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How becoming a father has affected me as a designer

November 2019

When I wrote this I have been enjoying being a father for over a half a year. Going from being non-parent to parent has to be the greatest identity change I have gone through.

My patience has been tested during sleepless nights. I have figured out ways to recognize different kinds of cries from hunger to boredom. The value of alone time has grown exponentially. There is a fresh set of skills on my hand and my mind has experienced an emotional roller coaster. Parenthood touched me as a whole and this new stage of my life has also made significant impact to me as a designer.

So, I’m a dad now. In what way has it affected me as a designer? The list could be endless, but I wanted to summarize this to two most important ones.

Deeper understanding of others

I found that in most cases good design is based on the insight of the people who you are designing for. What are their motives and what are their values. What makes them happy and what keeps them awake at night.

In my projects I had used user personas of parents. I have examined several economic research dealing with families buying behaviors and I’ve read numerous feedback from moms and dads. Loads of facts and stats relating to parents and families gave me some insight. Still I had no idea what it feels like to be concerned about the health of your child or how powerful emotions can be raised just by smile from cute bubbly face.

Only through my individual experiences I now understand what are the true reasons behind parent’s actions and motives. Right now I possess basic experiences. There are still unexpected moments to happen and things to learn but now I can say “Yes, I know what you are talking about”.

Deeper understanding of myself

You don’t know your limits. Not until you push yourself to them. Becoming a parent gives you an excellent change to find these limits if you have been missing a reason to do so.

While finding your limits might be great, I found even more reward in finding my own life values and motivation. Fatherhood has made me ponder my personal values. How should I spend my days and what kind of impact I want to give through my work.

I mentioned before that good design is based on knowledge about its users. When I look at the big picture and fundamentals of design, it is clear that design with greats impact needs to be based on a genuine purpose. Why should anyone care about your product or service? Defining purpose and finding ways to express it is hard work. But starting this task becomes much easier if you have at least a faint idea of your personal views and goals.

I have been victim of forced introspection by my six month old baby. Expanding my knowledge of my own thoughts, beliefs and emotional patterns has allowed me to better understand others.

Never before did I have so little free time and so much passion for inner contemplation. When I was preparing myself for being a father I could only wait for the first one.