What Makes a Good Dad? The Road to Fatherhood!

How Do You Get Ready to Become a Dad?

Last updated on March 30th, 2021 at 01:57 am

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The dad is the unsung hero of parenting, and it’s easy to see why. They don’t grow babies inside of them for 40 weeks. They don’t breastfeed or have the same degree of parental instinct as mothers do. In many parenting situations I’ve seen, the role of the dad is ambiguous. Secondary to the mother. Perhaps a pale shadow of motherhood, expected to do her same function, but perhaps with a slightly masculine twist to it.

What is a dad’s role? What Can We Learn from the Dads Who Came Before Us?

The sonogram of Casey and Sarah's unborn child, turned into a meme by Justin Baisden.
Our sonogram meme’d by Justin Baisden.

Our memories are shorter now than they’ve ever been (thanks, technology!)—there’s a lot about my Dad I remember from my later years, but much of my childhood is a blur. And in a family with both parents working to make ends meet, what I do remember is lots of time in my Grandma’s basement, watching TV or horsing around with my brother until my parents come home to resume the parental segment of their lives, tired or not.

I have a wealth of social cues on what it means to be a Dad—so then, why do I feel woefully unqualified to carry it out?

Because there’s no manual. There’s very little out there that fathers can point to as a guide to how other fathers have stepped up to a role that society trains us so well to avoid. Fatherhood isn’t as sexy as cars, exciting as sports or as tantalizing as a delicious plate of food. Fatherhood makes us worry—it makes us uncomfortable and fills us with fear.

“I’m not ready to be a Dad.”—What Makes for a Good Father Figure

Every father-to-be has, at some point, had this thought. Some men act on that fear and offer to pay for abortions or simply just get up and leave. Some prove the statement as entirely true and continue acting out well into fatherhood, showing that they never really cared about anyone but themselves.

But then you have the rest. The Dads who stay and raise their young and do a good job of it. The ones you hear about in wedding speeches and see on Full House and The Cosby Show. We all think that we can’t be that good a father—so am I ready?

There’s a secret to parenting. Something that no one bothers to tell you that in its own twisted way, might help put your mind at ease if you knew it, and it’s this:

No one has a clue what they’re doing when it comes to raising kids. Read all the books you want, listen to the advice from any of the super-nannies—there’re some things which are just good, common sense, but for the most part, we’re all individuals dealing with individual kids and trying to do the best we can with what skills we have.

But we don’t have to do it alone.

The Road to Fatherhood

It was a few months ago when Sarah stopped me from my tinkering on the computer long enough to tell me that we were expecting. When she told me, I think she expected more of a reaction. Jumping for joy, freaking out in a mad panic, dropping a plate—something! But oddly enough, she told me and all of a sudden I was simply at peace.

Some of my fellow BiSC-uits once told me that while a woman becomes a mother when she gets pregnant, a man doesn’t truly feel like a father until he holds his child for the first time—and I get that. I can’t fully understand what Sarah’s going through, and I simply do whatever she tells me to do to help make her life easier. In my life, not all that much has changed, but for the first time in a very long time, I was a man with a plan. A goal. A deadline. I needed to get as much done as possible before the baby became “real”!

And when you have as many ideas as I do rattling around in my head, that’s not exactly a simple feat.

So What Do I Do With the Man I Am ALREADY?

So what now—do I give it all up and fade into obscurity, never to be heard from again? Is that what it means to be a father?

Everyone says that after having a child, you have no time for anything. You can give them all your love, money and experience, but your life is no longer yours. Kids demand all of your time. All of your energy. Forget who you were, because a parent is everything that you’ll become.

But if you give your dreams up, what lesson are you teaching to your kids when they have to make the hard choices in their lives?

I’m not naïve enough to think that my life will be anywhere the same when I enter fatherhood. Parenting is no joke—what little time you may have had left to yourself after renouncing your bachelorhood and entering a relationship gets divvied up even more with someone completely relying on you for their survival!

In my life, all the pieces are starting to come together. I started really getting into social media a few years ago, and since then I’ve built a community of friends and peers who really get what I’m trying to do. I’ve built an audience actually willing to read what I write on my blog and have been fortunate enough to be included in events and situations tat I never could’ve imagined. I’ve started building something that could potentially be amazing—but sometimes life has other plans for us.

I’m Not Dead, I’m Just a Dad.

In another six months there’ll be another addition to our home. Life will be a huge shift for me! It’ll mean less events for a while. A tighter budget. Less coffee dates and more living vicariously through my friends. Going out for drinks with the boys will become reading books and cleaning up toys—stay up ’til all hours of the night blogging will become diaper changes and formula feeding. I’ll have to find those odd moments of repose to gather my thoughts and write something meaningful, but no one ever said that blogging was easy. Becoming a father just forces me to look at it a little differently.

Much like raising a kid, with my blog, I’m in it for the long haul. There’s nothing you can gain overnight that’s truly worth it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took 25 years and many failed experiments to produce the iPod, a device that would change the consumer electronics game forever. Or, to make these analogies even more relevant, Seth Godin—blogger extraordinaire—just wrote his 5000th blog post. Posting daily, that puts his first post in September 1999—14 years ago!

Fatherhood. Let’s Get It.

So am I ready to become a father? No. No one’s ever truly ready. You learn a lot as you go and you grow into it, much like any new experience in life. Am I ready to love this kid? Of course—I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure this kid is amazing and that they always know it! I’ll give them everything I can to help them be who they need to be, and make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. But does it mean that I’ll no longer be Casey Palmer? That I’ll give up everything that makes me who I am?

You don’t give up your friendships when you start dating someone new. You don’t give up your identity when you become a parent.

Readers, blog, and my unborn child—let’s all grow together.


The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

By Casey E. Palmer

Husband. Father. Storyteller.

Calling the Great White North his home, Casey Palmer the Canadian Dad spend his free time in pursuit of the greatest content possible.

Thousand-word blog posts? Snapshots from life? Sketches and podcasts and more—he's more than just a dad blogger; he's working to change what's expected of the parenting creators of the world.

It's about so much more than just our kids.

When Casey's not creating, he's busy parenting, adventuring, trying to be a good husband and making the most of his life!

Casey lives in Toronto, Ontario.

26 replies on “What Makes a Good Dad? The Road to Fatherhood!”

You already know how excited I am about this new chapter – but now I mean that in your life AND on your blog! 🙂

Also, this is exactly what I’ve been talking about recently. So yes, yes and YES.

I can’t lie, Other Kaci — I was partly inspired by you and your approach to parenting when I wrote this. And you’re right. My child will be an addition to my life, not someone whose every whim needs to be catered to. I’ll be loving, I’ll go out of my way to do things for them — but ultimately, they’ll have to learn to work to the beat of my drum 🙂

Nah, I’m looking forward to this chapter and every crazy-ass story that comes from it! Wish me luck 😀

Thanks a ton, Other Kaci 🙂 (More accurate than us trying to figure out which spelling is the best one, amirite?)

I’m sure we’ll have MANY conversations about the kidlets in the future! Because I’ll need all the help I can get 😉

hyfr and yolo indeed, my friend. i think you are the perfect specimen of man to make an excellent dad and father and i am so excited to read about what this journey brings for you. all of my best wishes to you and sarah!

Thanks so much, Dominique 🙂 I’m going to try and create another me and then horribly fail at it, but I figure I’ll still give it a good go 😉

Nah, it’ll be interesting at the LEAST!

I always found “being ready” to be a question that got on my nerves near the end of the pregnancy. No matter the answer you’re going to be a dad anyway, it’s all in what kind of person you are and how you react.
The world of the dad according to the media is to be relegated as secondary but you’re a partner in crime. 50-50 split doesn’t even cover it. It’s hard to explain but for me there’s dads that get it and those who don’t. Never think that you’re the secondary parent and you won’t become one 🙂
If she breastfeeds that will literally be the only thing you can’t do. And you’ll have to do more then you think as she recovers from the birthing.
The best plans are ones that are flexible and bend heavily with kids around. Some worry about what they’ll lose after birth but what you gain and what that replaces can’t be measured against anything else. You’ll know soon 😉

To me, Mark, it’s SO similar to the question “How’s married life?”

What do people expect? A sudden breakdown as the responding party details all of the things they wish they knew before saying “I do”?

You’re right. In the end, the father’s going to be a father anyway, and that’s just how it is.

And no, I don’t think for a second that I’m going to be secondary. In my life, my father was always working to keep the family afloat, but the side effect from that is that I spent CONSIDERABLY more time with my Mom. My Dad and I weren’t close growing up, but we’ve been doing a LOT better with our relationship in recent years.

I don’t want to have to wait 25 years to have a good relationship with my kid. We’ll both be in the thick of this child-rearing business, and we’ll see what this fatherhood stuff is made of!

I had the same thing, my dad worked shifts and was gone a lot.
It’ll amaze you how things both you and your wife experienced with parenting will influence you in what you do, both in similarity and in contrast of those experiences.

Yeah, we had VERY different upbringings, most definitely. It’s come up in conversation various times over the years, and we’ll just see how we can put it all together. It’s going to be VERY interesting to see what comes of all of our combined efforts!

I’m glad you’ve kept in mind what I said about what’ll happen when you hold your baby; I know you’re going to overflow with love. I don’t think anyone’s truly ever ready for the great things that happen in life. Ready to make a friend, ready to fall in love, ready to raise a family. How can one prepare for these experiences that are not the same for any two individuals? But able, that you can be. And that you are. You are 100% able to be a dad and you definitely won’t be dead to any one of us when it happens. Even if we hear less from you, even if you feel out of the loop with us. If anything, it’ll just encourage more visiting. After all, I’ve never been to Toronto…

Best response. Either coast is good — we have a lot of variety 😉

But yeah, if Larissa ever makes it out to Toronto, I’ll try to find at least ONE day to escape and show some of the sights 🙂

Thanks for the wise words in Vegas, Larissa 🙂 I definitely took them to heart and it did help me to glean a bit more understanding of my situation.

I honestly don’t know what to expect. We’re doing our best to prepare with pre-natal classes, researching what kinds of things we’ll need around the house and what I can get off of my plate to be more focused and ready to just be THERE. There’s never a perfect time for major life changes, but I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea now than 2012 Casey Palmer would’ve been, I can tell you that!

Here’s to the bevy of challenges that’re sure to come my way!

Like you said, I don’t think anyone is fully prepared to be a parent. With that said, you’re one of the best people I know and I am confident you’ll be a great Dad and role model. 🙂

*smirk* Simone, you’re easily the one on this thread so far who’s known me the longest, so thank you. You’ve seen me go from a space-case youngin to who I am now, so that means a lot to know that you have that level of confidence in me 🙂

I intend to have a kid who I can have a relationship filled with equal parts trust and respect, but also fun. I feel like if I keep reminding myself that keeping a positive attitude will make just about anything work out, there’s no situation that I won’t be able to tackle.

It’s a CRAZY new chapter, but I’m surprised that I just haven’t gone crazy yet from the “pressure” that I’m supposed to be feeling.

Guess we’ll see in the coming months 🙂

LOL. I’m glad that you approve, Ria 🙂 My mission is this: I’m going to buck the trend with blogs in Toronto. I’m going to write more about thoughts and feelings than products and events. I’m going to write something that people can connect to rather than a piece to prove that I’m a “good social medialite”.

It’s time to put the big boy pants on and make something meaningful 🙂

SO much more to come!

Thanks so much, Gina 🙂 Even though I didn’t get to meet you in person this year, I hope our paths eventually DO cross!

Now it’ll just need to be with a stroller in tow or something 😛

1. This is a fantastic post.
2. Just remember: you’re more ready than me to be a father. (Ba Dum Tsss)
3. Coolest dad ever? Makes child into meme before being born.
4. I will babysit for a low fee of three easy payments of good Caribbean food. (But seriously.)
5. Your child will break hearts across the nation. Called it.

1. Thank you, Paige 🙂 Gotta turn up the quality output, amirite?
2. HA! Yeah, I think my Y chromosomes have something to do with that. I see what you did there.
3. It was actually Justin who did it. Having awesome tech-savvy friends is always a plus!
4. This can totally be arranged.
5. They’re never leaving the house NOW.

Hey Case,
Sorry it took me so long to get around to posting here. I can’t tell you how happy Bobby and I are for you and Sarah.

It’s funny, I see you and Sarah as the reverse Bobby and Me. The two of you are perfectly balanced and will be amazing parents.

Congrats! Sending you guys love.

I’m not EVEN stressed about it, Christine — thanks for dropping a line 🙂

I have a feeling that this child is going to have a VERY unique experience growing up, and I hope it makes their adult life as enriched as possible. We’re in a society that teaches us to be as selfish as possible to be happy, and I’m hoping I can raise a kid that bucks that trend and wants to give back to the world that made them who they are.

Time will tell, I guess!

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