying therapy, and other forms of various media such as shows, movies, games.  Also, sleep. Although, I am often a night owl and I enjoy the house when its quiet.

  2. I am not currently doing many of the activities listed above.  Especially sleep.  I have been missing out on a ton of it unfortunately and its my own fault.  Just being honest with myself.  I have been watching shows alone but this tends to keep me up later and awake longer when trying to fall asleep.  I really miss reading. I just feel so distracted and busy.

  3. Sleep.  I need to go bed at a decent time.  Also, instead of going on social media at night, I need to catch up with my newest book from Yalom.  I think I need to spend the next week prioritizing and early bed time and reading at night. Also, I should try to meditate just before bed. Regardless, I need sleep tonight, I need to read my book tonight, and I need to meditate.

  4.  My sacrifices to accomplish this self-care plan are many.  I am a night owl and do my best thinking at night.  Plus it’s my only alone time after working until 5p or 5:30p, spending time with the girls until about 8p, and watching shows with my wife until 9p.  I will have less alone time that I need to unwind.  However, I will have some alone time.

You get the drift.  The 4th question on sacrifice helps you to be conscious of what your self care plan will interfere with so you are not blind-sighted by it and can plan accordingly.  For me, I may want to ask my wife for us to do our own thing at 8p instead of spending time together for a night.  Another idea is I could ask for an hour after work to relax while giving her an hour, after or before, to balance it out before the girls go to sleep.

Is that all…?

Planning out self care can be a stressful task but following through with the plan is where rewards are gained  Also, it is important to put it out there that certain circumstances will happen in life making self care extremely difficult to come by.  These occur typically when major life transitions happen such as the birth of a child, a new job, the loss of a loved one, or crippling medical or mental health symptoms.  The important thing to remember is not to feel guilty about not taking adequate care of yourself but to COME BACK to self care.  It will always be calling your name so listen for it.