Fatherhood is an evolving role. The well known roles of student, worker, partner or husband change when a man adds in the role of father. A survey of over 600 men identified the following ‘core factors of fathering’:
- Protecting and providing
- Loving and being engrossed with children
- Facing performance fears as a father
- Being encouraging and supportive
- Being courageous
- Being trustworthy
- Honoring male compassion and warmth
- Developing flexibility
- Administering discipline
- Demonstrating and teaching teamwork
- Understanding and honoring personal limits
- Facing yourself and your own fathering
Take some time to think about how being a father will fit with your current work and family life. Some jobs take men away for months at a time, so their fathering role will look different from a man who is home every day or that of a man who stays home as the primary caregiver. It can help to talk as a couple about what you both see as your role in parenting this baby.
Although the role of the father will be different when a baby’s parents are not together in a relationship, it is still important to the child to be actively involved.
Early days as a father
New fatherhood can be exhausting and exhilarating. Here are a few tips from research and from other fathers for making the best of your early days as a father.
- When your baby is born, or as soon as you’re able, spend time holding your baby. Research shows that fathers who have time holding their baby in the first hours of life or soon after are more engaged with their baby and spend more time playing with their baby later on.
- Get involved in the everyday care of your baby. It’s OK that you hold the baby differently than mother, or do the diaper up differently than she does. Making time to ‘do it yourself’ will build your confidence as a father.
- Most Dads say that it’s only when they bring the baby home that the baby becomes ‘real’ to them. Enjoy this event: plan to make it special for all of you.
- Spending time with your baby in play and taking an active role in introducing your baby to your friends and family will help them see you as the parent you are. You will be amazed at the wonderful service and attention you get in a store when you are carrying your newborn!
- Like mothers, some fathers have ‘love at first sight’ and others talk about taking time to fall in love with their children. There are many ways to have this loving parental feeling come, but spending time holding, playing with and calming your newborn will help you make your baby part of your life, and over time part of who you are as a father.