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How to Be a Great Young Father

Gary started his parenthood journey at 20 years old. He now lives separated from his wife and enjoys 50/50 custody of his two children.

I became a young dad at 20 years old. Here's how to do it well.

I became a young dad at 20 years old. Here's how to do it well.

What Is A Young Father?

The first question I had to ask myself when sitting down to write this article was, ‘what constitutes a young father?’ I know I am one because that is what everybody calls me. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a young father is based on the people that surround you, and is usually a man under 24. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and while thousands of children are conceived by accident each year, we all have the choice to grow up or not and face the responsibilities of parenthood.

Whether you are a father by choice or not, you are now a dad, and it’s time to step up! This article will detail the highs, lows, and important parts of being a father, although I can tell you right now there really aren’t any lows.

I will be covering common events such as breaking up with the mother, having unstable work and living conditions, and linking you to another article of mine about budgeting your family money. Hopefully, with these two articles combined, you’ll be able to move out if you haven’t already (if necessary) and provide a stable environment for your little beauty.

Now, onto the good stuff! I myself was only 20 years old when my daughter was born, although, granted, I have been with the mother for over five years, we were living together and financially stable. By rights, I have been an adult since I was 16, when I decided to go out to work and get my own house.

In The Event Of A Breakup

I feel it necessary to cover this very real possibility because we are young, and sometimes things happen that seem right at the time, and then as time passes you realize that you are not 100% right for each other. This does not in any way mean that your child was a mistake, and despite the snorts and downwards looks you will get from the ‘oldies,’ it could happen to anyone of any age. I don’t personally believe in ‘staying together for the kids,’ as it almost always results in a hostile environment, a place that incidentally is not nice for your child to be raised.

You’re young, breakups happen. Yes, it is very sad that you now have to see your child only on certain days, but it is important to remember that it is not the fault of the mother entirely. It may not be her fault at all! I don’t know, I’m just trying to lay it all out there. Either way, you are both adults, and it’s now time to prove it. Civility is not some ancient Chinese secret that is only handed down through generations, it is an inherent part of becoming a grown-up. And the fact is, if you remain civil, and remember the parts of the relationship that made the two of you tolerate each other, you can have a really great setup.

It Doesn't Just Have to Be Weekends

Often fathers only get weekends with the children, but that is not necessarily the case for you. If you have a job with a regular income, a roof over your head and the means to feed your little daughter or son, the mother should be more than happy for you to take your child off her hands midweek every now and then. Remember that if you two aren’t down each other's throats and trying to hurt one and other, you needn’t go through courts and the usual processes. Oftentimes, fathers will fly off the handle and go on some uncalled-for rampage, only resulting in distancing themselves from the chance at a normal livelihood for you and your children. Do not be a victim to your own anger.

With that said and covered, I’m going to continue the article as if you are with the mother of your child, and can now be read by any father, young or not. Please bear in mind that if you and the mother are not together anymore, the rest of the details in this article will remain important to you. A steady home and a regular income are necessities for all parents wanting to give their children the best start in life.

A Regular Income & a Stable Home

Now this may sound very daunting to you, and believe me, it is possibly the hardest part of becoming an adult, but it's something we all go through, whether we are 16 or 36. The importance of a job is paramount. You need to support your family the best way you can, even if that means going out and mowing your neighbor’s lawns.

What I intend to bring to you now, is the fact that work is out there if you go after it. Out of thousands of houses in your area, I can promise you that at least 10% of them are looking for workers to do one thing or another. It’s time to take responsibility and get out there knocking on doors, offering all you can. You can clean, you can cut grass, you can pick up dog droppings for all I care! I’ve done it! Literally all of the above, along with decorating jobs, digging flowerbeds out and a whole array of other services.

Put Yourself Out There to Find Stable Work

The fact is that you have to put yourself out there to get anything back. Jobs don’t fall into your lap out of nowhere. Get yourself down to temp agencies and let them help you with a CV, and don’t stop selling yourself until you have something stable. Make sure every job you get put into is a job that you excel in, go above and beyond to impress your superiors and keep applying for full-time positions. The world is your oyster.

A Stable Home

A stable home is a different matter entirely, and unfortunately, we can’t always have what we want. Due to the recession, and many other things (government enforcers driving around in Bentleys and Mercedes) most of us ‘young families’ will never afford to buy our own home. Yes, this is sad, but it is life. If you cannot save at least 20% of your house price for a deposit, it is highly unlikely you’ll get a mortgage. But renting is a viable option and, in most cases, the only option. Shop around, trawl through hundreds of brochures and webpages until you find the most sensible, practical home for your budget.

Of course, there is nothing stopping you putting your name down on the affordable housing list. There is no shame in admitting that you just can not afford it, grown men have tried and failed. That is not to say that you don’t still apply all of the above advice!

This is where I link you to my budget article, Managing-the-family-money. This really is an in depth article involving your family budget and contains a few easy tips to save as much money as possible.

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Oh, hell no. Your happy, sensitive little child does not want to wake up with Weetabix and a banging headache because you and your girlfriend/ wife are screaming at each other over who left the bathroom light on. Any arguments, any arguments, should be left until your child is out of earshot, and really should be eliminated entirely.

Communicating in a calm, productive manner is far more beneficial to both you as a person, and the two of you as a couple, aside from the huge benefits to the entire family. And just think, what are you teaching your child when your shouting and throwing your weight around? That that behavior is acceptable?

You Are Still A Couple

You have crossed the barrier and become parents, but you are still a couple. Remember what you did to create that little miracle cuddling you all day? That doesn’t have to stop now, It just slows down a little. Granted, we can’t walk around randy as two goats anymore, and of course we can't just get at it whenever we feel like it, but believe me, from experience, it helps to have a bit of together time without your little one.

While your baby is really young, you may not be able to get much time together alone, and I know first hand that it is very nerve racking to leave them even with family, but once you allow time you’ll not remember how you got by with out it. Every Wednesday night my parents look after our little Lily, and we have a date night. We talk about our weeks while we eat dinner, sit down and watch a movie and generally just share each other’s company. We’ve not yet left her overnight, and I think that is a long way off, but we go and pick her up at around 10PM. Lily’s happy because she’s had a little adventure, we’re happy because we’ve spent some time together, and we’re all around much better off when we get to pick her up and smother her in cuddles!

If you're always tired, chances are you're doing it right!

If you're always tired, chances are you're doing it right!

Spending Time With Your Little One

And finally, It is very important that your child gets a few things in his/ her early years:

  • Quality time with the mother.
  • Quality time with both parents.
  • Quality time with the father.

This sort of goes without saying, but if your child never spends time with just you on your own, it'll create every time it has to be. I take my little one for regular walks, and play with her while mommy has a bath. She doesn’t ask for much, she just wants to know who to call Daddy. And in all honesty its great to be able to play with your child for more than five minutes before she reaches out for mommy cuddles!

All in all being a Dad is not that difficult, and its just the transition between carefree one minute and full of responsibility the next that can throw us off guard. My biggest advice to you is just to let it happen, and become a dad. Your friends may mock you when you say no to the pub, or you may sometimes not get invited at all, but you can be comfortable in the fact that you have something to be proud of. Not only that, but you have better things than alcohol to spend your money on. Your little baby.

'The young will stay young until they allow themselves not to be.'

Gary Holdaway, 2012

You can add that quote to any of the 'wise sayings' websites you come across while surfing the net, and use me as a reference. (Because I really want to be famous one way or another!)

Thank you very much for reading, and good luck in your future endeavours!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Tony 21 on April 06, 2019:

Thank you, man this article really helped me calm down, and realize everything will work out. Im 21 and becoming a dad scares me. I know I will be a good one either way.

Portuguese 20yo father on March 25, 2019:

Loved the article.. thanks dude for the good advices!

Lalli ICE on November 18, 2018:

Hello I'm new here can you give me some more tips or something

Daniel on October 08, 2018:

Now i'm not even sure if i'm going to be a dad but thanks to this article, I feel a bit more at ease but i'm still terrified.

Solomon on July 06, 2018:

Nice article, you made me took another good steps forward as a dad...thank you!

Emmnauel Oliveros on June 21, 2018:

Thanks for the article, Really is gonna help out allot, Good advice from a young father like yourself . I still have a couple months to prepare myself and honestly , i cant wait , haha, Feels good being a Dad. Again , thank you

Nancy on April 22, 2018:

"Wow!" You nailed it with your article in black and white, straight out. Happy to know great "Daddy's" still exist!

JustSimple Info from Puget Sound on August 17, 2014:

Great Hub,

Very Very helpful!

I am a father of two! My kids keep me on my toes!

Fernando on August 15, 2014:

Nice article bro, very helpful advice.

Mike on December 04, 2012:

Very interesting hub of the day. Very sweet and helpful advise!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on December 04, 2012:

Very cool hub, Gary. Congratulations on your Hub of the Day Award. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 04, 2012:

How sweet! And very helpful advice for new parents. Congratulations on the HOTD honor too!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on December 04, 2012:

What a wonderful Hub of the Day. I've been missing more writing from the heart on HP lately. Thanks for being honest even in a difficult situation. As a grandmother, I can tell you that you covered all the bases, at least with a newborn/toddler. It's important for your child to hear you speak well of her mother. This goes for how Mom talks about you too. Best of luck and enjoy the ride.

Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on December 04, 2012:

Wonderful hub and yes, you do sound like a good father. Congratulations on Hub of the Day. Voted up.

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on December 04, 2012:

Thank you very much :) this is one i had written a while back so I'm very surprised to get hub of the day... After getting it the first time I never thought it would happen again, at least not in such a small timespan.

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on December 04, 2012:

You seem like a great young father and you have some very practical advice for other young families. What a beautiful family you have. Congrats on Hub of the Day.

Keith Greene on December 04, 2012:

You cannot buy your children's love with money in the future so, why stress about not having any now? I love your line about letting yourself become a dad; it's beautiful and so true. If you are young and have children, what are your friends doing anyway? Playing Black Ops or drinking in a bar? Spend time with your children, be legos or have tea parties. If you just let yourself go, it will be the best time you've had in awhile

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on December 04, 2012:

Parenthood certainly is an amazing thing. Your whole life changes in an instant and its definitely for the better. A level of maturity is hit that you just can't hit until you have a child.

Veronica Roberts from Ohio, USA on December 04, 2012:

"Whether you are a father by choice or not, you are now a father, and it’s time to step up!" - AWESOME words. I applaud you for facing fatherhood head-on & doing what was best for your family - not just yourself, the mother, or the baby, but everyone.

Your daughter is beautiful! Congrats & best wishes.

Isn't parenthood breathtaking (in a multitude of ways)? :)

Congrats on the HOD.

QudsiaP1 on December 04, 2012:

I think you have done a wonderful job portraying the message with the title keeping both stability and instability in view. This is absolutely wonderful.

rmcleve on December 04, 2012:

I can see here that you care, live for your family, and really embody the role of father. It's a wonderful thing to see, especially when I find young fathers who are not so attentive and caring in my own family. It's a blessing! Wonderful hub, too. :)

JustSimple Info from Puget Sound on December 04, 2012:

Great Hub. I love being a father to my two girls.... they are my life, and yes I have a 3 and a newly 12 year old... Welcome to the club fellow father! :-)

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on December 04, 2012:

What the hell!! I really didn't expect hub of the day again. I'm so pleased :)

BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on December 04, 2012:

Congrats on hub of the day. Beautiful daughter. I can tell you're a proud father, hang in there, you've got about 18 more years. You did a good job on your hub!

Klavdija Frahm on December 04, 2012:

Great hub! You're great father, keep up the good work. xoxo to your little one :)

Kalpana Iyer from India on December 04, 2012:

Such a 'mature' young father, and trust me you don't find that trait in guys who became fathers at an older age. Hats off to you for that! And congrats on 'Hub of the Day'. Well deserved.

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on December 04, 2012:

Haha thank you :)

Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on December 04, 2012:

I would never have guessed you were so youthful Gary - which is a compliment by the way!

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on November 08, 2012:

Thankyou very much for your comment and kind words :)

kathleenkat from Bellingham, WA on November 08, 2012:

Hey! Go to Bank of the Pacific...they approved me at as little as 3% down! The trick to that is keeping your credit score above 700 :)

This is very interesting to read...I am 22, and childless. It seems that so much changes with a child! This article makes me look forward to children days, and though I don't posess the parts to be a dad, I think moms and future moms can learn a lot from this, too! Voted up.

Gary Holdaway (author) from Sleaford, UK on October 26, 2012:

Thank you, Jesse.

Jesse Mugnier from Jersey on October 26, 2012:

Being a young mother, I can completely relate to this piece (well, the being a young parent part and family life and such). I think you hit the nail on the head. Having children is the best thing I ever have and ever will do in my lifetime. That's not to say it's not difficult, but I will try my hardest to support them and make sure they know how much I love them. I truly am grateful to know that not all young fathers bail on their girlfriends when a pregnancy happens. So many young men will just walk away and not care, even a little bit, about the bundle of joy they created.

You sound like you have a wonderful family life over there with a beautiful little girl. I wish the best of luck to all of you.

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