By SARAH BROWN
CNA staff reporter
Now that you’ve survived baby bootcamp, read ‘What to Expect While You’re Expecting’ and experienced parenting as the subject of your parents’ own trial and error, you think you might have it down.
But, what happens when you encounter an experience that doesn’t necessarily fall into your scope of practice as a newly-trained parent?
A few experienced dads from Creston weigh in and offer their best advice on the different ages and stages of fatherhood.
No need to travel as if you’re transporting a small army.
“Keep it as basic as possible,” said Will Shields. “Anything gadgety and frilly seems necessary because of marketing.”
Shields, whose children are ages 24, 20, 17, 11 and 10, said he would avoid anything that made a lot of noise and was battery operated.
“The most important thing is you in that child’s life,” said Shields. “Not the gadget.”
“It is just such a short window of time the child actually uses it,” said Kevin Cooper, who has two step-children, ages 15, 13 and a 7 year old son.
Safety first is always a good rule of thumb when it comes to child rearing.
Aside from installing that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, Troy Schroeder, owner of Schroeder Plumbing, Heating and Electrical suggests covering all outlets and switches.
“I sometimes see windows that are not secure,” Schroeder said. “A safety gate to the stairwell is also a good one.”
Schroeder has one daughter who graduated from college and one who graduated from high school this year.
Kids are curious and often lack a sense of danger. Crawlers will open every low cupboard or drawer, climbers will scale the bookshelves and curiosity will lead them astray.
It’s not too late to install those wall anchors for the entertainment center or locks for the cabinets.
Corey Latham, whose children are now 13 and 11 years old, recalled a year-long period when his daughter suffered from infantile colic, or excessive crying with no apparent cause.
“The only way to calm her was to drive around every night at 2 a.m.,” said Latham. “We would drive the same route around Creston, and I was even pulled over by the cops once.”
Luckily, Latham’s efforts to soothe his daughter were not thwarted by the police.
“I thought I would get to sleep more,” said Latham. “You have got to have patience.”
Becoming a dad is a major responsibility, and that responsibility was probably learned first at home.
Creston High School social studies teacher Todd Jacobson said owning a family pet was a great way to teach his two sons, ages 13 and 11, about responsibility.
“It also keeps them active,” he said.
Creston True Value manager Zeke Chafa, who has an 8 and 11 year old daughter, said when he takes one out, the other gets upset.
“I’ll take one out this weekend, and the other out next weekend,” said Chafa. “And each week, one is complaining how it’s not fair. It doesn’t matter. They always get what they want. They just don’t realize it.”
Gary Borcherding, who has two adult children and three grandchildren, said he’s amazed at what he learned about his kids when they argued.
“Sit back and listen,” said Borcherding. “There’s always one that can’t keep their mouth shut.”
Advice to ignore
Yes, you will be bombarded by advice, and going forward, you will constantly seek it. But where do you draw the line?
“Grandma means well, but Grandma is not always right,” said Southwestern Community College Maintenance Technician Rick McIntosh. “Things are different today than they were before.”
JP Pokorny, owner of Pokorny BP, said timeouts are the most effective form of discipline for his four daughters, ages 7,5, 3 and 1˝.
“Timeouts are one minute for every year of age,” said Farmers Cooperative location manager Darin Schlapia. “When my son acts up, timeout will be a couple of minutes.”
Good cop, bad cop
What do you do when your parenting style conflicts with your partners?
“Just agree,” Pokorny said with a smile.
Cooper said its important to be consistent and support your partner.
“Support the other—right, wrong or indifferent,” said Cooper. “Until you have time to discuss it.”
“I have a good wife,” said Travis Turner, who has two children, ages 6 and 8 years old. “Listen to her and you’ll be good.”
Kevin Cooper offers advice that any parent, who has ever experienced the cringe-worthy pain of stepping on a Lego block, can relate to.
“Watch where you step,” he said.
Right vs. wrong
“Teach them right from wrong, but let them make mistakes,” said Borcherding.
Borcherding said allowing children to make mistakes allows them the opportunity to correct themselves.
Easiest parenting stage
“They say it gets easier,” said Jacobson. “I’d like to say it doesn’t.”
Jacobson said parenting gets more challenging as children grow older because of new found freedom at school and going to friend’s houses.
“My children have this attitude like they have it all figured out,” said Jacobson. “But, you can’t be on top of them every moment.”
Trust that you’ve done all you can and they will make good decisions.
Relish in it
“Savor every moment that you have with them,” said Rick McIntosh, whose daughters are 23 and 17 years old. “When they move out, you realize what you’ve lost. They are pretty special.”
Jacobson said he remembered thinking he couldn’t wait until his children were out of diapers.
“Slow it down,” said Jacobson. “Enjoy these moments. Life is short.”
Becoming a first-time parent may feel foreign, and at times, uncomfortable, frustrating and confusing. Othertimes, you will inherently know what to do.
A common remark heard by the fathers interviewed was “there is no such thing as a perfect parent.”
“You don’t always have to be perfect, you just have to be there,” he said.
You know best
Whether you are frieghtened out of your mind or excited beyond words, get ready for the unexpected.
Remember, your child is uniquely your own. When that uncertain feeling arrives, you do know best, Dad. You’ll know exactly what to do.