Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Ex-Commando Neil Sinclair recently wrote a great new guidebook for dads with the apt title, Commando Dad: Basic Training. When Prince William was expecting His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge (why didn’t I think up a name like that for my progeny?), he was seen reading this no-nonsense military manual. It’s obviously a very masculine book–but with a super sweet message. Sinclair believes all dads should be hands-on. Ten-hut.
Author Sinclair explains what’s so special about Commando Dad in a guest post for Parents below:
“I live by the maxim that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Every job I have ever done – Royal Engineer Commando, teacher, Security Guard at the UK Mission to the UN, stay-at-home dad and childminder – I have always given 100 percent. When I first became a new dad 11 years ago, it was a daunting experience. I’d been with my wife every step of the way. We went to classes, and we read books. But that prepared us for the birth and not for the whole life that came afterward. Suddenly, I had a physically and emotionally exhausted wife and a new baby that could only communicate with me by crying. I felt a huge responsibility and wanted to step up, but I also felt as if I was being sidelined: The childcare books, when they did mention me, assigned me to the role of rubbing my wife’s back and telling her how well she did. I knew I had more to offer than that.
So I fell back on my Commando training: my ability to adapt, improvise and overcome. As I got to grips with the basics I did what came naturally – I applied military precision to the task. I got essential kit and supplies; I got organized; and I got us all into a routine. And this approach helped me to create a well-ordered and happy family unit and laid the foundations for the manual I would later write for new dads, Commando Dad: Basic Training.
That’s not to say it was easy. It was never easy, and it still isn’t. But often, the things that are really worth doing aren’t easy. I love being a hands-on dad. I love spending time with the troopers, and I take a huge amount of pride in my unit and how far I’ve come as a dad in the past 11 years.
When I first became a stay-at-home dad, people presumed it was a temporary arrangement until I got a job, not a conscious decision my wife and I had made. Although society’s perception of dads has improved over the last decade, we still don’t always get the easiest of rides. Often the only time you hear about dads and childcare is in a negative way: Dads aren’t spending enough time with the kids, aren’t helping with childcare, don’t instinctively pick up the basics, etc. But from my experience –being a dad, running a club for dads and speaking to new dads on the Commando Dad forums – there’s a lot of dads out there that do want to be more involved, but they don’t know how. And too often, they’re made to feel like it won’t come naturally – after all there is no such term as ‘paternal instinct’.
My advice to new dads is to have the confidence to be hands-on from Day One. There is no ‘one’ way of doing things – as long as you love and care for your trooper, you’re doing it right. Don’t believe the hype. The only thing we dads can’t physically do is breastfeed. No dad who has ever held his baby for the first time can deny the powerful flood of emotions to love and protect – that’s parental instinct right there. Seek out other new dads – in the real world or online – and create a network to both support you through the trying times and share your inevitable successes. Commando Dad:Basic Training can give you straightforward, accessible advice on all of the practical skills you’ll need but you’ll have to supplement that information with a lot of hands on experience.
So have the confidence to step up, dads. You’re simply too important not too. To your baby trooper you are somewhere between hero, role model and protector – and you owe it to yourself and to them to be the best dad you can be. Right now.”
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