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A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

By Alma Schneider
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Father's Day
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confused dad A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

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Transitioning from childless (and carefree) man to new dad can be a daunting journey. After honing the fine art of changing diapers, you may think that you are in the know… well think again! There’s a lot more to learn, in fact, there’s always something to learn. We can help prepare you for fatherhood. But staying on top of your game is up to you.

kid hugging mom A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

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Let’s start at the source — the child! Babies and young kids are generally more attached to mom or their primary caregiver. Let’s face it, mom or the caregiver often spends the most time with the child. So don’t take it personally if you’re not the go-to person. Unless you’re a stay-at-home dad, you will not be the one the child seeks for comfort, snuggles or bedtime stories. Again, nothing personal, just the way it is.

This reality can be tough for dads who already may be a bit insecure about their new role. So it’s important for him to have alone time with the child, for a little father/child bonding.

Read stories of dad’s special day.

dad cooking A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

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Let’s move to the kitchen, where men are often more comfortable eating than cooking. Every dad should know how to make at least a few healthy meals for the kids. Gone is the era when dads could expect a hot dinner waiting for the family every night when he arrived at home. And with all the focus on nutrition and its effects on health, merely cooking is not enough. Dads need to know how to make healthy meals and snacks. Even if you ordered in breakfast, lunch and dinner for the last decade, it’s time to put on an apron and break out the frying pan.

These meals don’t need to be sophisticated but they do need to be balanced and nutritious. To clarify, no bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese, unless it is organic and homemade and accompanied by steamed broccoli and a glass of milk (or almond milk). Some suggestions for quick, healthy meals: baked chicken cutlets breaded with panko; simmered turkey meatballs; chicken quesadillas made with whole wheat tortillas; and vegetable omelets. Bon appetit!

portable crib A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

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The next stop is the bedroom, rather the bed away from the room. It is imperative for dads to know how to assemble and dismantle a portable crib for that occasional trip. No one will care about your problems setting up the Pack ‘n Play, least of all the crying baby who just wants to sleep after a long car ride to grandma’s. Packing it up is just as important. Because unless you can get it back in that carrying case, it may not fit in the trunk with all those suitcases and baby gifts. Practice ahead of time if you must, because the process isn’t always obvious.

Find a Father’s Day gift.

Long trips don’t happen every day, but short trips do. Dad should know how open and collapse a stroller. When your family is on the move, there is no bigger embarrassment or waste of time than struggling with a stroller in front of a subway entrance or opened car trunk. The thing will flatten for easy transport, but it won’t seem that way if you haven’t done it before. And rushing or forcing it only makes things worse.

dad playing with kids A Few Things Every Dad Should Know

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Lastly and perhaps most importantly, dads must know that Father’s Day will rarely be as important as Mother’s day. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. You may feel you need a break. You may want to play golf or go party with friends. But these things probably aren’t on the agenda. Unless you are the primary caregiver — and the one who requires (and deserves) some downtime — you will probably spend Father’s Day playing with the kids. After all, isn’t appreciating your children what this special day is about? Happy Father’s Day!

Check out the Father’s Day section at CBS Local.

Alma Schneider is a licensed Clinical Social Worker helping individuals overcome their psychological and practical obstacles to cooking and parenting on her blog and consulting business, Take Back the Kitchen. She is a native New Yorker transplanted to the suburbs with her husband, four children and loving yet stubborn Beagle Shiloh.

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