Becoming A Dad: What You Need To Know
By Nancy Da Silva
In all the excitement of announcing a pregnancy, the dad sometimes gets pushed aside. It’s as if the mother created the baby inside of her all by her lonesome.
Science is advanced, no debate there. But it’s not that advanced just yet.
Men are told that they have to be patient, gentle and understanding. They are bombarded with all this information about the changes your wife or girlfriend will be going through, both physical and emotional.
For the most part the media portrays fatherhood as an accident, an outcome of sex that men are aware of but are willing to take their chances with for the purpose of ‘getting some’. When it happens, the men who take responsibility for that outcome are applauded for ‘stepping up to the plate’.
Women are looked at as the ones who actively pursue getting pregnant. There’s apparently no male ‘biological clock’.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing more on a planned pregnancy and what you, the father, need to know when you decide to take that life changing step.
The reality is there are many men out there who want to become fathers. They get into relationships and marry fully intending to grow a family. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not.
Let’s think about why you want to become a father? When you and your spouse talk about growing a family, does the idea fill you with excitement and happiness? You want to make sure you’re not doing this just to make your spouse happy. Regardless of whether you grew up in a happy home or not, do you want to have a child because you want to lavish the love and affection you may or may not have grown up with on this little human being and feel the pride of teaching them how to be strong, respectful and loving adults?
If you grew up in an abusive home, are you looking to this new baby to ‘fix’ your feelings in regards to your past? That’s a heavy burden to be placed on an infant’s shoulders. You might want to talk to a professional to help you work through your past and put those feelings to rest so you can bring this new life into your midst from a feeling of love and peace.
How ready are you? In every way, financially, emotionally, physically, if you want your baby to have the best start in life, you’d better be ready. A child will use up every reserve you have in the course of its care so that if you’re not prepared and not in a situation to replenish those reserves, you will be worn out before your baby’s first birthday.
Let’s look at your financial situation. You and your spouse have decided to try and get pregnant. Can you afford a child? Not just right now but for the next eighteen years? Are you in a stable job where you are making a good living with good prospects for a higher and higher position as the years go by? Do you enjoy what you do? If you’re in a job where you dread going in every morning, you might begin to see your child as a burden, making you stay in a job you hate so that you can support him or her.
What methods of birth control do you and your spouse use? If she’s on the pill you might have to give yourself a window of a few months for the contraceptive hormones to leave her system. If you’ve used condoms primarily you should be ready to go.
I say should because there’s an important irony to consider. By the time you are financially stable in your job to be able to support a child; your age might make it difficult to father a child. Most men become financially stable by their mid forties, current economy notwithstanding. Sperm count and motility also begin to diminish at this time. Once you and your wife have made the decision to become parents, you want to make sure you’re both in peak physical condition. This means no smoking and reducing your drinking, at least for the time you’re trying to conceive. If you’re in your mid forties or older, you might want to ask your doctor to run some fertility tests just to make sure there are no impediments to conception, and if there are, that they can be dealt with as early as possible.
Is your home ready for a baby invasion? I don’t mean baby proofing just yet. You won’t have to worry about that for at least a year or two. I mean is the home you’re in now, the home you want to raise your new family in or do you plan to move if you decide to have more children later? Is there enough room for a nursery? An extra bedroom? Is it a child friendly place that your little one/s will feel safe and happy in?
Are you ready to be a father to both a boy and a girl? There’s no more unsettling feeling than having a picture in your mind of playing ball with your boy and having to readjust that picture to include Barbies and tea parties instead.
Probably the biggest thing to consider when you decided to become a father is your relationship with your spouse. If there are problems in your marriage, a baby will not ‘fix’ these problems but exacerbate them. Your home needs to be a place of love and peace where your child can learn what it is to be respected and cherished, where he can flourish under your guiding hand to be a happy adult. Then and only then will you truly be ready to make the decision to become a father.