What really changes when you become a parent? Everything does, instantly. So says Peter Howarth, former editor of Esquire and Arena magazines and father of three sons. When you’re about to become a father for the first time, other men who’ve already blazed that trail are keen to share their experiences. You get those who tell you it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them, and those who talk knowledgeably of sleep patterns and bottle-feeding. And then there are those who give you that knowing look – a peculiar expression somewhere between smug resignation and pity – which seems to say “Woah, mate, you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.”I was subjected to all this, but in retrospect only one person hit the nail on the head. A colleague said he’d been told the truth about fatherhood and he was now going to impart this profound piece of wisdom to me, like the handing on of a flaming torch. “It changes everything. Instantly,” he said simply. Everything changes. At the time I thought, “Yes, and…?”

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But I soon came to realise that he was right. Nothing anyone can say to you can really explain what happens when you become a dad – it is such an extraordinary event, truly life-changing, that it is impossible to conceive in advance how it will affect you. That’s why, like a boy scout, the best thing is to be prepared. Now that doesn’t mean just decorating the baby’s room and buying loads of stuff, it means opening your mind to the fact that life will inevitably move to a different rhythm and you will have to go with it.

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You will also, for the first time in your existence, become truly responsible for another person: and this is for life. As your kid grows up, your relationship with him or her will evolve, but essentially you will always be a parent, and the parent-child thing is for good (wonder why your folks still treat you like a kid? Well now you know: it’s their job). Some men find this responsibility easier than others; some embrace their new role and the changes it brings to their routine, while others struggle with it.

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But for most of us, in the end, something clicks and we go from being blokes to dads. I found this transformation exciting and it seemed like the next logical step in my life. I felt I’d done my share of pubs and clubs and was ready for something more grown up. Of course, in the event, becoming a dad helps the process of growing up because you are forced to acknowledge that in the eyes of this small being, you are in charge. So, though you may still indulge your interests in film, music,sport,clothes and cars, the fact remains that, as far as your kids are concerned, you are not a mate: you are forever on the other side. I realised this recently when I was having a conversation with my eldest in the car. He’s eleven now, has long hair and plays electric guitar.

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Apart from the hair, I like to think he’s a bit of a chip off the old block, and on this particular day I was asking him whether I could play bass in his band. He declined the offer. When I asked why, he said, “Because you’re a dad.” Daddy cool? “Can dad’s ever be cool?” I enquired. You can guess the answer. “Could they have been cool when they were younger?” I asked, trying a different tack. But the response was the same. It seems that once you have kids you move into a different category, and there’s no way back. The only thing to do is to accept it, deal with it, and embrace your new status as terminally un-cool old bloke in the knowledge that your young ones wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to the modern day equivalent of pipes and slippers, whatever that may be – organic food and trainers ?


Source: Dad.info