To be a father, or not to be – that is the question for so many people. Dad’s see 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 guys have when your waiter brings out that 21 oz. porterhouse steak. Your wife gives you that look, and a little wink, and you start to think, “oh yeah, I’m in,” And then 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.
I found out, not too long ago, that I’m going to be a Daddy, again, for the fifth time. The incredible thing is that many of these same fears that I had prior to my first child being born return, even with my fifth child. The fears that have risen for me and so many other fathers can be truly frightening, almost paralyzing at times, but they don’t deserve the power we give them to worry us and influence our decisions. Some men might suggest that these fears are some of the reasons they put off having children. They believe the myths about fatherhood told to them by society or by their own mind. This voice of fear is the same lying voice that tries to keep us from doing anything valuable that is hard. It’s the voice that tells you not to start something great because you might fail. It’s the same voice that tells us not to be vulnerable and put our heart on the line before we find the love of our lives. When we identify our fears and face them with strength and the support of our spouse, we can subdue them and experience one of the most satisfying things life has to offer.
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 #1: 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 #2: 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: Again, 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 #3: Will my relationship with my partner 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 #4: 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.
Fear #5: Will it change who I am and keep me from the things I love and want to do in my life?
Will my life be over? A kid is a big commitment. I think a lot of people think and worry about this one, especially before having their first child. The worry is that once you have kids, you can’t be adventurous, spontaneous and take the risks you could before. We often think that it will require us to give up all of our hobbies and the things that we enjoy. We often think having a child means that we have to give up on our dreams or at least put them on hold.
Truth: Each of my children have enhanced my life and who I am as a person. I loved to ski before I become and Dad and I still love to ski. My best ski buddies are my wife and kids. I love to sing and perform and I’ve actually done more of it since having children than I did before I had kids. Every one of my children love to come see Dad perform and they love theatre in general.
Bridging the Gap: If you love something, share it with your family. Also seek to explore your spouse’s interests and the interests of your children as they grow up. I know people that explore incredible adventures with their children. Grated, kids can add a new element of responsibility and can increase the amount of time it takes to plan and execute what you want to do but the trade off is worth the extra effort.
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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.
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