Even moms. That’s right: women are no more wired to be parents than men are.
Everybody’s gotta learn how to be a parent.
When you fear you’ll drop the baby, say the wrong thing, play too rough, or fail to provide some basic need, you’re not alone.
Sure, being a dad is a tough job. And Dads everywhere wonder if they are up to it.
It takes practice to get good at this fatherhood thing. Like we said, everyone has to learn how to do this job.
Why should you be any different?
Missing a Mentor?
Did your father fail to be a good role model for this job? If so, it’s no surprise that you doubt your abilities. Recent research reported by Psychology Today shows a clear trend: “the boys who got fathered want to be fathers, and the boys who didn't fear it.”
But being afraid of failing doesn’t mean you won’t—or can’t—succeed. Join the growing number of men who have turned their history around and made a better life for their own kids than their dads did for them.
Truth is, being a father is a tall order—with or without a good example to follow.
So take a minute to look into joining the Earn While You Learn program at Choices Pregnancy Center. It’s a great way to gain on-the-job fatherhood training while earning free supplies and equipment for your young family.
Next, read on for the three things you can start doing now to rock fatherhood.
Seize Every Opportunity
You don’t have to be one of those dads who’s too timid to even hold his baby. “I’m afraid I’ll break her,” many first-time fathers say. But it’s easy enough to learn how to hold a baby carefully. Check out this quick tutorial.
Mothers aren’t born knowing how to care for babies any more than fathers are. Like your partner, you just need practice. So take every opportunity to do so. Don’t hand the baby off to Mommy just because you’re uncertain what to do next. You’ll figure it out by trying. If Mom wants to relieve you of duty, let her know you’ve got this, even while you’re still learning.
Don’t Be a Mom
Mothers and fathers parent differently. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s good. Melanie Mallers, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, Fullerton reports that mothers tend to be the parents who give their children a sense of security and safety. “‘We make sure they get to bed on time,” she says. On the other hand, dads may be especially skilled at teaching children how to deal with challenges. Or as this writer puts it, “Mothers protect and dads encourage kids to push the limits.”
So don’t back off all that tickling, wrestling, and climbing that you want to do with your child. It’s by interacting with you, Dad, that your child is most likely to learn how to tame aggression, overcome timidity, and respond in healthy ways to life’s stress.
Stay in the Game
Don’t go AWOL on your child—either by leaving the home or by leaving all the parenting to Mom. Long beyond babyhood, your child still needs you to be involved. Both daughters and sons benefit from your presence in ways they can’t from anyone else:
“Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They know which behaviors are inappropriate…
“Boys who grow up with dads are less likely to be violent. They have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their masculinity and strength in positive ways. Fathers help sons understand proper male sexuality, hygiene and behavior in age-appropriate ways.”
Want some specific ideas on ways to be involved with your kids? Check out this article. It’s full of suggestions for you and your child at every age level.
When All Is Said and Done
Some Father’s Day in the future, what do you want your child to say about you? How about some of these statements for starters:
You can be that dad. Because only you are your child’s dad.
Did you know Choices Pregnancy Center offers on-the-job training for dads?
Contact us for a one-on-one session.
We've got lessons like these, all free for you:
The Dad Difference: Baby Basics – fatherhood skills from pregnancy onward
The Dad Difference: Involved From the Start – fathering from the beginning of your child’s life
Fatherhood — a look at today’s father and all he means to his family
To Be a Father – practical help to connect with your kids, even when you live apart