I preface this by saying that, yes, I’m aware many of you don’t have kids, aren’t planning on them anytime soon, and are probably thinking, “Fuck that, man, I’m never having kids.” Well, guess what. At some point, you’re likely going to deal with at least one screaming baby. Happens to the very best of us, myself included (I’m aware this will draw most of the “I’m too cool for kids. I love saving my money and freedom” comments). This article is for the guys actually planning on passing on their DNA and some life lessons to an offspring at some point, or guys who accidentally find themselves in that predicament. Sometimes “oops” happens.
It’s at the point when you find out that you’ve got nine months to get your shit together that you will utter the words, “I’m gonna be the cool dad.” Everyone imagines themselves as the cool parent who their kids love, and all their friends love, and get a statue built of them as “World’s Coolest Dad” by all the admirers of their cool parent ways. What’s more likely is that you’re gonna struggle with it like every other parent, because no matter if you have your kid at 22 or 42, at some point he or she is going to look at you and say, “Fuck that guy. What a nerd.” And that’s okay, but most of the time, you’ll just be hoping that you can be looked at in a favorable manner by your kids. With that being said, the most important part about being “the cool dad” is being a good dad first and foremost, because the coolest thing a dad can do is do make sure their child doesn’t turn out to be an absolute fuckstain.
Here are a few ways to do that:
Play Along With Them
You may not want to have your friends see you playing with dolls, stuffed animals, or doing whatever ridiculous imaginative game your kids think up, but your kids will love it if you take the time to play with them, at least while they’re young. Nothing will bring you closer than making a fool of yourself while playing along with their imagination, not to mention that at some point they’ll grow out of that phase and then want nothing to do with you. You don’t want to be that guy who was beneath playing like a child, with your child, who then finds himself staring at a box of action figures one day wishing you had taken some more time to play with your kids instead of staring at your laptop (aka feeding your online gambling addiction) all day.
Appreciate Their Passion, Don’t Push Yours On Them
Every new father imagines their kid pursuing whatever their favorite pastime is. I’m a big baseball fan, so naturally, I’m planning on my kid being a first round pick who loves baseball. But, if he decides that baseball isn’t his thing, and something else piques his interest, I’m about to become the biggest fan of that there is. It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, chess, ballet, competitive ice dancing, photography, or literally anything else (that isn’t harmful or insane), it’s your job as a dad to support the hell out of them. If that means spending all weekend at chess tournaments or sending the kid off to photography camp, so be it. The coolest damn thing you can do in your kids’ eyes is be proud of what they’re doing, not being a salty old bastard about what they aren’t. If you bring out your old letterman jacket to show them what a football stud you were and how cool you were, you’re shit out of luck when it comes to coming off as anything but a douche bag to your kid.
It may not be something you find interesting whatsoever, but once you’re a parent, no one really gives a shit what your preference is. You may not be thrilled that your kid is passionate about the cello instead of the Cowboys, but your kid will appreciate the hell out of it if you support him with the same passion that you allocate to your heartbreaking football team.
Teach Responsibility, Instead of Just Being an Enabler
You may think being the cool dad means raging with your kids, being the guy who’s always letting his kids throw parties, or being the second biggest supplier of alcohol to underage kids in your town, second only to the beer barn that doesn’t ID anyone over age 13. The kids may love you then, but nothing is cool about being the guy who can’t close the yearbook and who raised the kid with two DUIs in high school.
This isn’t to say keep the booze away from him or her; the only way to learn how to regulate yourself is through experience and a few mistakes, that again, we all have made. If you lay down the law with an iron fist and never let them make their own choices to a reasonable extent, then you’re in for a world of “Sir, your son/daughter blew a .24 during their third period class” phone calls when you send them off to college. Hell, have a few beers with your kid, occasionally, and let it slide when they come home a bit hungover on the weekends. However, if you’re putting yourself at risk to get popped with a charge of providing alcohol to minors on a weekly basis, or you’re allowing your kid to choose drinking over being responsible, you’re just confusing being a drinking buddy with being a parent.
If you just skimmed to the bottom, as I would’ve done, it’s pretty simple:
1. Swallow your pride and be willing to look like a dumbass while playing with your kids.
2. Take the time to make them love and adore you like nothing else. Take on their passions as your own, because the important thing is that there is something that they care about, no matter what it is.
3. Teach them responsibility and self-regulation, without being an enabler.
When it comes to being the cool dad, it’s much more important for them to look back on their twenties and realize that no matter how they felt about you at certain times throughout their childhood, you took the time and made the choices that helped them not turn into a complete bag of shit. You may end up being an awkward mix of Phil Dunphy and Michael Bluth, but it’ll be worth it. .
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