Becoming a father is amazing and exciting. But it's also incredibly daunting. As much as a man looks forward to welcoming a baby into the family and teaching them all the things that he loves like riding a bike and playing catch, many men feel an extra load of responsibility, both to the baby and the baby's mother.
In preparing for the baby, it's easy to start thinking about what mom wants to do for him and for her family. And many men spend time talking to the baby bump, whispering sweet nothings and making promises about what things will be like when the baby is born. But only half of those promises will ever be kept.
Some men go overboard and ambitious, they promise to get a better job and provide all the basics but also the big house and all the toys that the baby will ever want. Many will take care of column A, but it's unrealistic and over the top to expect column B. From the promises to his spouse to the heartfelt but misguided vows to his unborn child, some things aren't going to happen, but many dads fulfill their vows when it really counts.
Here are 10 promises most dads keep after the baby arrives and 10 that are usually broken.
20 Broken: Fatherhood Won't Change Me
Many men think that becoming a dad is great, but it's just another aspect of their life. They don't think it will change their day-to-day life much, other than hopefully having a little buddy to play catch with on the weekends. They think their life at work will be the same, and they will still have date nights and nights out with the boys, although they might have to worry about a sitter more.
Nope, it's just not true. No matter how many times they promise their friends that fatherhood won't change them, they are in for a big wake up call.
And we aren't talking about the ways that having a child disrupts a schedule either — fatherhood will change a person's very being. It's not just about wearing another hat, although many times a man will think that he has to juggle multiple roles in his life. This hat is more permanent. He has taken on the very daunting, very rewarding mantle of being a father, and that will become a core part of who he is. A father has to weigh every decision differently, and while he may have thought of his wife at the office, knowing that there is a child depending on him is a very different level. Fatherhood will definitely change a man, but luckily most of the time it's for the better.
19 Kept: I'll Be A Better Man For My Family
There aren't a lot of men who will take a vow to better themselves when their baby is on the way. It's a daunting idea that many don't like to think about, especially if their life has been going pretty well already. But there are a lot of men who realize that they are not just responsible for the course of their own life but for the life of their child. They make vows to make sure that path is solid, and while there are different forms that this promise can take, the men who choose to make that usually follow through as much as they can.
They might decide to go back to school so that they can get a better career, or they vow to make their way up the corporate ladder so they have more financial stability. Some men vow to take on side jobs to pay for the diapers and the other baby needs, or they decide to go through counseling so that they can act as a better parent or spouse.
These are usually promises that aren't made lightly, and while it can take a while to fulfill them — maybe even years — most dads work hard to fulfill these aspirations. They are great for the entire family, including the father, and they are definitely promises worth keeping.
18 Broken: I'll Stay Up With the Baby
Most dads have great intentions when it comes to taking care of their little one. They get excited about their time with the baby, and they really want to be there for the baby and the mom. If they've read the baby books — and most do — they know that night can be one of the toughest times in the first several weeks with baby.
And not too long ago they used to pull all-nighters all the time, between the college papers and the parties and such. So they think it'll be an easy sacrifice to promise to stay up with the baby. For most dads, that's a promise they will keep for about a week and a half.
Many times, we totally understand the struggle. Usually the mom will be staying home for a month or two or three with the baby — even if they don't have maternity leave, a mom has to take some time to heal from the delivery — whereas the dad often times have to go back to work after a week, maybe even less. It's hard for some moms to let the dad stay up at night when he has to go to work in the morning and she doesn't. They both need their sleep, but even dads with the best of intentions usually end up breaking their promise to stay up with the baby.
17 Kept: I'll Change Diapers
The good news is there is one promise that dads usually keep these days when it comes to baby rearing. A generation or two ago, most dads wouldn't keep their promise to change diapers, but these days they do. In fact, it's usually fathers who do the honor of changing the first soiled diaper in the hospital, when the mom is still resting in bed. It's a biggie, filled with the tarry goopy meconium that is the waste that the baby makes in the womb. If that can do that, they can take care of most of the gross messes that the baby makes, and that first change usually gives them the confidence that keeps them on task.
We give you one tip — don't keep track of how many mom changes versus dad. It's hard for him to keep track, especially if he is working and mom is home more with the baby.
But if moms start to compare, the dad may feel more defeated and will do even less of his share. Moms should encourage the fathers to help but not make them feel resentful of the chore. It's a decent time to bond with the baby, and most men are totally up to the task.
16 Broken: I'll Always Be There
One of the toughest parts of being a parent is knowing that sometimes you can't be by your child's side. It's a promise that many dads make when their baby is still tucked in the mother's womb, when it seems like everything is safe and sound. But the truth is that most know that there is no way that they can always be there. For one, most dads these days have a job.
There are more and more men who are acting as stay-at-home dads, and many have jobs where they can work from home, so it is possible they are the caretaker for the formative years. But even then, neither mom nor dad can always be there.
Eventually, a child is going to go to school, or dad is going to have to take a work trip or even a mini-vacation with mom. They might miss the day that the baby takes his first steps because they were at work, or they come home too late to have ice cream to celebrate a spelling test. There are times when a dad can't physically be there. But the important thing is that his son or daughter knows that he hurts when they hurt and he celebrates when they celebrate. The kids need to know that he believes in them and encourages them and loves them even when he isn't there to witness each milestone in their lives. He'll be there when it counts, and that's all that matters.
15 Kept: I'll Walk You Down The Aisle At Your Wedding
As we just said, a good dad will be there when it counts, and that means that he will do his very best to keep the promise he makes to his little girl to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. It's a vision that they both have for much of their lives, and for most people it will come true. They will have that moment together, when a man hands off his little girl to entrust him to another's care.
It's a highlight for many dads, although they have to admit that it's bittersweet because they can't believe their child has grown up.
Recently, we were reminded that sometimes things happen that keep dad away. It happened to Meghan Markle, and if it happens to a princess it could happen to anyone. But that is rare. Sometimes medical issues do interfere, and unfortunately, some parents don't make it to their child's wedding day. But those parents are definitely with their children in spirit, and they are remembered on that day. There are many stories of fathers who held on during an illness to mark that special moment with their little girl because they do all that they can to keep that promise.
14 Broken: We'll Divide All The Work
We've got to hand it to dads. They are usually the first one to offer help to their pregnant wives. They encourage them to sit and rest. They do the dishes and bring them ice cream and run out to fulfill every craving. They make big promises that they will be so helpful once the baby is born — that they will divide u the work so it isn't so overwhelming for the mom.
Let's just say that doesn't always happen. Usually, dads are pretty awesome in the beginning. They take a lot of the responsibility, and even cook many nights. After they return to work, maybe they will swing by a restaurant on the way home and grab dinner, and they might even do some dishes.
But after a few weeks, things tend to slack off. We don't necessarily blame dads — we all lose sleep when there is a new baby in the house, and some things just get dropped when you get so tired.
Eventually, it goes back to the old ways in many families, and the mom ends up bearing the biggest load in terms of housework. Some dads manage to keep their promises, but most just don't.
13 Kept: I'll Be Here To Lighten The Load
Sometimes it's best not to over promise, and that is what is so great about this one. As much as moms want to hear that their husbands will do half of the work, it's just not realistic, as we've already discussed, especially if they aren't already in the habit of doing much help around the house. But the truth is that most are willing to do more if their spouse just lets them know where they need help.
A man who is there to lighten the load is one who shares the responsibilities of keeping the house clean and the meals prepped and cooked.
Maybe he goes to the grocery store so mom doesn't have to shop before she cooks, or he helps her get the dishwasher loaded after a meal. Some men choose to lighten the load by paying for a person to come once every week or two to help keep the house in order, and some take over the baby duties for a while so that the mom can have a night out for herself. No matter how they do it, moms are grateful for the dads who make an effort to help them get through the day. And most keep that promise.
12 Broken: I'll Stop Spending On Myself
Before a man has children, he has a lot of freedom with how he spends his money. Of course, there are bills and obligations that come, especially if he is married. But he usually can save up or spend on all kinds of indulgences. For some men, that means they can buy all the latest technology or go out to the movies every week. For others, they can save up and buy a boat or a motorcycle with little guilt, or they can spend on hobbies that make them happy.
But when a man becomes a father, there are a lot of other things that take priority.
There are lots of diapers and bottles and baby gear to consider, but there is also the idea of a college fund, a bigger, safer car and more savings in case something comes up. Upgrading the cell phone might seem like something can be skipped, but many times this is a promise that is broken. That's especially true because our society is one where things are often viewed as status symbols, and it can be hard to break that cycle. As long as it fits within the budget, this isn't necessarily a problem, and it is important that men continue to have hobbies and other things that make them feel like they still retain their identity outside of fatherhood. It's usually not the end of the world when this promise gets broken.
11 Kept: I'll Teach You How To Ride A Bike
Being a father is fun. That's something that sometimes gets forgotten in all of the worry about keeping a newborn alive and healthy and making sure that the mother is doing OK with the pregnancy and the delivery. For a father, the fun part usually comes later, but most of them keep their eye on the prize. They make promises to do the fun stuff that marks childhood — learning to ride a bike or play catch or swim together in the pool.
Even the men who aren't so into the diapers and the bottles usually keep their promise to teach their child how to ride a bike.
The thing about having kids that makes it special is it helps you remember the special parts about your own time as a child. That's especially fun for a dad who likes to act like a kid himself sometimes. Many times they dream about teaching their son or daughter something that was important to them as a kid, whether it's fishing or watching football. Those are the moments that bond a father and child. No matter how busy he is at work or other obligations, most dads are certain to set aside some time for these special moments and they keep their promise to the baby.
10 Broken: This Won't Change My Relationship With My Spouse
Babies are most often a product of love. Sometimes a couple isn't together when they welcome a baby into the world, but usually they come to an agreement before the baby's birth. When the baby is still on its way, a man can feel a lot of pressure to make sure that the relationship is solid, and he makes a lot of promises that the baby won't changes things.
A couple in love always wants to remain the same, but the truth is that a baby always changes a relationship between partners. The question is whether it will grow stronger or weaker.
Having a baby is really stressful in different ways. There are medical concerns and decisions to make. There are financial stressors, household decisions and so much more. The birth can be painful in more ways than one, and it could bring out the worst in both spouses. And the all-day-and-all-night madness of bringing home a newborn just adds to it. Kids can cause rifts in a relationship even when they are grown. There is no shame in struggling in a relationship after kids. The relationship will change, but if the mom and dad are committed and work hard at it, that doesn't have to be a negative thing.
9 Kept: I'm Going to Mess Up Sometimes
As confident as a man can be going into fatherhood, there are times when he realizes how very daunting the job can be. At those moments, his little whisper of promises to the baby in the belly start to get more humble. That's when he let's it slide: "I'm going to mess up sometimes," he admits. And he may not realize just how right that will be. It's impossible to be a perfect parent, even if you have read up on everything and know all about diapering and feeding.
While much of the early days of parenthood are about how to keep a baby alive and growing, that's not the hardest part of being a father (of course, though, it's not easy).
The really tough part happens when you have to start disciplining the toddler and then giving advice to the tween and keeping the teenager feeling confident but also willing to listen and be a productive person.
The mistakes can start with buying the wrong kind of diapers, but they will only get bigger and more consequential. The important thing is for a dad to admit to his children that he isn't always perfect but he always has their best interests at heart. He'll do his best, but we can promise he will mess up sometimes.
8 Broken: I'll Leave Work Earlier And Won't Bring It Home From The Office
Work life is really important to many men. It's not just about the paycheck. It can also be a big part of a man's identity and help give him confidence in all aspects of his life. But when he's going to become a father, men know that it's important to be home with their wife and child. Some men try to wait to have children until they think that they can have more time away from the office because they believe that is an important promise to make, for their spouse and their child. But most dads who promise that they will leave work early to spend more time with the family end up breaking that promise.
There are many reasons that the promise might get broken, and one of those is definitely the pressure to provide for their growing family and give their wife and children everything they want and need.
But for a lot of men it goes back to the identity issue. As much as they love their family, they still need to find fulfillment in their work.
While many men can't keep their promise to leave work right at 5, most end up eventually finding a good balance, and that's all that really matters.
7 Kept: I'll Always Wipe Away Your Tears
Many men might be tempted to promise that they would never let their little one get hurt. But most figure out quickly that is one of the most illogical and impossible promises that they could ever make. From the moment that they are born, babies will cry. They will fall down and get bumps and bruises from the first time that they try to walk, and if they ever have a friend, they are likely to have a fight. Most dads are smart enough to avoid promising they won't get hurt, but the best dads always promise — and keep their promise — to always wipe away their child's tears.
One of the hardest and most rewarding parts of being a dad is knowing that you have the ability to make a child feel secure and loved.
Even if a teenage daughter's heart is broken by a boy, her dad can help her remember that not all guys are terrible. There is someone that loves her and knows she is worthy of being treated well. The same is true for a little boy who is being bullied and needs his dad to cheer him up. Dads might feel helpless that they can't keep the tears from coming, but the best ones keep their promise to help wipe them away.
6 Broken: I'll Be Patient
Patience is probably the biggest virtue needed of being a positive parent, but when dads — or moms, for that matter — promise to their unborn child that they will be patient, it's a lot easier said than done. It can get tricky from the very beginning, especially if the baby has colic and it seems like there is nothing that he can do to soothe the little one.
Unfortunately, colic is usually at its worst in the evening, which means that a dad comes home from work with high hopes to spend time with his new baby and give his partner a break only to find that he doesn't seem to have the knack for calming the baby down.
Patience comes up throughout the baby's life, when the toddler asks a million questions or the six-year-old tries to learn to tie his shoes. It happens again when a dad is helping with homework and when the teenager rolls his eyes at every meal. It's hard not to constantly yell at children when they don't listen, and it's certain that there are times when a dad will break his promise to be patient. Any time he manages to keep his cool should be considered a victory because they might be hard to come by.
5 Kept: I'm Going to Make You Smile
The amazing thing about dads is that even though they might not be the most patient of creatures, they can be great at lightening the mood. Dads may not be the ones that are the best at making babies laugh, that is, if they don't have siblings. While moms may spend more time hands-on with their newborn, they may be a little sad that they can't get the same glowing smile and chuckle from their baby. But that's because dads are so special. They are the ones that are confident to throw the baby in the air just to get them to laugh.
That ability to make their child smile will last throughout their lives, even when they are teenagers and try really hard to resist the charm.
There is even a phrase for the terrible yet funny jokes that fathers are famous for: dad jokes. While some moms are hilarious — don't get us wrong — they are usually a bit more serious when it comes to getting ready in the morning and completing all the tasks that have to happen throughout the day. But dads realize when the mood needs to be lightened, and they usually have a plan to do it. It's a knack that includes tickle fights every evening and silly faces at breakfast. It's one of our favorite things about dads, and definitely one of the best promises kept.
4 Broken: I'll Give You Everything
When men are in love, whether it's with a woman or a new baby on the way, they tend to get a bit foolhardy. They promise the moon and stars, even though it's not really theirs to give. They want to give their love everything and in that moment the sky is the limit, but that is not possible and it's bound to lead to disappointment. The problem is it's really easy to promise you'll give a newborn everything when they aren't asking for anything. When they are 5 and making a list for Santa, the truth will come to roost.
There are limits in every budget. Even millionaires have to say no sometime to their children when their wishes get too big, and for families living in the average American household, the wallet just won't allow for many of the things that kids desire.
The thing is that a dad's job isn't to give a child everything he wants. After all, some of those desires are sure to be bad for him or her. The important thing is to provide for the child's needs and to teach him that sometimes you can't always have everything. It's a harder lesson but it's still one of love, and it's a dad's responsibility.
3 Kept: You'll Always Be Beautiful In My Eyes
Mothers and fathers are the first people to fall in love with a child. And no matter what, they see a beautiful newborn grow into a gorgeous child and then a lovely adult. That happens for children who have physical conditions that may not seem so beautiful to the outside world and may cause scorn in the schoolyard. It's a promise that a dad makes every child, especially every daughter, and it always comes true.
This promise is really important for every child because there will be some moment when they don't feel beautiful.
For most girls it can happen over and over again, from the times that her preschool friends made fun of her freckles to when her weight first came up in adolescence to the time she started to break out with acne as a teenager to when she got braces. Self-confidence is hard to build when kids are so prone to gang up on other kids. Even the girls who are considered pretty often end up comparing themselves to the models in the magazines, so they need some positive reinforcement from the most important man in their life — their father. The thing is, it will be easy for him — all daughters are beautiful in their dad's eyes.
2 Broken: I'm Giving Up My Bad Habits To Be Healthier For My Family
Fatherhood is an exciting time, but it's also the first time that a man can realize that other people depend on him. That can be daunting for a person who has never given much thought to his health other than that he might not be able to run as fast as he wants or he might not look as good in a suit as he would like.
His health takes on a whole new meaning when he wants to be around to walk his daughter down the aisle when she grows up and gets married.
That's why many dads start making promises about improving their bad habits when their wife is pregnant. That's especially true because she has to be sure to kick her habits to the curb, especially if she was a smoker. Lots of men will work to quit with her, and they may give up alcohol while she has to abstain as well. Many women eat healthier while they are pregnant, although they also indulge in some cravings, and as much as some men promise to get healthier, many of them also gain weight along with the mom-to-be. Unfortunately, most men don't keep that promise. They may join a gym, but that could take time away from the baby so they give it up pretty quickly. Pretty soon, many men end up in the same old habits. That's one reason that the dad bod has become a thing.
1 Kept: I'll Always Love You
This is the quintessential promise that all fathers make — that they will love their child for the rest of their life. And without fail, that is always the biggest promise that they keep. Of course, it's also the most important thing that a parent can and should do for their baby. Love is the bond that helps the child grow both physically and mentally healthy, and it gives the child the confidence to know that they can do anything, from riding a bike to making friends to graduating from school and getting a job. Love is the very basis for everything, and other than the basic necessities that parents are responsible for in feeding the baby and keeping him sheltered and dry, it's the one thing that the child truly needs.
There are plenty of times that parents feel frustrated by their children, and there are times when it will be hard to show that love. But parents need to know that even when they are being hard on their child, they need to do it with a loving touch. Even after a child is punished, he should know that he is still loved and that he will be no matter what. Some dads might not be great at saying the words "I love you," but they get the idea across with their words and actions. And that's the best promise that they could ever keep.