There is more to the world of parenting books than just What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
While those kinds of reference books can be invaluable to those expecting their first baby — and also pants-wettingly terrifying — they only address certain aspects of what it really means to be a parent.
Also, speaking from my own personal experience, most parenting books tend to be focused solely on the mother, which … I get. I do. I will not in any way try to argue that becoming a parent is equally hard for women and men. My personal transition into parenting was difficult, but it didn’t involve words like “gestation” or “mucus plug,” so, yes, moms win the “who had it harder” debate hands-down.
That said, it doesn’t mean things are easy for dads, so, because parenting books can be such a lifeline to nervous new parents, I think it’s wonderful when there are books out there for men that really speak to the “dad experience” specifically.
I thought I’d collect this list of wonderful books about both the logistics and the emotions of becoming a dad. If you know a nervous father-to-be, trust me, they will find some solace — or at least some commiseration — in these pages.
Becoming a dad is a BIG lifestyle change for most men, so Chris Pegula has put together a fast, fun guide to help men make it through the baby years without freaking out. Pegula started the Diaper Dude brand, which makes dad-friendly baby products — speaking from experience, it’s SO nice to be able to buy a diaper bag now that doesn’t look like a big purse — and his message of how to become a father without losing one’s self-identity will speak to anxious soon-to-be dads everywhere.
This book is just lovely. Bussola is an Italian illustrator and his book collects a series of brief, interconnected thoughts about fatherhood, all inspired by his experiences with his three daughters. His remembrances are funny, perceptive, and incredibly insightful. If a man wants to have an idea, a real idea of what it will feel like to become a father, Sleepless Nights will do the trick — Bussola’s voice reads like a candid best friend who takes you out for a drink and tells you, “Okay, this is what fatherhood is really like…”
This collection of essays from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay prompts some fascinating discussions about fatherhood and so much more. Chabon’s beautifully detailed prose bounces between memories of his own childhood and his musings on what it means to be a man (and a father) in modern society. His honest reflections on manliness, trying to act like an adult, and how society holds mothers to a higher standard than fathers should be essential reading for any guy caught in the existential crisis of “OMG, I’m doing to be a dad soon.”
There’s not just one path to becoming a father anymore. That point is made abundantly (and hilariously) clear in this memoir by Jerry Mahoney, the writer behind the popular Mommy Man blog. Once Mahoney and his partner decide they want children, they’re forced to ask themselves, “Just how do two gay men become dads?” They eventually land on surrogacy and their adventure to see their surrogate’s pregnancy through to the end is equal parts hysterically funny and surprisingly touching. Just a wonderful, uproarious story about the lengths some men travel to become a father.
The Parents' Phrase Book: Hundreds of Easy, Useful Phrases, Scripts, and Techniques for Every Situation
Honea, an award-winning parenting writer, has put together an invaluable resource for dads (heck, any parent) everywhere. He cast a critical eye at those sensitive, awkward moments that every parent experiences and compiled an ingenious guidebook about what you should actually say when those moments arise. Because it’s one thing to think about what’s going to happen when your child asks about sex for the first time or what would happen if you caught them in a lie, but, in the moment, how do you know the right thing to say to handle the situation as a sensitive, empathetic parent (without letting your kid walk all over you)? Fortunately, this book offers easy-to-remember templates and scripts that will help you navigate those moments with ease.
Richards’s blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, has been a viral sensation and, in this book, he attempts something really ambitious — he tries to bridge the understanding gap between mothers and fathers. He speaks directly to mothers, asking them to extend some empathy to new dads, while at the same time, making sure that the moms are not enabling or excusing completely unacceptable behavior. It offers guidance and support to dads who are trying to make parenting work, but also makes sure that mothers (and society as a whole) are holding new dads to realistic standards. It’s heady stuff, but told in an entertaining, enlightening way that can’t be ignored.
Be the Coolest Dad on the Block: All of the Tricks, Games, Puzzles, and Jokes You Need to Impress Your Kids (and Keep Them Entertained for Years to Come!)
People have certain expectations of dads. If you’re a dad, you need to know how to burp the alphabet; how to sing fun, inappropriate songs around a campfire; or how to tell the perfect “dad joke.” You also need to be able to hold yourself up as an authority on every topic known to man and, if you don’t know something, you need to be able to fake it until another adult who knows better shows up. But where do you learn all that? Fortunately, this book can help — Be the Coolest Dad on the Block offers an irreverent, engaging guide to how dads can reach their ultimate dad-ness and become the most fun father in their neighborhood.
When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood
Trying to prepare yourself to become a father is a difficult experience. You can buy all the stuff and read all of the “how to” guides, but the emotional aspect of fatherhood … how do you prepare for that? One way — and, in my opinion, the best way — is by listening to other fathers tell their stories about what the experience meant for them. When I First Held You is an amazing resource for dads looking for those kinds of stories. Editor Brian Gresko has assembled 22 personal narratives from a selection of hugely talented writers — including Dennis Lehane, Lev Grossman, Andre Dubus III, Rick Moody, and more — who all do a beautiful job of bringing that emotional reality of becoming a dad to life.
Ben Falcone is a hilarious actor, comedian, and director — you might remember him as the air marshal from “Bridesmaids,” as the director of “The Boss,” or as the husband of comedy legend Melissa McCarthy — but he’s also a dad and guess what? Being a dad is weird. In this fantastic memoir, Falcone tells stories linking his adventures as the dad of two girls to his own childhood and his relationship with his dad Steve, who had an unconventional approach to parenting. If you know a dad who wonders if their father influenced the way they parent, they’ll love this book.
Read any other great books for dads? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!