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.”
For the guy who loves to read and write non-fiction, these Father’s Day books could be the perfect last-minute presents. (You’re welcome!) Five new daddy memoirs just hit stores–four of them really funny–and your man will definitely feel better about his parenting skills after reading these real-life foibles. These titles are especially good for the more involved fathers (who knew tough-guy Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa was hands on?) and SAHDs. And the last book on my Father’s Day list is brave and heartbreaking: A decorated military veteran learns he’s dying of cancer and puts together a collection of advice for his sons.
Find the right read for that special guy below.
Dude toDad: The First 9 Months
by Hugh Weber If you know a father-to-be, this is a straightforward and witty book written just for him. Blogger Hugh Weber breaks down everything the stages of pregnancy, childbirth and new infant in a way that guys will understand. About that baby, he writes: “Picture the worst possible imaginable disturbing (borderline criminal!) thing that could be done to you by a child, increase it by several orders of magnitude, and expect it to occur weekly.”
Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad
by Adrian Kulp Based on his popular blog, Adrian tells his story of going from TV executive (he booked comedians for Chelsea Handler and The Late Late Show) to SAHD. He went to baby showers, farmers markets and learned how to accessorize his little daughter. He makes lots of mistakes, writes about them candidly and invites his readers to laugh at them.
Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters is Tougher than I Look
by Steve Schirripa Most recently, he starred in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but you may also recognize Steve from his role as Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri on The Sopranos. Now he’s come out with a hilarious book about being dad, AKA Big Daddy. He’s known to be overprotective, highly opinionated and painfully old-fashioned. He’s not into being a cool parent or praising every little thing a kid does. Instead, he’s devoted and completely involved. His motto: “Suck it up. Be there. Because you only get one shot at this.” His stories about his girls are totally relatable and irresistibly funny.
Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenting by Drew Magary If you’ve ever gotten drunk while trick-or-treating (or even thought about it), this book is for you. The author, a writer and blogger for GQ and Gawker, knows how to tell a story. He talks about head lice, retrieving his toddler from a treehouse, saying dirty words in the bathtub and more. Profane and passionate, his book is a touching read about parenting.
Tell My Sons by Lt. Col. Mark M. Weber Two years ago, at the age of 38, Mark learned that he had Stage IV intestinal cancer and was given four months to live. A former aide to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, Mark resolved to fight—to soldier on—but his doctors soon helped him to understand that there was no winning this battle. Faced with this, Mark decided to write a letter to his sons so they would know the advice he would have given, the conversations they would have had, if he were still around. As Mark earned unexpected months, that letter became this book. Check out his video below:
In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, book publishers released a slew of great books written by dads. This week, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorites. Like Glad to be Dad: A Call to Fatherhoodby Tim J. Meyers. He’s spent years in the trenches raising two sons and a daughter. A longtime, successful writer, he is the primary caretaker while his wife works outside of the home. He’s full of hard-won wisdom–on everything from cleaning products to kids’ snacks–and conveys practical advice in his characteristically warm and witty style. At the heart of Myers’ book, he advocates for father involvement. When dads play central roles in child-rearing, the wives and children are happier and less stressed. When I read Glad to be Dad, I thought of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. She writes about the importance of choosing a helpful partner–someone just like Myers.
Find out more about fatherhood from Myers himself. Below, he answers questions that range from household chores to Father’s Day presents. (Hint: Get this man some peanut butter cups ASAP.)
KK: Why is it so important for dads to be involved in childcare and house chores? TM: I think family is one of the most beautiful realities in the world, but to reach its full potential, family members have to work together. Right now, though many men are superb husbands and fathers, a lot of women are doing more than their share. Which is not only unfair, but works against that life-giving unity of the family. Children also benefit profoundly from the loving attention of their fathers–of course. And the kicker is that men grow happier and wiser too!
KK: If a dad works a lot, and he doesn’t watch the kids often, what are three ways to entice him to help more?
TM: To me it’s not a matter of “enticing,” but of growing in our understanding. One way to do that is to recognize that most men face their own pressures, especially at work. Men shouldn’t get a pass on domestic commitment because of this, but we all should respect the hard work they do (and the worry that sometimes goes with it). A second way is for husband and wife to keep talking about these issues. This is especially crucial because a lot of men don’t have good models of committed fatherhood, so it’s all new to them. Third, I think families in general should value themselves more, celebrate themselves more, which will lead everyone to appreciate being with each other. The beautiful thing is to gradually make that potential a reality!
KK: What are some household chores that males might be more likely to do?
TM: I can’t speak for all men, of course, but I don’t think it’s wise to even think this way. My wife and I agreed years ago that we would value all work that goes into the family, whether it brings in money or not, whether it’s lowly or repetitive, whatever. All the work counts–picking up far-flung socks or cleaning a toilet are as worthy as bringing home a paycheck or helping kids with homework. So everyone does everything. (Though I must admit that, out of my own ignorance, I was banned from helping our kids with math).
KK: Some husbands are very involved in the daily domestic routine. What are some nice things their wives can do to tell them thank you?
TM: Let’s see…”You are one studly love-muffin, baby!” I’m always happy to hear things along those lines. And though I’m joking, I’m partly serious too, since a guy can sometimes feel less masculine under domestic circumstances. I don’t think a man should feel that way; I can’t think of anything more masculine, for example, than a full-grown man bending to a child. But there’s a tendency to associate homelife with femininity, and I know some guys won’t mind being reminded–in whatever ways–that they’re still 100 percent male.
KK: What is/was your favorite stay-at-home dad responsibility?
TM: Being able to share the astonishing miracle of life with my children hour by hour, day by day–and giving my heart to complete partnership with the woman I love.
KK: What do you want for Father’s Day?
TM: Buy me a power tool, and I’ll send it on to Tim Allen. But I wouldn’t mind a gift card to buy music–I’ve been eyeballing some Ben Folds CDs lately. And my family knows my desperate weakness for that quintessence of edibles, glory of all deliciousness, the peanut-butter cup. A bunch of those. A whole bunch. So yep, I’m pretty easy to please.