hen I found out my wife was pregnant two things went through my head.“Amazing! I can't wait to be a dad!” and “Oh fuck, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
I had dreamt of being a dad for years but never actually thought about the practicalities of it. What do I do at the birth? How do I change a nappy? Where do I get nipple guards?! (Yeh they are a thing, check them out).
Feeding, discipline, sleep??
It was all very overwhelming and what made matters worse is that my wife was well on her way to researching all things pregnancy, birth and babies.
I had some catching up to do.
Luckily there are tons of recourses out there that can help brush up your skills and knowledge before the baby arrives. Although most of it is aimed at mums, there are a couple of key books for fathers to get you started.
The rest of the list is made up of non-parenting specific books that have helped me immeasurably since I’ve had kids. Remember, one of the best ways to be a good dad is to work on yourself first.
The list below includes the best books for new dads that cover practical tips, essentials for pregnancy and birth and how to manage your family finances. Plus I’ve thrown in one at the end that will help get you through those tough nights without pulling your hair out.
So if you’re a soon to be dad, or know someone that is, check out the list of the best books to get you ready for being a dad.
So what are the best parenting books for new dads?
Let's start with something super practical.
One of the most beautiful things about becoming a father is watching your partner bring your little one into the world. The sheer power, courage and will displayed by a woman giving birth is incredible to witness but it can be scary if you don’t know what to expect.
When we fell pregnant I saw my partner dive headfirst into the experience of pregnancy and I felt pretty left out. Then we got Juju Sundin's book.
The great thing about Birth Skills is that it not only gives your partner the tools for a great birth but it also brings you in as a father and gets you involved. There are so many things fathers can do to support and care for their partners during birth.
Some interesting points that are included in the book:
- Being your partners advocate (they may find it hard to communicate during birth so it’s up to you to know what they need)
- Lowering the lights (the hormones that are responsible for bonding are ‘shy’ and are reduced if the lights are too bright)
- Position changes that bring about a comfortable and safe birth
This book was a godsend for us and I was so glad we discovered it. Once your partner reads it make sure you do too, it’s a great way to show that you’re supportive and interested in the process.
"I would recommend this book to all of our expectant members as it gives detailed, useful techniques for pain-management in all stages of labor and childbirth that could, in some cases, prevent an unnecessary cesarean birth or help a woman succeed in her VBAC plan." --ICAN-Online.org
Steve is an Australian author and Psychologist that has written extensively on manhood and parenting. He’s the go-to author for sex-specific parenting tips and dives deep into the experience of raising boys to become respectful, confident and loving men.
Raising Boys in the 21st Century covers behavioural techniques, how puberty can be a positive time for your son and how hands-on engagement can be used to build lasting bonds with your kids.
Some more points the book covers:
- Brain and hormonal development including the latest findings on testosterone
- Boys and crying
- Boys and 'bad' behaviour
- Reading and communication
- Countering the effects of porn
Quick note. The generalisation of behaviour between sexes is starting to become fairly outdated and there is a lot of that in this book. I would still read it as it does have some good tips but just keep in mind that your kids may not fit into the box that society (and this book) creates for them. It’s also pretty conservative in its tone and ideas. Take what is useful and leave the rest.
Bonus! There is also a Raising Girls but see the note above.
Scott Pape has changed our lives and if there was one book I would recommend for a growing family, it would be this one.
The Barefoot Investor is a no-nonsense, easy to follow guide to get your finances set up properly so you don’t have to think about them.
Our income is relatively low and it’s been amazing to have the systems in place to manage things so we can focus on the important stuff like being present with the kids.
I saw my parents argue about money often and if you can avoid that, perfect!
The book covers some essential topics.
- How to manage your debt (without the stress!)
- Saving up for a deposit
- How to wipe 7 years off your mortgage
- Planning for your future
- Steps to be able to hand your kids a $140k cheque on their 21st birthday!
Some of this sounds too good to be true but just read it and I promise you it will be worth it. I’m so confident that it will help you that if you don’t get any value out of it at all, send me a message and I’ll apologise for recommending it personally (seriously).
We have adapted the system a little to include a process for us to pay bills automatically. I’m in the process of writing a guide on how to do it and will update this post when it’s live.
Tread your own path! (barefoot reference...)
Bonus - There is also a Barefoot Investor Families version, this one will come later and is targeted to older kids.
This is a big one and can be a little intimidating at first.
Ray Dalio is the founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgwater Associates, and is regarded as one of the leading innovators in the financial space. That may sound pretty boring and unrelated to fatherhood but it’s what he has learnt on his journey that is so valuable.
In Principles, Dalio uses the process of starting and managing Bridgwater as a springboard to outline a set of principles for life and work. Each principle is explained in detail with examples and real-world applications.
This book has helped me not only de-clutter my thought process but it’s allowed me to remove a lot of the unnecessary energy wastage associated with decision making. Things are easier if you have a principle or process in place.
A great example of one of the principles is the five-step process to get what you want out of life.
In this chapter, Dalio takes you through the process of constant evolution needed to be successful in life.
- Goals (Identify something that you want)
- Problems (Come up against a roadblock between you and your goal)
- Diagnosis (Why is the problem there, what caused it)
- Design (Come up with a solution for the problem with the info gained in step 3)
- Doing (Put your solution into action towards your goal)
We are always at some stage of this process with whatever we are doing. Once we are aware of it, we can recognise where we are and do what we can to move on.
Principles has given me tools that I use daily when I’m parenting. It’s so important to have strategies in place to make decisions and deal with situations when you’re a dad and this book helps you do that in a big way.
Bonus - Check out the Principles website https://www.principles.com/ There's heaps of content to get stuck in to.
The last book on this list is by no means any less valuable than the others. The opposite is true.
Ryan Holiday is a prolific writer on Stoic Philosophy and The Obstacle is the way is one of my favourites. It’s a short and potent read about turning problems into opportunities and adversity into advantage.
Based on the stoic idea that what is in the way, is the way. The book opens up your perspective on problems and gives you the confidence to push forward when things get tough. Invaluable in fatherhood.
Roadblocks often come up to guide us to what we do next or teach us the lessons we need to learn to move on with our journey.
Somehow my kids already know this, it’s almost inbuilt in their personalities. They see an obstacle, either physical or psychological and they welcome it as if it was meant to be there the whole time.
This perspective needs to be worked on in all of us and will help you keep going when it all seems like too much.
"A book for the bedside of every future - and current - leader in the world. -- Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power and Mastery
An absolute must-read. A kind of user's manual for life, you will turn to it time and time again and learn to tear through any obstacle and resolve any conflict. -- Jimmy Soni, managing editor of Huffington Post, author of Rome's Last Citizen
If you found these books as valuable as I did, send me a message!
See you in the next one x