Reflection points for becoming a new dad
Having a child is one of the greatest responsibilities of your lifetime. That’s why it’s little surprise that most men don’t think they’re ready for fatherhood.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve planned it or you’re hit with a big surprise, nobody should feel like they’re 100% ready for the task of nurturing another human being to maturity.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. That doesn’t mean you’re not fully capable of excelling at it either.
Sure, your parents, friends and co-workers can give you advice, but how do you know if you’re really ready to become a father? Ultimately, you must look deep inside yourself. Instead of asking yourself – am I ready to become a father? Try asking yourself these 10 questions instead.
Do my partner and I have a good support system in place?
Have you ever heard the African proverb – it takes a village to raise a child? Well, you might not have a whole village to help you out, but you can’t do everything by yourself either. Before you decide to become a father, you should look around you to see if you and your partner have family members, friends, or a support group that can help you with the pregnancy and upbringing of the child.
Your parents are treasure troves of real-world experience, but you could just as easily tap a local parental group to field questions about parenting, especially during the early stages. Essentially, you need two types of support: one for healthcare needs and the other to help with personal issues around the house.
Do I have close friends and relatives with children?
Your interpersonal relationships play a vital role in your overall well-being. A comprehensive study published in the scientific journal Personal Relationships from 2017 concluded that friendships are just as important to your health and well-being as family bonds, even more so when you get older.
When you have a child, you’ll have less time to spend with your friends and you’ll also have different priorities. That’s why it’s important to align yourself with friends and relatives that also have children. When your close friends and relatives have children, you get a bird’s eye view into their family life. Talk to them and get their advice.
They can help you work through your own fears and misgivings about becoming a dad, as well as offer up some helpful tips and tricks. You can also spend more time with them and their kids to gauge how you might feel when spending time with little ones of your own.
Are my finances in order?
There’s no getting around the financial cost of being a father. The Department of Agriculture estimated that in 2015 the cost of raising a child until the age of 17 was $233, 610. Now, that might seem astronomical, but nothing will cost that much all at once. It’s always been expensive to become a father, but parents have always found a way to make it work. That might mean shopping at a discount store for groceries, or charity shops for clothes, but the cost of parenthood can be managed with some mature decision-making skills.
A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that lower income families have a difficult time providing safe environments and enriching activities for their children. So, start saving your money early and spending less and you’ll avoid becoming a part of that statistic.
How well do my partner and I communicate?
Successful relationships thrive on good communication, doubly so when there’s a child involved. It’s important to discuss how you’re both feeling about the new addition to your family. It’s a decision that you should make together. If there are aspects of the actual birth that make you uncomfortable, then don’t hesitate to mention them.
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Discuss your expectations for each other. If you don’t feel comfortable feeding the baby, then arrange for other ways that you can help. Parenting depends on a rhythm. You wind up doing the same tasks day in and day out. So, you need to communicate with each other about which roles you’ll take on.
Am I happier lounging at home than going out for drinks with my friends?
Stumbling into your living room in the wee hours of the morning should get old at some point. If you enjoy kicking back on the couch and watching a good series on Netflix more than you enjoy having drinks with co-workers and friends, chances are high that you’re starting to settle down.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific age when this will happen. It varies from guy to guy. When you have a child, you’ll have greater commitments and coming home wasted won’t help you out at all. So, consider whether or not you can sacrifice the party scene before committing to parenthood.
Do I have a settled career path?
Becoming a father touches nearly every aspect of your personal and professional life. You’ll need a steady source of income to handle additional expenses and provide a stable environment for your child’s growth and development.
If you’re in-between jobs or still pursuing your education, then it might not be the ideal time to become a parent. Contrary to what you might think, being a dad doesn’t have to negatively affect your career path. In fact, a survey of 1,000 Canadian fathers found that becoming a father didn’t have negative effects on their careers and 10 percent of the participants reported that they earned more money.
How good am I with a tool box?
Not every man is handy around the house, but it sure does help when you’re having a baby. You’ll need to assemble new furniture and fix all the old furniture that your toddler is certain to break. If you have a sudden urge to hang new shelves or knock out walls, then the chances are high that you’re ready to be a dad.
DIY projects are a form of nesting behavior. Mary Dodge, a family therapist from Seattle says “Male nesting is a way for men to feel connected to the pregnancy. It tends to be something physical they can do to feel involved as well as preparing for their role as protector and provider.”
Am I willing to let someone else be the star of the show?
Being a Dad means taking a step back and letting other people become a priority in your life. Before children, you might be the alpha in the relationship and get lots of attention. Believe it or not, that will change.
During your partner’s pregnancy, you won’t get much attention at all. If you’re a good man, you’ll be a provider, a punching bag, a sounding board and a constant support for the mother of your child.
Your work takes place backstage from now on. When your child is born, even your own parents will look past you to get a snuggle with that little bundle of joy.
Am I willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the baby and my partner?
Before you have children, your life is largely your own. You can take days off, spend your excess cash, and bitch and moan about all the little things in life that bother you. Being a dad requires sacrifice. You might have to work more hours during the pregnancy to afford baby supplies.
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On average, you’ll get about four hours of sleep a night during the first 6 months of your child’s life. You also won’t get as much intimate time with your partner because her body and mind are under a great deal of stress. Being a dad is a thankless business.
You’ll be expected to work twice as hard, and you’ll rarely get a pat on the back. Instead, your reward will giggle and look at you in the morning every day and melt your heart to a mushy puddle.
What kind of father do I want to be?
Lastly, you should think about your own experiences with your father. As a child, you might have noted aspects of his parenting style that you liked or disliked. This is the time to recall those details and determine what type of parent you’ll become.
Will your disciplinary style be strict or lenient? What will be the nature of your relationship with the child’s mother? Will you provide an environment that nurtures emotional intelligence, or will you value goal-setting and task completion?
This is one of the hardest questions to ask yourself because it brings up complex emotions and memories from your own childhood. This is when you’ll need to slay some demons from your past and look inside yourself for proactive solutions.
Your New Role
If you’re wondering if you’re ready to be a father, then take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. It’s a normal question that every potential father has asked himself, but you shouldn’t dwell on it. Take a proactive approach and ask yourself more targeted questions that will leave you feeling prepared and empowered for fatherhood.
If every man waited until he thought he was ready to have a baby, then there’d be no babies. The truth is – you’re never truly ready until it happens. You just have to find a way to adapt to the changes taking place and try to do the best that you can.