Jason Kreidman doesn’t want fatherhood to be lonely or mysterious. The gung-ho Encinitas, California-based father of two was happy after the birth of his kids — eager to provide the sort of stable home that he had as a child. But as he started to do the real work of parenting, he began to question his assumptions and attitudes, concluding that fatherhood might not come naturally and that he would need to interrogate his own behavior to remain a consistent, stable presence in his children’s lives. The question, naturally, was this: How can a committed dad take action?
Kreidman founded a support group for fathers and started reading widely, seeking out expert advice and credible information on how best to serve his kids and his wife and himself all at the same time. Eager to share his learnings with the public, he started Dad University, a weekly video series offering insights and spoilers for men making the transition to fatherhood and preparing or struggling to shoulder all the responsibility that comes with the gig. The videos feature Kreidman’s impassioned takes on an encyclopedic range of issues that dads have to confront and (hopefully) handle.
Dad University (like Fatherly) matters because the dialogue on fatherhood has long been limited to jokes and sitcom cliches. The reality? Being a dad — a really good dad — is complicated and men need help learning the skills necessary to communicate effectively with their children and plan for the long-term wellbeing of your family. The best way to learn? Sit at the feet of someone who has been there or share the experience with friends and peers. The internet might be a nightmare, but it’s also a good forum for those conversations.
Dad University smartly surveys the issues that affect fathers, offering object lessons and reassurance. And, watching the videos, it’s hard not to share Kreidman’s enthusiasm for raising happy and healthy kids in a happy and healthy environment. He’s an upbeat guy who clearly feels thankful for the responsibilities he’s been blessed to have and is meeting all challenges head-on. He’s not lonely and there’s nothing mysterious about what he’s doing. He’s doing his best with a little help from his friends.
Here are some of Kreidman’s most powerful lessons.
Kreidman walks expecting and new dads through some of the issues and revelations of the early years. Reinforcing the idea that building bonds takes work, Kreidman reassures fathers that though overwhelming love and the selflessness it inspires can be hard to handle at first, everything gets comfy — and warm — after a while.
The big surprise, the one that Kreidman dwells on, is that parenting doesn’t always come naturally. This takes many men — specifically men who had good parents — by surprise. They expect to know what to do after the baby arrives or to be able to rely on some sort of instinct honed over millennia. Dad reflexes are kind of a thing, but perfectly honed dad instincts are not. It’s worth dwelling on.
Getting Through the Tough Times
Kreidman reminds new fathers that children are not an inoculation against personal distress, whether that arrives in the form of relationship, financial, or psychological problems. He urges men to proactive in the face of discomfort, to acknowledge their own limitation, seek support, and attempt to empower themselves to be great caregivers for themselves.
At the end of the day, dads need to be there for their families. That’s only possible if their brains and bodies are in working order. And, let’s be real here, that takes a bit of work and a ton of maintenance. Kreidman makes a convincing case for being zealous about mental health and for creating a powerful and reliable support system.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Father
Kreidman makes it clear that though finding time to build a career and take care of children is difficult, it is doable. He also reminds his audience that it’s important to set reasonable expectations and to take some personal time. Running from pillar to post is no way to live life and no way to parent. It’s important to have a strategy as well as good intentions.
Sex After Kids
Sex is a big part of many men’s personal identities and it can be a very real struggle when access to sexual experiences (or just contact with a partner) is limited by a new child or simply by time constraints. Kreidman points out that dads need to be patient and that partner communication is key. Is there sex after kids? Sure, but you have to work to get there in ways that can be new and difficult.
Saving Money as a New Dad
Being a dad is, if nothing else, a wildly expensive adventure. Kreidman provides his followers with some tips and does some expectation setting. The cost of raising children in America is outrageous so it’s best to start planning immediately and spend some time sweating the details.
Like sports, parenting is all about avoiding unforced errors. But before you can avoid making mistakes, you have to know what the mistakes are. Some are obvious (don’t be a jerk in front of the kid); others aren’t. Telling a kid you’re proud of them constantly seems like a good idea. As Kreidman points out, it isn’t. The better approach is to help kids build self-worth. So make a plan and stick to it.