An article over at Minti called Parenting as Leadership Training got me thinking about how becoming a Dad has changed me.

The article points out that new Dads who work for Telia (a large Swedish telecom) are given the option of taking between 3 and 6 months off work with pay to stay at home with their kids because Telia believes that being a “stay at home dad” develops emotional intelligence and leadership ability.

Wouldn’t it be great if more companies took this approach and saw Dads staying at home with their kids as not only good for the family (and society in general), but also good for the corporate bottom line? Not only that, but staying home with the kids promotes family unity and harmony and I am a firm believer that the happier a person is in their home life, the more productive and effective they will be in their work life.

The article makes the point that men who stay at home with their kids:

…can also learn to develop more robust self-esteem by:

  • being able to put others first without feeling disappointed
  • learning to feel good about themselves even though they aren’t at work
  • reassessing their values–what is truly important to them?
  • learning the value of feelings and relationships, not just things.

I can relate. One of the big changes I have noticed about myself since becoming a Dad is how much my confidence has grown.

I imagine that I was like most first time Dad’s. When my wife first told me we were pregnant I was very naive about what that meant, not really knowing what to make of this news. I mean, I was ecstatic since this was what we were trying to do, but the whole thing seemed unreal. And then wham, reality hits you: Dude, you are a Dad. For me it happened about 3 months before our due date when I began dismantling my office and making way for the baby’s room.

At this point, I became a mess – indecisive, nervous, uncertain and doubtful that I could pull it off the Dad thing. For the next few months I doubted everything I knew – doubted my abilities, hedged my bets, and constantly reevaluated and second guessed decisions. Breast fed or formula? Cloth or disposable? What’s that rash? Should we go to the Doctor? What does the website say? Really, what about the book? Exactly the opposite….great. Am I stimulating my kid? Is she bored of me? Can I give my child the intellectual and emotional stimulation she needs or is she going to become a pumpkin? It was a living hell spending so much time and energy continually doubting yourself and your abilities.

Now, with a couple of years under my belt, I feel much more confident in my abilities as a father and I am finding that this is spilling over into my “non-Daddy” life. I feel like I can tackle things that I never thought I would be able to do and succeed at them.

I guess that is how you build confidence and self-esteem: by successfully doing something you doubted you could do, and then transferring that feeling of success into other areas of your life. And I guess that is what forward thinking companies like Telia are betting on; that once their Dad’s come back to work with confidence in their ability to tackle one of the biggest challenges life throws at them, they will have the confidence to tackle any corporate challenge.

Works for me.

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