5 Things That Have Changed Since Becoming a Father
Guest Post by Damon Dietz
I found out that I was going to be a father on my 30th birthday. It was the greatest gift I could have ever received. Since that day my life has changed in so many ways, it’s hard to quantify.
People often ask me how becoming a father changes you. I never really thought about it until now.
5 Things That Have Changed Since Becoming a Father
- I Decided to Take My Health Back
I had been overweight most of my life. I spent my entire adult life before kids weighing in over 300lbs. Truth be told, I never really minded it much. It didn’t affect me like it did some people. I didn’t have any significant health issues, and I was very active for a guy my size. I was okay being fat.
But once I became a father, I started to think more about the future. What if I developed heart disease or cancer? What if my obesity were to lead to my early death? I had to make a change so I could be around for my kids. I want to see them graduate high school. I want to see my son play high school football. I want to walk both of my girls down the aisle on their wedding day. Lastly, how could I teach them to eat healthy and exercise when I clearly wasn’t doing those things myself?
So, a few years after my first daughter was born, I finally did it. I took my health back. I lost 50 pounds in 3 months, and have gone on to lose over 100 pounds in total since then. I began to feel great, mentally & physically. Now that I am over 40, I am glad that I made the choice to take my health back. My kids and I stay active together and I couldn’t imagine living a lifestyle different than the one I have created for myself.
- I Learned How To Cook
When I was single, I was the master of cooking Hot Pockets and Ellios Pizza in a toaster oven. That was the extent of my experience in the kitchen. I never cooked a meal before I had kids.
Once I had my first child, I immediately knew that I didn’t want her to be like me (in regards to eating and exercise). I wanted her to eat nutritious foods and didn’t want her to eat crap. So, I decided to learn to cook. I took a basics of cooking class and started experimenting with healthy, nutritious foods. I learned to enjoy cooking with and eating vegetables and started making home-cooked meals every day.
Now, I love to cook. We have a tradition to cook at least one meal together as a family per week, and sometimes we do many more. We have even created delicious, and healthy versions of traditionally decadent foods, like our healthy, protein-packed banana bread recipe.
- I Realized the Importance of Therapy & Life Coaching
While not directly related to having kids, I did learn the benefits of therapy and working with a life coach after having kids. Having kids gave me a greater purpose in life. I learned about why I am the way I am from therapy, and how I can become the best version of myself through life coaching.
- I Practice Gratitude Daily
I want my kids to grow up to be grateful. I want them to appreciate life and always look at the positive side of things.
There is no better way to teach your kids how to be grateful than to model gratitude. So, I learned to practice gratitude daily. Each morning I say what I’m thankful for, and we do so as a family once again at dinner time.
- I Now Understand What it is Like to be Discriminated Against Because of my Gender
Unfortunately, this is the one negative thing I learned when becoming a father. There are so many negative, incorrect stereotypes regarding dads.
As a white male, I haven’t experienced any sort of racism or sexism in my life until becoming a father. And by no means is the sexism that I have been subjected to even close to the same level of discrimination that minorities, women, or the LGBT community in this country have to endure daily. But, I’ve experienced it to some extent nonetheless.
I have had to change diapers on the bathroom floor of restaurants because only the women’s bathroom had a changing table. I am spoken down to frequently, or in a manner in which questions my knowledge and ability to parent because I am not a woman; this includes other parents (mostly mothers), as well as professionals such as doctors and teachers. And the amount of parenting resources for dads is extremely limited compared to that for moms.
It seems like dads are second class citizens when it comes to parenting. We just aren’t perceived as being as important as moms, and this is unfortunate. This was extremely frustrating in the early years, but has become even more difficult since becoming a single dad last year.
Becoming a father has changed my life in so many ways, and has helped me transform myself into a better person. Fatherhood isn’t the start of your journey. It isn’t the end of your journey. Becoming a father is a part of that journey. Enjoy the journey.
Damon Dietz is a writer, filmmaker, and professional speaker, who shares his knowledge of finance, health, and life from the perspective of a single, divorced dad over 40. He is a father to three amazing kids and thinks dads are kick-ass, even when the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots. You can read more of his musings at: www.damondietz.com