Chances are, if you’re an expecting mom-to-be, you have, at one point or another, looked over at your main man and imagined the type of father he’ll make once your baby arrives (and if you haven’t yet, I’m going to bet you will after reading this article!).
Maybe you’ve pondered this while he assisted an elderly woman at the grocery store, or played football in the backyard with a young nephew. (Yay! He’s going to be a helping father!) Or, maybe you’ve considered this as he ignored a pile of dirty dishes with such fervor you thought he might break his neck while walking by and looking in the opposite direction. (Oh no! He’s going to disappear every time the baby needs a diaper change!)
If this sounds like a game you’ve played (or continue to play) during pregnancy, you may want to consider the following questions:
1. It’s 9PM. You’re hugely pregnant and craving chocolate chip mint ice cream. Your man:
a. Jumps up and heads out the door before you can finish the request
b. Fake snores on the sofa until you give up and munch on cookies instead
2. The dog pees on the living room floor. He:
a. Cleans it up without comment and moves on
b. Steps over it until it dries into a hardened crust
3. You get sick and spend a day in bed. He:
a. Fixes chicken noodle soup and serves it with a smile
b. Claims he can’t figure out how to use the can opener and brings you crackers instead
If most of your answers fall within the A range, smile and relax; chances are he’ll feel comfortable enough to jump in and take over baby duty when the time arrives. If you answered mostly Bs though, you might want to recruit additional help now, in case he locks himself in his man-cave on your baby’s first colicky night and remains there until kindergarten.
All joking aside, if you really want to know what type of daddy your man may be (or even the type of mom you may be), Dr. Vicki Panaccione, parenting expert and founder of Better Parenting Institute, says to ask yourself these questions:
- Does he know how to be playful and have fun?
- Is he easily grossed out?
- Is he sentimental?
- Does he share?
- Will he pitch in and help?
- How patient is he when it’s time to leave and you’re not quite ready?
- Can he share you – your attention – or does he want you all to himself?
- Does he treat people with respect?
- Does he get easily embarrassed?
And before you get too worried, remember this: chances are you fell in love with the guy because he stole your heart and made you smile, and he’s going to be that same great guy when the baby arrives. So, if he helps you around the house now, he’ll likely continue to do so when you add on to the family. If he’s playful and fun now, he’s probably going to be rolling around the front lawn with a toddler in a few years.
And if not? Then it may come down to telling him your – and your baby’s – needs.
Some men aren’t sure how best to help out or how to interact with children, despite reading a million What to Expect When Baby Arrives and How to Be the World’s Greatest Dad books. His relationship with his family, his childhood, and his basic personality all come in to play when it’s time to be a father. Besides these aspects, “Becoming a parent is like taking on a new job,” says Panaccione; a job for which you have absolutely no training.
If you’re the new dad and you aren’t sure what to do, practice. Prior to leaving the hospital, practice baby care techniques, like changing a diaper and bathing baby, under supervision. “Parenting is on-the-job training. The more you do, the more comfortable you become. “And,” adds Panaccione, “your wife is nervous, too.”
New dads can help by:
- Getting up in the middle of the night with mom and/or baby;
- Take charge by bringing home take out, buying groceries, and doing some laundry (tip from Dr. Panaccione: when in doubt, use the cold setting on the washer);
- Understanding a wife’s full time job in the first few months is feeding, nurturing, and caring for the totally defenseless new baby; her secondary job is to take a shower and change clothes; and her third job is to try to stay awake as much as possible;
- and, Spending time with your baby. The baby needs you, so be there for her! Start in the womb by singing and talking and bonding vocally; then, after birth, by holding, rocking, singing, and making as much physical contact as you can.
If you are a new mom whose husband seems lost in the newborn process, “The best thing she could do is make him feel important and necessary in this process that seems to be so mom/baby focused.” Do this by telling him how appreciated he is and reinforcing the things he does that really help. “Dads tend to feel left on the sidelines … bringing him in will be very beneficial for both of them.”
What do you think? What Kind of Father Will He Be?