Depending on who you listen to, fatherhood can be an amazing experience or a lifetime of stress and early balding. Comedian Ray Romano once likened having kids to living in a frat house: "Nobody sleeps, everything’s broken and there’s a lot of throwing up.”
All joking aside, parenthood definitely changes you. In honor of Father's Day this month, we asked some new dads about the biggest ways their lives have changed since their kids came along. Here are their heart-melting responses.
“I remember one moment that transformed my outlook on fatherhood. It was about 2:30 a.m. on a weeknight after I'd worked into the evening and had to wake up early the next day. I was not interested in the inconvenience my 3-year-old was creating by crying for me at that hour. I grumpily got out of bed, stormed upstairs with a bad daditude, opened the door to his room and said, “What do you want, son?!” His answer profoundly changed my life and the kind of man I wanted to be and teach my children to be. He said, “I just wanted to kiss you." My whole perspective has changed because of the lessons my kids have taught me — of love, forgiveness and acceptance.” — Dylan, 25, Dallas, Texas
“Since I became a dad just a few weeks ago, I've become more hands-on and helpful with my wife. I feel bad that I cannot breastfeed or calm our daughter down in the middle of the night, so I've stepped up in other ways. I also never thought I would be OK with changing diapers, but I took it seriously in the hospital and learned how, and now whenever I'm home, that's my duty. As far as work, I'm more motivated than ever to grow my PR business… It's hard to pinpoint exactly, but it feels like I'm the same person, but more mature, responsible and on top of things.” — Warren, 29, Englewood, New Jersey
So much love
“Fatherhood has shown me what true love really is. Every day, being a father teaches me the meaning of unconditional acceptance and compassion. It also makes me realize that matters I felt were so important, like my career and climbing the corporate ladder, do not seem so relevant anymore. [Joseph] comes first in my life. [As a single dad,] I owe the staff at RMANJ fertility clinic who made fatherhood a reality for me so much for bringing Joseph into my life and helping me to become a better human being each and every day.” — Tom, 47, Edina, Minnesota
“Fatherhood gives you a new take on life. Especially if you have a child at a younger age, it makes you take life more seriously! It makes you kinder, wiser, and gives you the ability to think at a greater distance — short-term thinking versus long-term thinking. My kids have helped me achieve patience, which we millennials don't usually have much of.” — Chrystopher, 24, Houston, Texas
An investment in the greater good
“My son, who just turned a year old, was born at the apex of a tumultuous election. [Fatherhood] opened my eyes to how central political action must be in the lives of all Americans. I realized that I'd taken so much for granted before. Now, outside of work and parenting, I'm spending time reaching out to my congressional representatives, marching and donating to the ACLU and other causes. I want my son to grow up in a country that takes his education seriously, that is taking active steps toward protecting the environment and that will preserve the American identity of a nation of immigrants. That's the country I want him to grow up in and I'm doing everything I can to secure that for him.” — Heath, 39, Brooklyn, New York
“It’s easy to be carefree, spend frivolously and take 'safe' jobs when all you have to worry about is yourself, but as soon as you become a father, another life is completely dependent on you and your choices. As a single father especially, I felt motivated to not only provide for my son, but to be as present in his life as I could. I left my 'safe' 9-to-5 job waiting tables in order to run my business full time. Five years later, that business is thriving, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to set a flexible schedule to spend as much time with my son as possible.” — Adam, 35, Manahawkin, New Jersey
“Before I had a kid, I could have dinner at whatever time I wanted, visit friends as soon as they called or see movies at the drop of a hat, but now I look at the world with my son in mind. It matters how late I stay up now because regardless of what time I get into bed, I know he's going to be awake at 6 a.m. on the dot. I drive more cautiously because I don’t know what I’d do if he got hurt. I even watch hours of Baby Einstein regardless of how mind-numbing it is. Even though all he does it take from me — my time, my energy, my attention, my money — I’m happy to do it! I’ve learned how to be selfless in a way that I have never known.” — Trevor, 28, Salt Lake City, Utah
"I have two children under the age of 3. Since I also run my own business, the biggest change in my priorities is a much greater emphasis on time-management than before I had kids. I want to make sure I have enough time to devote to spending quality time with my children, wife and my business. This means I have to be much more conscious of how and where I'm spending every minute and ensuring I'm making the most of every minute." — David, 38, Manhattan, New York
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