The Ten Commandments for New Fathers

by David Port

It's easy to pick a new father out of a crowd. He's the one shambling aimlessly down the sidewalk with a glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. Parenthood can indeed be an overwhelming experience for many new dads. What they need to find their way through the postpartum wilderness is a little sage advice and guidance from guys who came before them.

Here's the code of responsibility that the créme of the new father crop has been passing down to men of younger generations since well before Charlton Heston and Moses himself walked the earth.

  1. Thou shalt protect, positively influence and nurture thy offspring. Babies are vulnerable. They need dads who vigilantly look out for their best interests.

  2. Thou shalt protect, honor and support thy postpartum partner and thy relationship. The best-equipped dads are those who are on solid ground with their women.

  3. Thou shalt be present in, and savor, the moment. Don't let the pressing responsibilities of parenthood overshadow the amazing moments and emotions life with a baby can conjure.

  4. Thou shalt take pride in thy offspring and in paternity. Do not shy from opportunities to show off thy chip-off-ye-old-block.

  5. Thou shalt trust thy instincts. In moments of parental indecision or crisis, it's often best to go with what your gut tells you.

  6. Thou shalt use levelheaded common sense. The challenges of parenthood can test one's patience. During trying times, let cooler heads prevail. If you cannot count to 10, count to three.

  7. Thou shalt not fear asking for help and guidance when necessary. Don't let your pride get in the way of what's best for the little one. Good advice is out there, from peers, pros, even your own parents.

  8. Thou shalt exercise healthy skepticism and an ability to discern solid, useful advice and information from suspect. Parenting and child-rearing advice can come at you from all angles. Not all of it is useful and some of it is downright hazardous to the health of your youngster. Consider the source and learn how to filter.

  9. Thou shalt be an involved, engaged parent. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Leave detached parenting to lesser men.

  10. Thou shalt remain true to thy inner troglodyte. Being a responsible father and partner doesn't preclude you from continuing to pursue things that make you who you are. A happier, fulfilled man usually makes for a better parent.

David Port is a Colorado-based writer and editor whose books include The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion, The New Game: A Strategy to Reinvent the American Economy, and Caveman's Guide to Baby's First Year. Born and raised in Connecticut, Port founded his own writing/editing firm, Southpaw Print/Net Communications, in 2000. He's also founding editor of the New Parent Guide, a magazine for new dog and cat adopters. An avid snowboarder, camper and baseball fan, Port lives in the Denver area with his wife and two young children. He's a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford.

Copyright © David Port. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.