“Now that you are home from the hospital, things just got real,” writes John Pfeiffer at the opening of his 2013 book, “Dude, You’re A Dad!” That sentence sets the tone for Pfeiffer’s bro-centric parenting guide, which seeks to give the first-time dad a road map through the first year of a child’s life.
Pfeiffer’s book follows up on his previous tome “Dude, You’re Gonna Be A Dad!” and provides simple parenting advice geared at John Q. Father. The book covers everything from getting along with health care providers and day care staff to dealing with tantrums and separation anxiety. There’s even a chapter called “Puppies and Kittens and Babies ... Oh My!” that deals with how to manage pets and children in one household.
No one is going to confuse “Dude, You’re A Dad!” with the work of Dr. William Sears. Pfeiffer’s book is a common sense manual for Joe Everydad, and it’s thick with sports analogies, broad strokes (“As with all things ‘Dude,’ we will speak in generalities,” he writes), and bro-talk. That’s why there are sections titled “Poop Goes the Weasel” and “Vasectomy: To Snip, or Not to Snip.” But there is also a degree of wisdom - I kind of wish I’d read the “Brownie Points with Mom” section before I’d become a father.
The book is interspersed with Pfeiffer’s “Crib Notes,” which are quick bullet points about how to be a parent. Some of these notes resonated with me, such as one that encourages fathers to support their partners if they choose to use a breast pump. “It will allow you to have the bonding experience of feeding your child if you have not done so,” Pfeiffer writes. I agree - when my wife was back at work, and I was home with our son, the presence of pumped milk was like manna from heaven.
Of course, there are other points that don’t quite match my experiences. “At about three months of age, your baby will begin to develop a firm sleep schedule,” Pfeiffer writes, adding: “Change it at your own risk!” Umm, really? I feel like I’m still waiting for a schedule to set in and my son is nearly two years old. (But I agree, when it does, I’m not changing it!)
Pfeiffer is not a pediatrician or a child psychologist - he’s a guy who lives in Georgia with his wife and three kids who wants other dads to “learn from his parental victories (and defeats),” as the book jacket says. It’s a fun book, for both new and expectant dads (and current dudes).