Read an Excerpt
The New World of Fatherhood
It is a brand new world for fathers today. Being a father now is far different than it was for your father. These changes bring greater challenges and responsibilities for men, but also immense rewards and joys. This chapter will prepare you for what to expect on the road ahead.
Becoming a Father
To state the obvious: Being a father is different than being a mother. You have a different role in the family, and a different job to do. You see things differently than your partner does. And you will have a different relationship with your child than her. Some of the most crucial differences between a father and a mother occur during pregnancy. The most dramatic, and visible, changes occur with the woman. Her body changes as the baby grows inside her. Along with these physical changes come a whole host of emotions.
A father, on the other hand, is an entirely different breed of cat. Although some men experience sympathy pains and other physical symptoms that we will discuss in Chapter 3, virtually nothing happens directly to him. His body does not expand and change. He's the same fella he always was except that, now, he is about to have a little rug rat crawling around the house. Yikes!
The unique challenge that men face is that they must come to terms with becoming a father almost solely on an emotional level, rather than a physical one. But the good news for fathers-to-be today is that there is an unprecedented level of support and a wide variety of resources available to them. Some of those resources are:
*This book and others like it that speak to men
*Father and parenting web sites on the Net
*Chat groups on the Net
*Men's and father support groups
*Your partner and family
These and other resources are potentially useful to men, and will be discussed in greater detail as this book progresses. It is important for new fathers to realize that they are not alone as they embark on this journey.
The Internet is a boundless source of information that can help answer specific questions that arise. Some of this information is reliable, some not. On medical issues involving pregnancy, it is always best to follow a physician and your own common sense rather than the Net, your mother-in-law or any one else who may offer advice.
Today's Fathers: Greater Expectations, Greater Rewards
Today, more is expected of fathers than ever before. You are expected to be a good provider, but that is not all. Nowadays you are also expected to actively participate in the birth of your child, and take a hands-on approach in raising him. Additionally, your partner expects you to always be there for her in a loving, nurturing way. It's a lot to handle, no? At times it can seem overwhelming. But fatherhood is like a job and like any job, it helps to know what your responsibilities are and how you fit in. Here, then, is a general job description for being a father:
Job One: Provider-Protector
Despite all the changes that have occurred to fatherhood over the years, your primary role is the same as it was for the cave men and every father since then. You need to provide for your family, and protect them to make sure they are safe. The mother's primary focus will be inward, on the baby. Yours will be on creating a safe, secure place to raise your child.
Men are hard-wired for this job. It is not something that you will need to go to school to learn. Often the first thoughts a man has when he learns his partner is pregnant is, "How am I going to pay for this? Do I need to work more? What do I need to do to make this happen?"
All men have these thoughts or similar ones. They are normal and natural, an instinctive reaction to the promise and responsibility of childbirth. Being a good provider is the most fundamental way you can help your partner and child. Job Two: Participant
One of the biggest jobs a father has is as a birth coach, which will be discussed later in this chapter and in much greater detail in Chapter 14. But being a birth coach is only one aspect of a larger requirement for fathers today: They are expected to participate in all areas of family and household life. This is in part due to the fact that many women are themselves working outside the home, and need more help from their partners with the baby.
Being asked to participate more may seem like a negative at first. But it can be a positive. With greater responsibilities come greater rewards. Since you are around your child more-changing diapers, feeding her, walking her, or whatever-you develop a closer relationship with her. Which is what every father wants.