Becoming a father brings about a lot of competing emotions — joy, fear, excitement, anxiety, happiness, worry, etc. To minimize stress from the competing emotions and the real challenges fatherhood brings, new fathers should be proactive and take steps to prepare themselves for the task ahead.
The following are some common worries for fathers, and things that upcoming/new fathers should begin thinking about sooner rather than later.
Paternity leave. Does your employer offer paternity leave? If not, it could be quite challenging to balance your regular work schedule and finding time to be with your newborn. What impact could not having paternity leave have on your partner? Also, if you do have paternity leave offered to you, are you willing to take it?
New responsibilities. Feedings, changing dirty diapers, crying, etc….It is challenging enough as it is to work a full-time job and manage household chores and other responsibilities. These additional duties can cause a great deal of distress. Also, the reality is that if you’re used to an independent lifestyle, having a child restricts that freedom.
Disrupted sleep. It takes children a great deal of time to even understand the standard day/night, sleep/wake cycle. Their sleep schedule, for an extended period of time, will not align with yours…Sleep deprivation is common among parents, and can take a toll quickly on a parent, which can bleed over and cause problem in many other aspects of life.
Financial strain. Perinatal costs, delivery costs, postnatal health care, diapers, clothing and other baby supplies…the costs of having a child add up quick. Depending on other aspects of your budget, this can cause tremendous strains. It is important to plan ahead in terms of how a baby will impact your financial health and how you plan to manage that.
Less time with your partner. Three’s company — having a child means that you and your partner will be sharing the attention usually placed upon on another on someone else. It is common and easy to feel left out at times.
Loss of sexual activity. Recovery from childbirth, physical exhaustion and stress takes a toll on one’s sex life, which might strain your relationship if it isn’t discussed ahead of time.
Depression. Postpartum depression can occur for both mothers and fathers.
Some of the things father’s can do before the baby is born to get prepared:
Get involved. During pregnancy, men simply don’t experience the same daily reminders as women do. Find ways to be involved — interact with your baby by touching, talking, singing, etc.
Attend prenatal classes. This will help you and your partner find out what to expect during labor and delivery. It will also help you learn how to care for a newborn.
Consult a financial planner. Talking to a financial planner can help you determine ways to handle the cost of having a baby.
Build a network of social support. It is important for fathers to develop a social network. Seek out friends and family who can give advice and encouragement as your prepare for father. And, since you’re reading this on Padre Cadre…that’s what we our all about! Padre Cadre is a social network for fathers to share advice and experience.
Talk to your partner. Your relationship WILL change. Developing open communication and talking about your experiences, needs, etc., is pivotal to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Consider what kind of father you want to be. Develop a blueprint for the type of father you want to be. Use your past experience with your own father, or other fathers you’ve known — Draw on the things that you liked…adjust the things that you didn’t.
Becoming a new dad is a life-changing experience. By recognizing and planning for the challenges ahead, you can ease your stress and spend more time enjoying your new family. OK, Padre Cadre members, please leave comments below if you have other advice for soon-to-be fathers.