Fathers Reveal The Advice That Actually Worked For Them, Noting 'There's No Such Thing As A Perfect Dad'

"A dad is born nine months before a baby is born."

Every dad has his own style of parenting and ideas on how to best raise kids, and advice on the matter comes from every direction, solicited or not. But while it's easy to get fed up with the overflow of information, sometimes it can be helpful to keep a few well-meaning words of wisdom in your pocket from those who have been through it. 

That's why we've pulled together the advice some dads — including Barack Obama, James Corden, and Ryan Reynolds — say have actually worked for them in one way or another: from dealing with making mistakes, to understanding the importance of showing love and affection, to simply being able to laugh at the absurd situations you'll find yourself in as a dad, these 11 pieces of advice are true gems. 

And if you're a new father or a father-to-be getting ready to change countless diapers, bandage scraped knees, and fight monsters under the bed, these tips will hopefully be extra helpful. 


1. "A dad is born nine months before a baby is born. The job starts when the pregnancy test displays a plus sign."

After countless interviews with "OB-GYNs, couples and family counselors, child psychiatrists, neonatal nurses, teachers, EMTs, nutritionists, sex experts, celebrities and everyday moms and dads,"  Parenting.com writer Shawn Bean says this is one piece of advice most agreed on. There is a lot of preparation to do in those nine months, mental and otherwise. 

2. "The important thing is to just not take on too many things."

This advice from James Corden shows, like anything in life, fatherhood is a balancing act. He added,  "I try to have at least a day or two days a week where I'm not at work. That's the important thing — to be around."

3. "My father told me that the best way to love my children was to openly express my love for my wife."

One dad passed on this sage piece of wisdom to Baby Center. He explained, "The fruits of these words are sent forth with every unselfish act, kind word, and expression of love that comes from my children." You may not think about it at first, but it is key.

4. "If you’re going to make a mistake, err on the side of spending too much time at home rather than too much time at the office."

One father offered up this "dadvice" on Fathers.com. His simple reasoning was, "You can never get back the time."

5. "A sense of humor [is] required."

A father-of-six told the Art of Manliness this important lesson. Sometimes you may not feel like laughing, but it will help. It is much better than getting annoyed. You can find humor in almost any situation.

6. "Just remember: YOU CAN DO THIS."

Sometimes it might not feel like it, but one dad blogger reassured other fathers on the Huffington Post that they can. He explained, "And you know what, you can do this better than anything you have ever done before. Be proud, be loving — BE DAD!"

7. "You give them unconditional love, and then you give them some structure and some rules."

This quote by Barack Obama shows that fatherhood isn't just about balancing time, it is also about finding the right mix of love and discipline. He added, "They usually turn out really, really well."

8. "Be affectionate with your baby, especially as they get older."

Author Scott Kelby told Parents.com about how important expressing love to your little ones is. He points out, "Kids need love, but they don't understand the word 'love' on any level." However, they do understand what those hugs, kisses, and cuddles mean.

9. "Just do the dirty work, man."

Father-of-two Ryan Reynolds said these words to Seth Myers, regarding how important it is to roll up your sleeves and get involved. He elaborated, "You gotta do the diapers, you gotta do the middle-of-the-night thing ... a human being will exit your wife, she's done enough."

10. "Just have patience."

One dad offered up this advice to My Mommy Vents. He explained, "When you find yourself getting to that point when you want to yell or you feel frustrated, just remember when you were that age." It can be difficult to remember in the heat of the moment, but taking a breather will help.

11. "You'll make mistakes. There's no such thing as being a perfect father. And it's OK."

One of the top pieces of advice dads gave us when we asked for parenting tips was that there is no such thing as being a "perfect" father. There is no such thing as being a "perfect" anything. So, don't stress about it. You'll mess up sometimes, but you'll learn from those experiences the most.

Cover image via Valeriya Anufriyeva I Shutterstock

A Plus' Project Dad content is inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul's Project Dad, a television series about the joy of fatherhood and family.


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