Having A Daughter Will Make Me A Better Father

    I think it’s safe to say that if men could choose the gender of their first child, it would be a boy. There must be something in our DNA that makes us want to have a mini-me that we can show how to be a man, throw a ball with, teach about girls, lift weights, tell life lessons and philosophies to.  And like most, I was initially in this same boat.

    When we found out that Mama Bird was pregnant there was a lot of questions about what we wanted regarding gender, boy or girl. Everybody was asking and in the beginning my answer was easy, “a boy for sure”. I was excited about the prospect of getting him matching Air Jordans to mine, dressing him in stylin’ clothes, listening to hip hop (even though he wouldn’t be able to understand any of it haha), and all the future moments of playing sports, watching movies together, working out together, talking about girls, and all the other times Dads live for with their sons. But then I started thinking what if none of what I want to come true happens? What will I do? How will I react? Will I have to force him to get into the stuff I’m into? And then I started to think about if that does happen, how he will react. Will he resent me for pushing to hard? Will he start to pull away? Will we lose our bond? And those thoughts scared me. See, what you need to know is that I am quite passionate about the activities, music, TV, ideologies, clothing, etc. that are attached to who I am. Sometimes to a fault, because I do have a difficult time when people can’t see or understand what I mean or where I’m coming from or simply don’t like what I like. I just want everyone to love the stuff I love and get excited about it like I do haha.  I know, it’s ridiculous thinking.

    One thing that made me question having a boy is based off my Dad and I’s relationship. There were definitely moments growing up where I could tell that my Dad had a hope that his son would fall in love with the things he fell in love with. This most definitely did not happen and at some moments maybe even pushed me further in the opposite direction. For example, my Dad loved baseball and played it as a boy and as an adult in a men’s league. Throughout my childhood he always wanted me to play baseball and I didn’t really want to. The more he asked or pushed the more I would resist to the point where this is how our conversations would go: 

“Would you like to play baseball this year?”

“No”

“Are you sure? It could be lots of fun and I could help with your team”

“No, I don’t think so”

“You should just give it a try, You might like it”

“Ok I’ll tell you what, if you convince the coach to only let me be at bat and hit the ball and not have to ever play in the field, I will play”

“That’s not how it works, you have to play both”

“Ok then, no”

Becoming frustrated with a cheeky kid, he would get upset and leave the room. And being a child, I didn’t understand the reason behind the push and often became defensive which was such a terrible response. This also happened with music, he is a big country fan and that is so far from what I love; rap and R&B. Our styles just didn’t match up but I could tell that he wanted them to. Maybe this was my Dad’s approach, maybe it was my stubbornness, but none the less it just didn’t happen. If I had a boy, I knew I didn’t want this to happen, and I was worried it would.

    I want to note, before I talk further, that should we have a son in the future I will try to be as supportive as possible for whatever he loves, I just know that there will be situations that will be a lot harder for me to let go of. Before we even decided to have kids I already had some pre-existing expectations of what a son of mine would be into. I always thought of my son wanting to be into the same things that I am into, across the board. Whether it’s on the athletic side of playing basketball, snowboarding, mountain biking, and working out or on the entertainment side of listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows and movies.  I even had this idea that he would go through the same style choices I did down to the brands like Air Jordan sneakers. If he decided to go a different way I would be racking my brain as to why, and what I could do to get him to go down my known path. I know that these expectations are not fair to put on a child and that’s why I knew that I needed to work on this.

    Having a girl has eliminated this problem for me and will give me the fatherly experience for if we have a boy later on. Although I may really want Baby Bird to get into some of the same things I am into, I fully understand that it’s a long shot and that it’s ok if it doesn’t happen. I also have no preconceived ideas of the right ways to operate through the different stages she will go through because I’m a guy and growing up I went through different stages and experienced different things than a girl would. This gives me the freedom to let her be who she is and just help her along the way in whatever way I can. If she doesn’t play basketball that’s completely ok, she can play any sport and I can be there to support her. With a girl I can eliminate the mold that a child should have to fit into. As long as she moves and operates through each of these things with respect from the core values and beliefs she learns from us, it should all be ok. Within those core values there is a wide range of choices that don’t limit how she can grow.  For some reason this whole concept is easier to grasp with a girl, because naturally it’s non-relatable to me therefore allowing me to learn and grow with her instead of having shoes for her to grow into. 

    When the 16 week ultrasound came around, Mama Bird and I were quite excited and hopeful we would find out it’s a girl (Mama Bird wanted a girl as well). The ultrasound tech started to do her thing, find the heart beat and all the other stuff they look for, then she says it, “it’s a girl”. Mama Bird and I both smiled, we got our wish, and now we have a beautiful baby girl. The worrying about a boy was over and now I could just focus on being the best father I can be and learn how to approach it all for if we have a boy in the future.

    The best part about this is that it gives me the chance to grow as a man. I don’t want to put such limitations on how a son of mine would have to be. That’s not fair for me to do. I want my kids to be able to be their own person and find out what works for them and excel at it. So having Baby Bird come along gives me a chance to learn and grow in this department which is so great. Any moment where you can learn something to make you a better person is an opportunity that should not be squandered. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I disagree. The growth period shouldn’t stop once you become an adult. I look forward to the upcoming moments that can help me grow, no matter how difficult they will be. I’m sure that some of them will definitely push me further than I want, but thats ok. I’m also sure that I won’t handle every situation perfectly, and that’s ok too. And, if we happen to have a boy down the road, hopefully I will be able to slash these expectations, let him be his own man, and be the supportive father I want to be.

    If you have this worry as a father I encourage you to work on it as soon as possible so that the whole process will be much easier on you and not so hard on your son. Now obviously I haven’t gone through it yet as Baby Bird is only a few months old but looking back and seeing how I was with my Dad makes me think that this is a good approach to it. Do your best to let them be their own person. Dad’s out there, do you agree?…disagree? And as I’m writing this I’m thinking about the Moms out there, do you have these expectations for your girls and not for your boys? Are there different expectations you are worried about? Let me know in the comments below.

                                            - Papa Bird


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