The Secret Your Single Buddies Keep Hidden From You (and what to do about it)

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Matt Linden, a Seattleite and lover of books, tech, travel, and good coffee. When he not working, Matt is usually running, reading, or coming up with an excuse to get a stamp in his passport.

If you are like most of my married friends, you probably assume your single buddies have no interest in “dad life.”

They are having the time of their lives, right? They relish their freedom. After all, you remember what it was like to be single, with a world of possibilities at your feet – no commitments, no responsibilities other than yourself.

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Many of married friends assume that, as a single guy, I have no interest in spending a Friday night with them at home, eating dinner, playing with their kids, and just being in the middle of the chaos.

Why would I give up a night of single-life freedom to hang out with someone else’s family, dodge kids running through the living room screaming their heads off, possibly get vomited on, and more than likely end up roped into changing a dirty diaper?

I’ll tell you why. Here’s the secret:

Your single buddies are dying to be in your shoes.

One of my closest friends is a man named Bo. He and his wife had just become first-time parents and were leading a weekly community group in my neighborhood. Bo quickly took me under his wing, sort of like an older brother.

Despite the fact he was juggling life as a family man, working a high-stress tech job, serving at church, and probably sleeping about 3 hours a night (if that) with a newborn baby Bo frequently invited me over to their house.

A couple times a month, I’d forego whatever plans I had and head over to their place. I’d walk in, Bo would hand me the baby and say,

“Here. Practice being a dad while we finish up getting dinner ready.”

And I’d sit there – somewhat awkwardly at first – staring down at this infant in my arms and silently repeating to myself,

“Don’t break the baby. Don’t break the baby.”

Then we’d all eat a meal together. After the baby was put to bed, we’d plop down on the couch and talk about life stuff over a beer.

Since then, Bo’s family has gotten bigger. Now there are four kids who have grown from precious infants to precocious kindergartners and hilarious toddlers. They often turn me into a human jungle gym when I come over to visit.

Sometimes they even call me “Uncle Matt”. It’s the best.

As a result of Bo’s family and their loving investment over the past seven years – simply by inviting me into the chaos – no one knows me better or has had a more prominent role in shaping my 20s.

Bo is second only to my own dad in the level of influence he’s had over my future picture of fatherhood. He’s showed me a whole different way to be a father from the way he loves, plays with, and disciplines his kids.

All of this learning happened live, in the middle of the insanity. You know what I mean: the frequent pauses to discipline or to fix an owie or to stop a kid from smashing into a table corner or yet another “Daddy, watch this!” It wasn’t some finely-scripted lesson plan Bo put together. He just invited me in to witness his family’s life.

There are countless resources out there for single men – books, podcasts, conferences, you name it – we have every resource and medium under the sun prepare us for future spouses and fatherhood.

You know what we really need? We really need you, dads.

We really need to see you and your family in action. Unscripted.

We really need to see you being a dad to your kids.

We really need to see you being a husband to your wife.

We learn more from an hour spent with you and your family than we do in months from any other medium.

Let us see the chaos, the dirty diapers, the screaming and crying, the disciplining, the laughing and giggling. And then go further – don’t just let us see it – ask us to change the dirty diapers, comfort the crying child, and play with your kids while they’re running wild.

What your single buddies won’t tell you is that we are dying to be in your shoes.

You may look back on your single days as the days of carefree freedom when you were master of your time. But we look ahead to our days of fatherhood, of legacy-building, and of family.

We would trade all the freedom in the world to have what you have.

We want to learn to be dads like you.

What single friends in your life need an invitation to witness dad life?