Sacrifice your time and embrace your new routine.
Giving up a few (or many) things is perhaps the most obvious, fundamental rule in being an awesome dad. Without sacrificing your time, you wouldn't be able to pull off all of the other keys to becoming great. You trade in your relaxing after-work "zone-out time" for "zone-in time" with your wife and baby, but the key to giving up your time isn't as simple as just being there-- it's a matter of making yourself as involved as possible while you are there.
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Having a baby adds a whole new list of to-dos to your wife's day and to yours. But don't just sit back and wait for things to get checked off the list. Jump right in and be the first one to figure out the best way to soothe your little one at night, or the easiest way to clean the baby bottles. And even though you can't breast feed your baby, you can take over for some daddy-baby bonding time afterwards. Soon enough you'll be doing other great proactive dad stuff like reading bedtime stories and signing up to coach Little League.
Let loose when playing with your child.
You are a guy. Therefore, you are funny, or at least you probably think you are. Your sense of humor may even be one of the reasons your wife was attracted to you in the first place. Now it's time to start using your comic talent to entertain the little squirt. Find the fun in goofing around with your baby. Because, honestly, what else do you do with babies besides change their diapers and feed them? Your instincts will guide you to treat your baby like the only person at an amusement park or the only member in the audience of your own late-night show.
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Relish in the positive, not the negative.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a child complimented by a stranger in front of one of that child's parents, and then I hear the parent sarcastically reply, "You want him? You can take him home with you if you want..." Guard your attitude toward parenting. Sure, there are annoying things, but being the kind of dad your kids will be proud to call their own means building up, not tearing down.
Become the official photographer of your household.
Always keep your digital camera handy and snap a few shots of the baby every couple of days. Make it your job to create and be responsible for the baby's photo database on the family computer or your laptop. Don't worry about being a pro -- there's a reason they're called snapshots. Every picture tells a story, so just imagine what a gifted storyteller you can easily become!
Set clear expectations and follow through consistently.
You won't be able to enforce your expectations until your child is older, but the process will likely become one of the most enduring rules in parenting over time. One of your jobs as a dad is to protect and train your child, and even if it never really seems like it, kids crave structure. As your baby grows old enough to understand "yes" and "no," make sure those words have meaning. Let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no. Let your "I will" become "I did." You're not perfect, but now you've got a little adult watching you to see if the rules even matter.
Strive to be an awesome dad.
The desire has to be there before any action is likely to follow. The good news is, you've already got this one covered. After all, you're reading an article on Parents.com telling you how to be an awesome dad. Chances are, you're already a self-sacrificing, actively involved dad who loves to show off his kid's snapshots on Facebook, even if they're only sonograms.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.