When my wife approached me about writing an article about raising children, I jumped at the opportunity for two reasons. First, no one ever gets to hear the dad's side of the story. Second, I am a bottom-line person so I promise to keep this short, sweet and to the point. To accomplish these goals, I outline three essential child-raising principles that will lead to absolute success.
Principle one: Do not be the first one to drop your child.
Let this milestone be accomplished by your wife or, better yet, the grandparents. You simply don't want to be "that guy" - it is all downhill from that point. After the drop, you start hearing stories such as, "remember that time you dropped our kid" or "remember when little Timmy got his first concussion when you dropped him?"
Photo submitted by MEGAN ELISABETH PHOTOGRAPHY
Aaron Bingaman sits with his daughter, Genesis.
To prevent a drop, always maintain two points of contact with your child at all times (three is better). And under no circumstances should you allow your wife to trick you into migrating to one point of contact. Women are designed to have the magical ability to handle a child with one hand. Men are not designed this way so don't try it.
In addition, if you are going to throw your child in the air - because that is what men do - make sure you can catch. This sounds like an elementary principle; however, when your child is in mid-flight is not the time to remember that you lack hand-eye coordination. Furthermore, higher doesn't automatically mean cooler. It may look cooler, but if you bounce the child off of the ceiling, no matter how slight the bump, no one wins. Even if you catch them, you still lose. Keep the flight low and catch with two hands while keeping both eyes on the baby. Under no circumstances should you try a behind-the-back catch. Save these kind of moves for a baseball or Frisbee.
Principle two: Show your wife you are man enough to watch your kid alone.
There is nothing more terrifying than the first time you are left alone, no matter how long, with your baby. This is a make-it or break-it moment. You've got to put your big boy pants on and dive in with both feet! Youtube, WebMD or phone-a-friend before you call your wife for help. Your wife is anticipating the whole event falling apart, so under no circumstances should you call and acknowledge defeat!
In addition, when it comes to putting on a diaper, there is a wrong way, a right way and dad's way. Remember that the poop can, does and will ride up their back, so pretend you are landing an airplane and put the flaps out at all times. Furthermore, make sure the diaper fits securely and if the unfortunate happens, a little Vic's vapor rub under the nose takes care of the worst smells. If the diaper looks like a child's finger painting, there is always the option of the backyard hose.
Principle three: No death, injury, or major trauma on your watch.
This is fairly simple. Like principle one, you don't want to be the first on anything when it comes to the safety of your child. I remember our daughter's first minor goose egg was on my wife's watch, and I could not have felt more relieved. I literally said, "Thank God!" Everyone expects bumps and bruises to be caused by dad just because guys aren't always thinking about the consequences of their actions. We do first and then our wives tell us how we should think more before we participate in the doing portion of our ideas.
Women, on the other hand, just have this aura about them like a sixth sense when it comes to raising children. For example, my wife just knows where my daughter is at all times. I, on the other hand, have to actually remember that I am supposed to be watching her. I will be working in the yard and all of a sudden, I will remember that I am on daddy duty and panic kicks in until I look around and realize my daughter is playing behind me.
To be successful at raising a child, always remember the above outlined principles. They will make you look like a hero to your wife and child and keep your name out of the baby book under embarrassing stories, courtesy of dad.
Aaron Bingaman lives in Mifflintown with his wife, Katie, and 20-month-old daughter, Genesis. He is the commonwealth planning manager at Penn State University and an adjunct professor at Kaplan University.