There Are No Fathering Experts

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

Tonight things regressed to the point where I found myself Googling “how to help your toddler go to sleep.”

I’ve been a dad for a decade. The toddler in question is my fourth kid. I’ve tucked in and successfully put to sleep my children thousands of times…and yet I’m (again) struggling to get our two-and-a-half-year-old to sleep.

My wife is frustrated. I’m frustrated. Drew isn’t asleep.

The results of my Google search were predictable: lots of folks know the solution to my challenge. Articles angling to help abound, and commenters to those articles have even more ideas. I could spend months testing the SEO-optimized approaches and tactics to getting my little guy to go to sleep on his own.

Among the thoughts that ran through my head as I scanned through various recommendations for dealing with Drew’s resistance to rest, I recalled a friend’s words: “There are no fathering experts…only good dads.”

I think he’s right, and – for a moment tonight – that felt like bad news. I just want an expert to tell me what to do!

While there certainly are general childhood and toddler “experts” (self-proclaimed and otherwise) and it’s certainly wise to listen to those who’ve gone before us and those who have studied parenting and children, none of them are experts on Drew. I’m the man who knows this little guy best, and yet—it’s clear—I’m far from an expert on him. I’m learning, though, and aiming to be a good dad for Drew.

He’s asleep now. Via a combination of some of the ideas I found online, some negotiations personalized to the toddler I know and love best, and sheer exhaustion, Drew’s down for the night.

Fortunately, he’s doesn’t need an expert dad. No—just like your kids—Drew just needs a dad who is there for him and loves him and is willing to keeping learning and striving. May you and I be that guy, day after day.


Wrestling and rough-housing with your kids is an aspect of fatherhood in which expertise may be possible (and it’s certainly worth striving for). And engaging with the vulnerable is an oft-overlooked component of dadcraft that helpfully stretches us and our kids.

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Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash