Dads & Dads-to-be

It must be very emotional for a man to become a father, especially for the first time. So many questions must revolve around a young or not so young man’s head. “How will I manage my life? Will I be a good father? Will we be able to provide for our child through his growing years? Will my partner’s treatment of me change once the baby comes? Will the baby like me?”

Every day on earth, millions of men become fathers. Possibly, only a few of them ever think of baby rearing as a job, and most babies grow into adulthood looking healthy enough. The emotionally healthy children, however, do possess fathers who take their child-rearing job seriously.

A father’s touch–the way he holds his baby, the way he plays with him, cares for him, nurtures him–matters greatly for an infant’s optimum development. In reverse, the interaction with his baby aids a father’s personal growth by teaching him how to be protective and nurturing.

A father’s attention improves his baby’s understanding, emotional development, and even intelligence. The baby sees the differences between Mommy, Daddy, and other people through his interaction with his father.

His father’s support helps the baby develop self-confidence and guides him to explore the world around him more enthusiastically. Fathers usually encourage perseverance in their children, more so than other people around them. Fathers also are the ones to persuade their children to take risks and overcome their initial fears of new projects.

By becoming role models to their children, fathers promote the concepts of honesty, fairness, gentleness, and empathy.

Parenthood is a scary mission. When a man gets the first news of becoming a father he may feel a plethora of emotions: happiness, shock, worry, pride, panic, fear, excitement, anxiety and a whole lot of other things. These feelings are understandable and acceptable because they are normal. Addressing these feelings by talking about them with one’s mate, a friend, or one’s family is a very constructive approach.

Also, if the father-to-be has had his differences with his own father in the past, it would help his situation greatly to discuss these problems with a professional, if not for himself, then for the sake of his baby. Promising to oneself not to repeat other people’s mistakes and to be the best father ever may not always work perfectly.

Being a good father starts when the baby is still in the womb. It is hypothesized that the babies do understand plenty of things before birth. Talking to the baby while touching the mother’s belly will make the baby get acquainted with his father’s voice, his intonation, and his moods.

At this stage, a baby care course would be a great idea for the expectant couple. Fathers who attend such courses take care of the babies better, and as a result, become closer to their children.

Supposing the future father passed through the pregnancy and childbirth together with his wife in flying colors, what can the couple, as parents, do once the baby gets home?

* The father has to understand and put up with his partner’s moods. Childbirth is a physical process and a woman’s body goes through many changes as the result of it. Most women suffer from baby blues because of hormonal changes. In such a case, positive relationship with the father of her baby helps a woman immensely.

* The father has to understand and accept that not only his wife but he, too, will experience physical and psychological discomfort and sleep deprivation.

* The father has to, not aid but, participate and become an equal partner in the care and nurturing of the baby. When he does that, he will start creating an emotional connection between himself and his offspring.

* Changing, bathing, dressing, feeding, holding, and playing with the baby are means to a good communication between a father and a child. While talking to an infant, using signs, or even using sign language, may help the bonding and the baby’s mental development.

* If the father and the mother are working and have found an alternative solution to their baby’s care, neither should feel guilty, but instead, they should turn the time they spend with the baby into quality time. If a situation can not be helped, it can be remedied.

* The parents have to stop expecting the continuation of their social life before the baby was born. On the other hand, they both should make an effort to take care of themselves, eat right, and get some rest and exercise.

* If the father has to be away for long periods of time because of work, laminating large photos of his face and hanging or placing or them around the baby’s crib can be considered an alternative. Also playing video and audio tapes of the father may help the baby to become familiar with the father.

The idea of “Practice makes perfect” works very well with fathers. The more a father pays attention to his baby, the more capable the father will become, and his baby will develop faster and better in his mental, physical, emotional, and social growth.

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