So, you just found out that you are going to be a dad, and now all your fears are coming to the surface.
First of all, congratulations.
Second, know that you’re not alone.
Many men can feel overwhelmed at the thought of becoming a father for the first time. Ideas of inadequacy may fill your mind as you go through a list of things that you worry you’re not yet prepared for.
Well, the good news is: You’re probably much more prepared then you think you are.
Five common fears that men have when it comes to becoming a father follow, along with what you can do to alleviate them.
1. I won’t be able to connect with my newborn baby. It’s OK. Biology takes over. When a man becomes a father for the first time, a switch goes on in a part of his brain called the dad brain that sends oxytocin among other hormones throughout his body … it’s as though he has fallen head over heels in love with this beautiful little baby. You see this often with big, strong, burly men who become totally besotted as they kiss and cuddle their new arrival. Be patient, be present and be open to receiving love — and you will be fine.
2. I won’t be able to get any sleep. Sure, there will be nights when your baby’s crying will test your patience and leave you groggy as you turn up for work the next morning. The best thing to do is share the late-night duties with your partner so that at least one of you gets a good night’s sleep. Remember, if your child is crying it is because he or she needs something — usually, to be fed, changed or cuddled. Rocking your baby gently in a chair with low lamp lighting while you whisper lovingly will often do the trick. And the lack-of-sleep situation is not forever!
3. I just can’t change poopy diapers. Come on — man up! Preparation is key. New diaper, check. Dirty diaper bag, check. Clean baby wipes, check. Baby powder, check. Strong, but careful, hands, check. Nose plug, optional. Remember, diaper changing time is the ideal time to caress, cuddle, tickle, talk to and connect with your new baby.
4. I won’t have quality time with my partner. Certainly, the arrival of a newborn will change the dynamics of your relationship. A lot of the focus is now on the baby, as it should be. However, don’t fear. As things begin to settle and you get into a routine, you will find time to reconnect.
Take advantage of your baby’s sleeping time — perhaps even just to cuddle up in bed and have a nap together yourselves. Most couples will tell you that the arrival of their first baby strengthened their relationship and brought them even closer. Be patient with each other, send little love messages to each other and keep your bond strong. You can even work toward making time for a date night.
5. My father was a disappointment to me, and I never want to be the father he was. It’s true that many men fear that they will continue the poor traits of their own fathers.
First, remember that your dad was doing the best he could with the resources he had at the time. The good news is that it absolutely doesn’t have to be that way for you. Being aware of this fact is key. If you are having these thoughts, then it’s actually a positive thing, because you have brought something unconscious into your awareness, and the issue can be addressed.
History is full of men who overcame their own childhood disappointments to become the greatest expression of fatherhood imaginable. If you are reading these words, you can do the same. I see the beautiful father that you are, and your children are lucky that they have you.
Think of what didn’t work in your childhood, and what you regret you didn’t do with your own dad, and make a promise to yourself to do things differently. This is your chance to break old patterns and create something wonderful and loving for your children.
You can do it, I know you can.
Enjoy the journey of fatherhood — the greatest journey you will ever embark upon.
Darrell Brown is the author of Raised by Our Childhood Voices. www.darrellbrown.com.au.