Dear Father Hood: what’s the secret to making new dad mates?

Greetings, readers. You join me live at a massive party featuring bouncy castles, vociferous conversations, beer, an array of barbecued meat, televised sport and lots of men laughing while transporting their children around in Baby Bjorns.

Yup, it’s a bona fide dad-fest and do you know what? It’s all in my head, because in the 11 months since my child arrived in this world I have made a few acquaintances, but absolutely no ‘give me five and hug it out, let’s have a swift couple after work’ dad mates.

For the benefit of my ego, I’d love to tell you my wife was having similar issues, but in reality she’s been inundated with friend requests. Yesterday, she went on a play date with a new mate. Next week, she’s got two or three social events in the diary. And right now, she’s downstairs having popcorn and cake with three girls she met through our National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes. So why is she succeeding where I am failing?

Having considered this query long and hard over the past few days, I have absolutely no idea. So. Um. Awkward. Anyone seen any good movies recently? Obviously, I am only pulling your leg. I’ve actually come up with five things that have been hindering my dad mate quest. Are you ready to learn from these revelations? Brilliant, because quite frankly I’m running out of other stuff to say…

Father Hood with his mates. Now to find some dad mates...
Father Hood with his mates. Now to find some dad mates…

The wolf pack mentality

I’ve had most of my good mates (pictured above) since school. We are brothers-in-arms, the jolly boys, a wolf pack and a number of other stereotypical sayings. We know what each other likes and doesn’t like, we keep each other’s secrets and we know how to make each member of the group laugh. It’s a bond that’s been forged over many life experiences, weekends away and hungover Sunday brunches.

Key word in the previous sentence? Many. It took years for me to develop these relationships, so why on earth would I expect to feel a similar connection within the space of a five-minute chat after an NCT meeting or chance encounter at the zoo? I don’t know. But that is what I have been doing. I have been meeting new dads, and instantly attempting to assess whether they’re suitable to howl with my old pack. Do you know how silly this is? Save your breath, the answer is very.

A fear of rejection

In the last few months, my wife has swapped numbers with a number of mums she’s met at classes or in the street. Have I done the same with the dads I’ve got chatting to at the station or down the soft play? Have I heck. I mean, what if they reject me? Or come on to strong? Or give me their number and then don’t reply to the message? Or…stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP!  If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so if I really want to make new dad mates, I need to pluck up the courage to request some digits.

An outdated social currency

My default opening grunt towards a potential new buddy has always revolved around “grabbing a drink”. This worked a treat when I was single, but now it’s just not going to happen. What with picking the little man up from nursery, and making his dinner, and helping with his bath. And having to drive to collect the pram we left at his grandparents. And getting a two-day hangover after having more than four drinks.

Conclusion? I need to reboot this grunt so it offers options like: coffee, lunch, coming round our house or going for a walk. Sure, 26-year-old, childless me just read that last sentence and made an offensive hand gesture. But he no longer exists. And if he wants to make any dad mates, 36-year-old, father-of-one me needs to appreciate this.

Forgetting about the kids

Pop quiz, readers: aside from a Y chromosome and all that comes with it, what is the one thing that any new dad mates and myself are guaranteed to have in common? No, it’s not Calvin Klein boxer shorts (although I agree that is almost certain). It’s our babies. So whenever the NCT lads and myself have gone out, we’ve always masked over the lulls in conversation by playing with our kids, right? Wrong. Unlike our wives, who quickly realised that the presence of their babies would boost the bonding process, we’ve always left the kids at home, gone down the pub and spent the majority of the evening talking about poop, staring into space or saying “sport”.

Where are all the men?

I’m going to ease my foot off the self-criticism pedal in this final entry. Why the change of focus? Here’s why. I’ve been going to baby classes for around six months, and do you know how many other dads I’ve seen in that time? The answer is two. That’s pathetic, men. And what’s even more pathetic is the fact that I’ve heard the expression “you’re brave, there’s no way my husband would ever come to a class” nearly 100 times.

What’s wrong with you people? It’s a baby class, not a public back waxing. Sure it’s not any adult’s idea of fun and frolics, but that’s not the point. The point is your kid gets something from these classes, so grow a pair, slide your shoes off and start singing. Who knows? It might not be as bad as you think and – duh, duh, duh – you could meet a lovely new dad friend, like me.


  1. Good post.

    Found when I hit my late twenties to early thirties my social life dried up in general. Men are often crap at not being boys when meeting new people.

  2. Brilliant read. Really does sum it up. My wife started going to the nursery and picked up new 2 friends instantly… me, still none, any rare men I do see are head down , drop kid off and run to the car almost! Following you for more honesty in dad world. Stephen.

  3. You might be surprised; some of your wolfpack guys might love an outing to the park with you and the little guy. Or maybe you could have one over to watch a game when you’re babysitting. Good bonding time for all. Single guys often enjoy kids, but the dose has to be right. And take your foot off of that self-criticism pedal. You’re thinking about how all of your relationships fit together, so well done. You’ll get it.

  4. I know a number of people with the same problem. I believe men bond over activities, so I advise men to join organizations so they will have at least that in common with the people they meet. Having said that, I feel badly when I sneak away from a hand offering friendship. One can never have too many friends – BUT, I don’t have time to grow and maintain a new friendship. Work, volunteering, exercise, mental health restoring hobbies, wife, kids…maybe a lot of guys post-kid/pre-empty-nest feel the same.

  5. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. I’m in a similar stage – 13 month old. On my side I’ve rationalised things a little differently. I think that our wives connect so well because they spend more time with the kids (ie often taking a career break) whereas many dads only see their kids after work. This means many more points to network and, frankly, you’ll go nuts staying indoors with your kids so mums are incentivised to get out. No longer do I think mums are lounging during the day, it’s a case of self preservation. Further NCT seems like a massively strong bonding driver as so many women face the crazy child birth fear of the unknown then pain. In contrast I’ve often felt that the process was pretty abstract until our son’s birth and the C section – a bit like, well I can’t feel your headache… lastly I’m not sure but in my case I think it’s also a function of our kids not really being old enough to socialise. And, I think this changes from 1 year as suddenly your hosting birthday parties, or being called to them, etc. As a result, I think that opportunities to meet other dads will ramp up and this means that the “many” times barrier naturally erodes. Anyway just my thoughts – thanks for sharing so honestly, a good read.

    • Thanks for the comment, you make lots of really interesting points. I guess my main issue is being the parent who predominantly stays at home, while my wife goes to work. There are more and more families like this around the country, but in the area we live in it’s still extremely rare. Thus my options are: hang out with the NCT girls, which seems a bit weird as, like you say, I have no real idea what they went through and it’s not really what I am looking for. Or try and find dads who are in a similar situation, which isn’t easy (all of the NCT dads are nice guys, but they all work full time, so are never free to do soft play at 10am on a Tuesday). Like you say, hopefully I’ll meet more and more people as my son gets older.

  6. Hi I’m glad I have seen this post as I have created a blog similar to this post more thoughts of a father but will share and follow and have a read. If you find time return the favour. Thanks

  7. I’m a mum and I relate. I’m not a big people person. I can’t think of anything worse than having to stay in touch with all the friends your wife has! Except maybe the awkwardness of asking for another mums number. A couple of good friends is my limit. Maybe I was meant to be a man?

  8. You should have your wife introduce her new friends husbands to you. When we relocated I made a bunch of new friends but my husband, not is much. We set the husbands up and now they are going on a ski weekend together! Making friends as an adult is hard!

    • Yeah, I’ve had a few of those meet ups, where we’re like “ooh, look at this pic of my kid”, “Is yours sleeping through the night?, “Have you ever had this nappy related disaster?”. They’re fine, but not exactly the escape I’m after.

  9. Sorry about comment before, pressed send before finishing! What I was saying is this is an hilarious viewpoint on this! From the female point of view it’s always assumed that this type of bonding that you mentioned comes automatically once you are pregnant & attending these classes. I went to a few & they fell into two categories; the ‘yummy mummies’ who would talk relentlessly about nannies & getting nails done. Or the ones who smoked outside & talked about what was on TOWIE last night. I felt either way I didn’t fit in with the women I met while pregnant & after. Sometimes might be that it’s harder to make friends past the age of 30 as I am currently finding. Good luck with your quest! 😊

    • Thanks for the kind words and the comment. Yeah, I think part of it is age – we’ve got to a stage where we’re decided what we like and unless someone ticks all those boxes, then we’re unlikely to truly bond with them. I also wonder if one of the issues I am having is the lack of time in my life for sport. I’ve always found it one of the best ways to network and make and maintain friendships (mainly because you don’t really have to do anything, just turn up at a certain football pitch once a week), but I’m not as able to play anymore due to work, having a family, niggling injuries etc. etc.

  10. I can’t explain how much I can relate to this. My wife and her new pals recently had an amazing and brilliant “mums” night out. I suggested I should organise a Dads night out, then I realised it would likely be lots of nods and grunts interjected with small talk then returning home to our significant others stating I won’t be doing that again.

    • Thanks. Yeah, it’s a weird one. I think we become so accustomed to hanging with our ‘old’ friends that we kind of forget how to make new ones. I’m pretty good with conversations/trying to keep in touch on Whatsapp, but it’s been a tough old slog with the others dads I’ve met. I wonder if we subconsciously rally against ‘dad mates’ because they feel more like a set up than someone we’ve randomly met, got to know and ended up becoming good pals with.

      • I used to work away and therefore all my friends live 100s of miles away. So my wife actively pushes me to make friends with strangers which often makes it feel a unnatural process.

  11. Scary making new friends with the only connection being your child. I kind of speak to one dad during the school run and it’s always about the weather. Since my wife and I had our 2nd child she’s been on maternity leave and doing the school run so I don’t have to speak to any other dads. Thank you for reading my comment and good luck.

  12. Wow.. great read! You hit the nail on the head with this one. Why is it so much harder for dad’s to make new friends than Mom’s?? True for me and my husband as well… I wish he could make make friends to just hang with. Sometimes I feel so bad about leaving him to be with my gal pals..

    • Thanks. I think mums seem to have more of an ‘in it together’ mentality, while dads take a bit longer to realise that other dads now have much more in common with them than some of their old mates do.

  13. Very interesting read I made hubby read it as well. Having moved to a new area we didn’t know anyone. Cut long story short met a mum at the pool with her son same age as my son hit it off got introduced to another 3 parents all with boys in the same age group. Kept telling my hubby about them and we finially got the dad’s on board now hubby had a surfing mate and takes or son along with the other dads to kindy gym.
    I feel like I’ve set him up on 3 blind dates and it’s worked out

    • I knew it was my wife’s fault for not introducing me to anyone… Just kidding. Well done, you. And great news for your hubby. I can’t surf, but having a surfing mate sounds awesome.

  14. Awesome! I laughed at the end! I don’t have kids yet but I’m new in the state of Texas and I know the feeling of knowing no one! Hang in there, maybe you can kick it with your wife’s friends husbands.

  15. Good question, many answers, I went the whole way to sixteen without much luck, got most from investing all time to the kids. Good luck but if not at least you have the unique experience of shaping young minds, lucky you, peace out #dad

  16. Our babies are now 7, 6 and 3 and we’re about to start the friend-making process all over again once we get to Amsterdam! What you write really resonates with our experience here in the U.K. though – I’ve found it easy to make friends, my husband hasn’t.

    • Good luck in Amsterdam. My friends recently moved there and are really enjoying the city. They’ve got a 2-year-old and are expecting another, and while I am not sure they have made that many good friends, they are also posting nice Instagrams in play parks etc. Fingers crossed it’s better than the UK.

  17. Looks like I found you just in the nick of time. Our first born is almost three months old, I better start now! Maybe I can get that dad party together for her first birthday… 😉

    • Thanks for the comment and apologies for the slow reply. I think mums definitely deserve loads of credit, but dads are playing a much bigger part in raising children nowadays. Not sure this is currently being recognised, but hope the situation changes soon.

  18. And then you have to deal with the issue that men are not raised to be social. How often do you try to arrange to socialise with a male friend only to have “you’ll have to talk to my wife, she does the social stuff” This also adds another element, some men simply don’t socialise without their wives / girlfriends. Getting deep for a moment, this is a much bigger issue. I used to work for Age Concern and one of its most interesting research projects looked at the social isolation of old men. If the wife dies first after years of organising social events, the man is often left very much on his own and without the skills to meet with friends and make new relationships. So yeah dads, make friends and socialise withour OHs!

    • Sorry, think I missed this the other day. Very good points. I like to think I’m social, but, now that you make me think about it, if we are going out with a couple who we both know it is pretty much always the ladies who do the organising. I must try and change that going forward.

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