Becoming a Dad – The Fears, Myths, and Concerns
To be a father, or not to be – that is the question. You’ve seen that look women get when they see the newborn baby in the park with her mommy, and they start thinking about having a baby; you know, it’s the same hungry look you have when your waiter brings out that 21 oz. porterhouse steak. She gives you that look, and a little wink, and you start to think, “oh yeah, I’m in,” until the fears start to set in. It’s normal to have some fears and apprehension about becoming a father, but there is no reason to linger in those fears forever.
Some of the top fears of fatherhood are simply myths that are easily debunked, while others are matters of attitude and perception, which simply take small adaptations that are well worth the tradeoffs. Below are some of the most common fears of becoming a new father.
FEAR: Fear of the pregnancy and birth
Men are the first to admit that women are a great mystery. We just don’t understand. The process of pregnancy and birth, and all of the discomforts, hormonal changes, and risks that go with it, can be very overwhelming.
TRUTH: Pregnancy and birth can enhance your relationship with your partner, increase spirituality, and improve physical health.
BRIDGING THE GAP: Learn all you can
Knowledge is power. Don’t settle for not understanding. The more you know about a healthy pregnancy and the miraculous process of birth, the more comfortable you will be. Women have been having babies for a very long time. The American Pregnancy Association reports that a low percentage of pregnancies in the U.S. experience any complications, and complications are greatly reduced by proactive prenatal care.
FEAR: Failure- Will I be a good dad?
Most men worry about managing themselves, let alone managing another human life. Everyone always jokes that kids don’t come with a manual. When you follow the directions, electronics, mechanics, and even baking a cake warrant a predictable outcome, but a child does not.
TRUTH: You already have most of the skills you need to be a great father. You just need to learn simple ways to apply them with a child. There really are manuals for your children, although they are more extensive and varied, due to the uniqueness of each child.
BRIDGING THE GAP: Learn all you can
There are patterns of positive parenting and healthy, well-adjusted children. There are many books available teaching basic principles of child care, development, effective discipline, etc. You are not alone when it comes to raising a child.
FEAR: Relationship with my partner will change
Men often worry that they will have less time, less activity, less intimacy, and more disagreement with their spouse after the baby is born.
TRUTH: Honestly, your relationship will probably change, but not necessarily in a negative way. Having a child can enhance the intimacy between moms and dads. It can help to add shared purpose and strength to a relationship (if those things are already present before the baby is born).
BRIDGING THE GAP: Work on your relationship before that baby comes
Get to know each other better. Talk and play together. Jerrold Lee Shapiro, PhD, is quoted in a WebMD article saying, “Having a child intensifies everything in a relationship.” If it’s good, it will get better. If it’s not so good, now is a good time to work on it.
FEAR: Money – Will the baby put me in the poor house?
Historically, Fathers have been the primary provider, although this has changed slightly in our current society. Men worry that there won’t be enough to go around, and that a child may postpone the acquisition of “stuff.”
TRUTH: First, kids provide tax benefits. Second, as your family grows, it often motivates people to increase their income and improve upon their monetary situation.
BRIDGING THE GAP: Prepare now
Get the education, or training, that you feel is necessary to do what you love, and will provide for the needs of your family. Avoid debt that will add to your future financial stress.
The opposite of fear is faith. Becoming a father takes faith to see the value of a precious, little child, who will look to you, and love you, for the willingness you had to put aside the fear, and assume the role of Daddy.