Once upon a time, being a dad was easy. You had a couple kids, went to work, and left your wife in charge of the household. Times have changed, and as men, we’re expected to step it up at home and take our parenting responsibilities seriously. And honestly, that’s a good thing. Studies show that kids do better when dads are actively involved in their lives. Unfortunately, literature is still catching up with changes in society, and many of the parenting books on the market are still targeted towards moms. As a dad who wants to be active in his kids’ lives, here are 10 parenting books you’ll enjoy reading.
What to Expect When She’s Expecting
What To Expect When You’re Expecting is one of the go-to pregnancy books on the market, taking women through pregnancy and the first couple months of baby’s life. While there are a couple pages in the book that tell the woman to “mark this and have your husband read it,” the book is largely targeted towards women. What to Expect When She’s Expecting is the male equivalent of the book. With a taste of humor worked into its pages, it tells you what to expect from your wife over the next nine months while also acknowledging your very real emotions and fears during this transition period. As guys, we don’t like to talk about how scary it can be to watch our wives change into strangers while waiting to meet children we can’t begin to dream of. What to Expect When She’s Expecting will help you acknowledge those feelings and work through them before your little one gets here.
Babies and Other Hazards of Sex
Granted, this one’s a little dated, but Dave Berry’s comic genius stands the test of time. If you’re the kind of guy who likes to keep a sense of humor about parenting, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex is a fun read. The parenting advice is the sort you should take with a grain of salt. But if you’re looking for a parenting book from the perspective of a down-to-earth Dad—the sort of book that makes you laugh and think “yeah, okay, at least I’m not alone in this journey”—this is the one for you.
The Baby Owner’s Manual
Kids don’t come with an owner’s manual… unless you buy this book. Less of a joke than you’d think based on the title, this book is really useful for guys who weren’t expected to be proactive dads growing up. It has detailed diagrams of things you need help with but feel dumb asking about—like how to swaddle a baby properly. And while kids are never as predictable as this book would lead you to believe, it can help you figure out the “basics” that, as men, we were never taught.
The New Dad’s Survival Guide
This book covers pregnancy, birth, and early babyhood. If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t like reading a lot of psycho-babble—if you prefer a gritty, down-to-earth instruction book of what to expect and what to do when—you’ll love this book. It’s not overly scientific, but is an easy, comprehensive read that you’ll enjoy even if you’re a guy who’s not really big on reading.
Calm the F*** Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need
Whether your preferred phrase is “don’t sweat the small stuff” or “pick your battles,” the truth is that parenting is a whole lot of choosing when to discipline your kids and when to just let them be. Unlike some of the other joke books, this one provides not only witty compassion for parents struggling through some of parenting’s hardest moments, but also advice from experts on how to get through those moments. More often than not, though, the best advice is “wait—this too, shall pass.” If you’re the kind of guy who struggles with not being in control, parenting will be a struggle. This book will help.
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
There’s nothing quite like the relationship between dads and their daughters. Daughters who have strong relationships with their dads have been shown to have higher self-esteem and make better relationship choices, among other boons. Unfortunately, it can be hard for dads to connect to their daughters, especially if their daughters are “girly girls” and the dads are “manly men.” So how do you bridge that gap? Written specifically with this bond in mind, pediatrician Meg Meeker helps you figure it out.
Better Dads, Stronger Sons
The relationship between dads and their sons used to be limited to dads teaching their sons how to shave or encouraging their sons to take on the family business. Like other parent/child relationships, the relationships between dads and their sons are evolving. But what do you do when your son isn’t how you imagined he’d be? This book helps men increase their self-confidence as dads and learn how to teach young boys to become men of character.
Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad
We all know that pregnancy is hard on the woman. It’s hard on the man, too, not least because he spends nine months walking on eggshells around his wife. You don’t have to be that guy. This book will help you figure out what to do—and, importantly, what not to do—while your wife is pregnant. Avoid saying the things that will leave her sobbing on the bathroom floor during her pregnancy, and learn how to continue growing your marriage while dealing with the mystical bump that seems to be growing between the two of you.
Toddlers Are A**holes
If you thought parenting a baby was hard, you clearly didn’t know anything about the toddler years. It’s easy to take toddlerhood—and the many associated tantrums—personally, seeing your child’s behavior as a reflection of your parenting failures. This book will give you a little perspective and a whole lot of laughter. Because toddlers are jerks, and yours is no different, but when you see how developmentally normal it is, you’ll start resenting it a little less and finding humor in it a little more.
Based on a webcomic by the same name, the Fowl Language books use drawing of ducks to illustrate what it’s like to be a dad today. It’s not necessarily full of words of wisdom. But as you take 5 minutes alone in the bathroom, it can give you a smile and the reassurance of knowing you’re not alone in this mess.
There’s being a dad, and then there’s being a good dad. Unfortunately, as the expectations we have of dads have grown, so have our feelings of failure and inadequacy. It’s hard to know if you’re doing a good job, especially if your father wasn’t the hands-on sort of dad you’re trying to be. These books can help you both learn the skills you need to be a good dad and find the perspective to realize that no dad is perfect, but that as long as you’re working to improve every day and be the best dad you can be, you’ll be fine—and so will your kids.