By Andrew Shanahan For Telegraph UK
Let’s begin with a wild generalisation: mums are better at supporting each other than dads.
Put a group of mums in a room and within five minutes they’ll somehow know each other’s birth stories, names, numbers and emails. There will be diary dates confirmed for three coffee meet-ups and two mumpreneur ventures will have been launched.
Put a group of dads in a room and within five minutes at least three of them will have finished another level of Plants vs Zombies.
They do each other a disservice. There is a wealth of parenting wisdom to be gleaned from the dads who have been there and done that, so we’ve extracted it with the simple question: “What should dads-to-be know?”
1. You will get hit in the testicles. A lot
All children seem to have an innate ability to injure your testicles. When children reach the age where they start running around they effectively use your testicles in the same way that planes use the arresting gear on aircraft carriers.
The good news is that it’s not just your testicles that get hurt. “I now have a spatial awareness of when my son is in mid-air and is just about to land on my chest,” explains dad Paul Robson.
“Now I'm a dad I am a lot better at being backwards head-butted in the face,” agrees John Warburton.
2. Your TV choices are about to change
“I find it difficult to watch anything that involves stuff like crime drama where a kid has been killed; anything that has a review that features the word 'harrowing' is a no-go,” concludes father-of-two John Ossoway.
The withering cynic you spent decades becoming dies at the moment of your first child's birth. In his place is born a pink, raw, emotional blob that tears up at the merest provocation.
If you accidentally catch any of the CRY NOW segments of Children in Need you'll need to be hooked up to a saline drip for a week afterwards. If you want to watchBroadchurch or The Missing, do it before you have children.
Oh and never, ever, ever, read The Road.
3. Playing will come more naturally to you
There’s an uncharitable accusation that suggests that men never really grow up and that’s why we find it easier to play with children. Whatever the reason, we seem to have a natural advantage when it comes to bonding with our children through play.
“I realise how much I enjoy drawing despite not having done it since my GCSEs,” says Dan Sweryt.
“Me and my son build things with Lego bricks, we build pillow forts, we wrestle, harass the dogs. I have a whole new reason to get up and be excited every day,” explains Sam Lomeli.
A lot of dad work is done kneeling on the floor, rolling around in the garden or with at least one child riding on your back. Get used to it.
4. Your relationship will change
“It’s such an obvious point now, but I was surprised by how much we changed as people,” explains Tom Smith, who has two teenage sons.
Having children means you change both individually and as a couple. You have to accept that and go with it. Don’t forget to keep finding out who the other person in the relationship has become and keep introducing them to the person you’ve changed into, or you might find yourself looking at your partner one day thinking: "Who is this person?".
5. Holidays will never be the same
"I don't know why this sticks with me but the thing that I wish someone had told me was how much holidays change. Before kids we used to travel and basically go wild for a month, now holidays are manic for a different reason," warns Joel Saunders, who has two boys and a girl.
6. There are no child-friendly restaurants
“You are basically going to eat at home until your youngest is 5, then at Nandos until they’re all over 10,” opines Phillip Williams, whose youngest is 11.
7. You will remember how great toys are
“As the father of a five-year-old boy it is great to feel like a kid again at times. I have rediscovered Transformers and radio controlled cars, and got into Marvel super heroes for the first time,” says Richard Shadforth.
I get this completely after My First JCB gave me a beautiful, involuntary Tonka rush of joy. Sure, we can claim that we’re buying them for the children - but we all know that with toy purchases we are finally making good on that promise our seven-year-old selves made that we would one day complete our collection of Star Wars figures.
8. Being a dad is a physical job
Surviving the (thankfully temporary) phase when you don’t get much sleep requires physical fitness. Play requires physical fitness. Balancing work and children requires physical fitness. No one’s saying that you have to be an Adonis, but fatherhood seems to be a lot easier if you have a certain level of strength and cardio.
Equally, it side-steps passing on all of those self-esteem issues that often go hand-in-hand with weight and fitness problems. Revel in the physicality – dig out your budgie smugglers, get the little one a Happy Nappy and take the plunge at the local swimming pool.
9. You will be seen as the disciplinarian
In even the most liberal, “family conference” type household, there will still be moments when the immortal words, “Wait until your dad hears about this” are uttered. It’s not fair that you’re pushed into this role, but the chances are you have a deeper voice and a greater physical presence, so it stands to reason that a dressing down from you is going to resonate more, especially to a child.
10. You will experience one of life's great joys
“They exhaust you, leave you poor and make you watch Peppa Pig until you doubt your own sanity, but even with all that it’s the best job in the world," says dad-of-two Matt Comb.
It’s true. A cuddle from your child, the chance to read them a bedtime story and having someone love you without reserve is probably life's greatest feeling.
Crying? Me? No! Not at all – I just banged my testicles on something.