Oh Crap . . . I’m a Teen Dad! Now What?


I work out at the gym close to my house.  One of the young men I see up there a lot is a guy named Joey.  He’s 18 and just graduated from high school.  For the summer and the fall he worked as a landscaper at a local golf course and every day he and his buddy come up to the gym and work out pretty hard.  Two nice guys that I have become pretty good friends with.  Joey and his girlfriend just brought a baby into the world and today I’ve shared a lot of text and facebook messages back and forth.

Last week, Joey and I were talking and I talked to him about the responsibilities of being a father and my greatest regret.  My greatest regret is simply that I wasn’t a good enough dad.  For whatever reason, I know I could have done more, even under the extreme circumstances of the situation.  I look back now at 41 years old and my daughters are older.  Although my relationship with them is awesome now, I wish I could have been there much more when they were young.  This isn’t about me . . . This is about my friend Joey.

The baby was born on February 3, 2012.  A healthy little girl.  Now Joey and the mother aren’t talking after a big fight.  This is going to be a challenging time for Joey and his girlfriend, but what they need to understand is that there is a child involved and they each have families expecting their kids to do the right things for their child.  Make it about the child!

I have to weigh in with my opinion here.

I remember talking to Joey and told him the advice my dad gave to me.  I said, “Joey, my dad told me many years ago and I never listened.  Just because you and your girlfriend are having this baby together doesn’t mean you have to marry her.  What is important is that you are bringing a child into the world and you have to be a good dad.”  We talked and he listened.  I told him life will not be the same and today he said, “WOW . . . You weren’t kidding when you said my life will change immediately, huh?”  Yeah, I wasn’t kidding.

Listen, if you are a dad you now have some major responsibilities.  Here are 5 tips to becoming a great dad:

1.  Put the baby first

The baby didn’t ask to come into this world.  Man up now and take care of your responsibilities.

2.  Close your circle

Life has changed.  Surround yourself with positive influences that support you and will encourage you.

3.  Get a job

The baby is going to require food, diapers, clothes, medical, toys, books, etc.  The money is not yours anymore for your toys.  Show the baby the money!

4.  Learn to shop

Mom is going to have her hands full.  Help with the buying of diapers, baby formula, toys, and the necessities of what the baby needs.

5.  Treat mom like a queen

I know this doesn’t sound right, but mom will always be the baby’s mother and most likely the number 1 care taker of that child.  You don’t have to marry her, and you might not stay together, but you will always be a part of each others life as a result of the choice you two made.  Treat her well and offer to help her out.  Make it about her and the baby, and not about you.

The bottom line is not you have to be responsible and take care of the baby.  As a teen dad life is going to be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.  Responsibilities are and have changed.  You have brought a baby into this world and now you have to man up and do the right thing.

** Jeff Yalden is a teen expert and youth motivational speaker that works with teenagers and speaks at high school and middle school assemblies.  Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has been considered the #1 teen motivational speaker in America for youth leadership conferences, school assemblies, and character education programs.  Jeff was a teen father, a United States Marine, a school teacher, and a coach.  Now, Jeff is motivating today’s youth and teaching today’s teen to become responsible and to do the right thing.

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Author:Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker

Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Life Coach. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has been mesmerizing audiences with his engaging style and passion. Jeff is a story-teller that every where he speaks, he guarantees he is real and in the moment, perfect for every audience. He is one of a kind. He's interactive and nobody pours as much energy and passion into their programs that Jeff does. Guaranteed, Jeff will be a defining moment and a highlight of your students lives. www.JeffYalden.com

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