Justin Miller is a single gay man and the proud father of his almost 2-year-old son Sam. Justin has some good words for guys who are on the fence about fatherhood. Dive in to Justin’s list and let us know what you think.
- Single men can be successful parents. Sure, it will be hard, and you probably need to be sure you have at least some kind of reliable support network around you. Plenty of singletons raise kids who go on to be successful and well-adjusted adults. If you’re ready to be a dad now, don’t feel that you have to waste time waiting around for the perfect partner.
- Don’t wait for the perfect time. While there are probably better times than others to become a parent, there is no perfect time. Unless you’re lucky enough that money is no object, there will always be something that’s not quite right: too many credit cards to pay, career not in the right place, not the right house, not the right neighborhood, too far from family, too busy, and so on and so on. If you wait for the perfect moment, you may wake up one day to discover you’re in your dotage, and will be wondering why you didn’t take the opportunity when you had it. Remember, there are all kinds of people, in all kinds of circumstances, both good and bad, who successfully have and raise kids. What a child needs is safety, stability, love, and positive role models. Everything else is gravy.
- You may feel that you want to buy every parenting advice book out there. Don’t. Either you’ll read it once, and never bother with it again, or it’ll become your rules bible and you’ll work yourself into a frenzy of stress wondering why your baby isn’t conforming to the narrative given in the books. Which isn’t to say you won’t need advice. Parenting is hard work, it needs skills, and knowledge. Sure, some of that you figure out for yourself, some you’ll develop “on the job”, some of it will be trial and error. But a lot will be talking to family and friends who have kids, other parents, and whatever support your care provider offers. The point is, don’t buy a library of advice books, and try to stick to their rubric. Your kid sure as heck won’t.
- Don’t go crazy with your credit card in the baby store. You may feel you have to buy every single latest baby related product. Most of what you end up buying, you just won’t need. Some, you’ll use once, and once only. Some, you’ll never use at all. My advice is get the basics (food, shelter, mobility), and let friends and family fill up the rest. This is especially true if you’re living on a budget. Don’t succumb to the peer pressure to get every latest fad. It really is just not necessary. Once you have the basics, you can improvise a lot of whatever else you end up needing, or buy it as and when it becomes an issue.
- Don’t be shy about buying second hand, or accepting “hand me downs”. Never compromise on safety, but past that, as the items are clean and serviceable, take it. Babies don’t care if something is used, and no one else who matters should, either. You’ll be helping the environment out, too.
- Never cut corners on safety. That includes cribs, car seats, strollers, stair gates, electrical outlet covers, furniture. Kids absolutely will find all of the most life-threatening combination of furniture, fixtures and fittings in your house, and do their utmost to nuke themselves. Kids are freaking ninjas. I’m not kidding. They will have leopard-crawled past your radar, and scaled the your bookcases before you know it . Single parents need to know going into this that you can’t watch your kids every second (you have to go pee, you have to eat), but if you can’t take them with you, make sure the environment you leave them in is safe.
- Know your rights as a father or dad to be. Rely on formal agreements and proper legal advice, rather than handshakes, friendships, or late night Internet surfing. For every success story of that kind, there’s a horror story. You can also waste time worrying about things that might not be an issue in your unique situation.
- Go for it, guys! If you feel you want to be a father, and you have the opportunity, do it. Sure, it’s going to be hard. There’s no point pretending it won’t be. Becoming a dad just might be the hardest thing you ever do. I’m telling you there will be moments of existential crisis. I promise there will be moments when you’re sitting in a shell-shocked silence, questioning your life choices. There will be moments when you will be on all fours, scrubbing vomit out of the carpet. There will be days when your baby just won’t quit crying, and you’ll feel like you’re at your wits end. But you know what? That’s also true for every other parent in the world right now, whether a dad or a mom, gay or straight.Investing in your child is always worth it, because the rewards are special. Every day, there will be something that makes you smile. What you get back – the love, the satisfaction, the sense of pride, the sheer stupid joy of it – makes it all worth it.
Justin Miller lives in the UK with his son Sam. Thanks for sharing your story and experiences with us, Justin.