Be a Resilient Dad

Becoming a Resilient Dad will prepare you for the marathon of parenthood

Resilience? Yep, that’s right. Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. In plain English, it means you are tough and gentle. For our lesson, we will review common techniques on how to quickly overcome difficult situations and bounce back into action. Why is this important? In your first week home with your baby – you will not get any sleep…and that’s just the beginning….enough meandering, let’s get started and figure out how to become a Resilient Dad!

Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations – you want to be a resilient Dad

Lesson 1: Fight or Flight – choose a path

Adrenaline is the thing that kept us from being eaten by ancient tigers as cavemen but now it’s the thing that pumps through us before meetings, during our commute, and during other benign situations. Sure, it will be there if there really is a problem but modern times have changed our benchmark of when it’s actually needed. This can cause us to be in constant fight or flight mode. That’s not always a bad thing, but you need to be able to determine which one is right.

Resiliency can be built by recognizing when it’s ok to quit. Yes, you read that right. People who survive life or death situations are often alive because they recognized a bad situation and were able to bail out early. We aren’t suggesting that if your baby is crying that you quit. However, can you put the baby down in a safe place, take a few deep breaths, and then try again? You will be mentally more prepared, have better patience, and even be able to connect with your baby who just needs your help.  

Sometimes quitting is a good thing – like if you are upset from your crying baby, find a safe place to put her gently down and ask for help

Lesson 2: Accept your feelings

Let’s face it, as men, we haven’t exactly been encouraged to accept our feelings or to even have feelings. Keep a straight face, swallow your reaction, don’t let them see you sweat. The problem with this is that if you cannot accept what you are even feeling, there is no way to have room to work through it and if you are not able to work through it, you cannot find a solution.

For instance, you may find yourself upset that the baby seems to prefer your wife over you. You have been waiting for almost a year to meet this person and now they are clinging to mom all the time. Not only is it untrue that the baby “prefers” mom, it is absolutely ok to be sad about this. Try telling yourself “I am sad that the baby does not seem to like me right now but it is only a phase.”

Whichever emotion comes up – whether you are angry, or sad, or frustrated – admit to yourself your true feelings and accept it. Once you have accepted your emotions, you are ready to move on to the next step.

It is only when you have accepted your emotions will you be ready to move on to resolving your difficult situation. Do not bottle up your emotions or ignore them. It will only become worse if you do that

Lesson 3: Think about ideas on how to resolve your difficult situation 

Brainstorming is a great way to get through a hard time. Life is like a science experiment except all the variables are uncontrolled and sometimes a mad scientist just throws more variables in during the middle of the experiment. What worked one time may never work again. What did not work before may work this time. Each child and family are different and have their own unique ways and needs. Just because your friend is able to get this baby to sleep through the night at eight weeks does not make you a bad parent if your baby needs a few more cuddles at night.

Just because your friend has an easier time with their baby does not mean you are a bad parent. Every situation is different. Accept that

If you wanted to come up with a new product or process at work, you would gather a couple of subject matter experts and write down every way you might fix it. No idea is bad -just think about it, list them out, and write them down. Ultimately, you want whatever is best. This applies to your family as well. You’re on your way to becoming a resilient dad, keep going!

Lesson 4: Pick a potential solution and execute it

During your brainstorming you might come up with several ideas. A few probably floated to the top that are more viable than others. Once you have them, you need to pick one and start executing. If you are waiting for a crisis or issue to resolve itself, you are only adding stress to the situation. By acting to come to a solution, you are making steps toward being active in the outcome and working on the solution will help you feel more in control.

More complicated issues will have a lot of steps to come to resolution. Do not get bogged down in how far you have to go but focus on how successful you have been in what has been accomplished already. Don’t give up. If it fails, accept your feelings of failure and then have the hope that you are now one step closer to the answer.  You have a whole list of other possibilities that might work and at the very least, you know what will not work now. Eventually, you will find a solution or accept your situation, and that’s ok, too.

Failure means you are one step closer to success. Do not give up, instead try again

Lesson 5: Keep working on your skills

Being a resilient dad is going to take time so do not get discouraged if you are still having trouble coping with difficult situations. Fatherhood is a life-altering event and you should not expect to suddenly become a master at a completely new skill. You have worked on your career for a long time to get where you are and this will be no different.

Characteristics of resilient people include:

  • A sense of control
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Strong social connections
  • Identifying as a survivor and not a victim
  • Being able to ask for help

Do you know other dads? Connecting with them to talk about your struggles may seem uncomfortable at first, but as they say, there are no new problems. Dads who have “been there, done that” can offer a pat on the back to let you know that you will get through it. They may also be able to help you brainstorm those solutions that you need. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – quite the opposite. Accepting when you are not the expert and being able to switch into a learner’s mind will help you find the best solution for your family. One day you will be the one giving the advice instead and others will recognize your resilience and ability to handle any situation.

Let’s wrap this up

By going through these steps on difficult situations you encounter, you are training your brain to not only accept and be at peace with the situation you are in, but you are also training your brain to be solution-oriented. Remember that nothing in this world worth achieving is easy. When you are coding, understanding business requirements, managing a project, or researching something difficult at work, you don’t succeed the first time, right? It is only after years and years of practice do you get really good at it.  The most important thing to get out of this is that you now have a solution-oriented mindset.

So don’t give up. Accept your feelings. Brainstorm solutions. Execute. Repeat as needed. We’re rooting for you, resilient Dad.


For more information on resilience, check out some of the articles below

A message from your future Resilient Dad Self

Hey there. You know the drill, this is where I motivate you to take it to the next level right? So what are you waiting for stud? Yeah, I know, it is difficult to be a resilient Dad. With all of the crap life throws at you – lack of sleep, upset wife, crying baby, work deadlines, crappy boss, they all happen at the same time don’t they?

It’s time to stop the cycle. It’s time to get out of the firefight and start charting a course for resiliency. Try our technique and do it on small things first, before taking on bigger challenges. I know you are successful at work and you most likely follow these steps outlined here when you encounter a difficult situation right? Your successes at work can translate to success at home, just apply our 5 principles and you will be that much closer to becoming resilient to the challenges you face at home.

Till our next lesson tough guy. In the meantime, dad on!

Your Future Resilient Dad Self

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