The Fears of a First Time Father

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The fears of a first time father can be vast and deep. The expected roles of fathers have changed so much over the generations that it can be confusing. While dads were once supposed to be a little more distant and aloof while earning the family’s income, the role of the touchy-feely father eventually emerged. After that there was a call to bring a more manly role model to the family. How is a new dad supposed to understand what his role is supposed to be in a world that keeps redefining fatherhood?

A first time father can look to his own experiences for guidance. This isn’t always easy because not all men feel that they have had successful role models in their lives. Sometimes it isn’t about defining a role model and taking on ideals developed through someone else’s example that creates a good father. Sometimes a good father can look at their experiences and determine what it is that they really should avoid doing.

Financial Fears

Despite the changing roles of gender specific ideals, the new father still feels the pressure to earn the income necessary for his family. One of the quiet and constant worries of a new dad is almost always financial. In fact, this fear can be so great that he forgets to stop and actually enjoy his family. In those moments when everything is really actually just fine, he is living in the future worrying about money and security. While financial planning is certainly recommended for any family, it is just as important to stop and see what is going on right at the moment. Chances are it has nothing to do with money.

Financial fears can cause more stress among new parents than almost anything else. This is because monetary issues can imply that somehow there is a lack of good parenting. The two are not necessarily related. While you want your child to have opportunities as he grows up, not having lots of additional money doesn’t have to make you a bad father, unless you decide to let it. Many happy children grow up with loving and open parents in homes that are not financially well off. The quality of a parent is not defined by his bank account alone.

Causing Pain or Injury

If you’re a new father and you suddenly see exactly how small a newborn baby is one of your top fears is likely to be causing pain or injury accidentally. Babies look quite fragile and often those without experience around newborns are a little afraid to pick them up or hold them.

The main worry that you have to contend with is picking up the baby while making sure his head is well supported. You can do this by sliding one hand under the back and the other under the head and gently lifting both hands at the same time into a cradled position. This will help stabilize the head while offering you the ability to safely lift the baby.

If you are concerned about things like dropping the baby, you are not alone. This is a common fear because it has been done. Newborns are easy to tuck into the arm that you prefer to carry him in. Many new dads sort of hold the baby like a football, tucked up into the arm with the other arm coming under to provide extra support. Most people do not drop newborns. When the baby starts to become more active and wiggle or flop himself about is when they are most likely to be dropped. Paying attention to the body position is how this is avoided over the next year.

Inability to Bond

As a new father you are presented with a tiny person. He doesn’t speak, make eye contact, play, smile, laugh, or understand your jokes. He actually won’t do much more than cry, nurse, and sleep for the first months he is around. This can set you up with a feeling like you might not be able to bond with your new baby.

Bonding is a process. You can’t expect to have moments where you are looking at your infant, staring off into space, and wonder exactly how you’re supposed to relate to him. In all honesty, most people (new mothers included) often have this feeling and simply don’t admit to it. A new baby doesn’t usually pour on the personality in a manner that is easy to relate to. Because a newborn is a lot of work it can be difficult to see the bonding process happening. It is happening.

Every new parent, new grandparent, new aunt and new uncle has the same fears about being able to bond. The bonding process is not well manifested in history because it hasn’t been something that has been written extensively about. It is just assumed that it will happen. During the first month or so you will start to see little things that will catch your attention. By the end of the third month, most new fathers are finding themselves quite comfortable in their bonding process, which will be a lifelong process.

Feeding does help with the bonding process. If you both have decided to bottle feed then you can participate in all of the feedings, including those in the middle of the night. This is not only helpful to the baby’s mother but it is also helpful when facilitating the bond.

Health and Safety

A new baby brings a flood of new concerns for the health and safety of the baby. What is the right sleeping position? How do you make sure you didn’t overlook something imperative in the baby proofing process? How can you guarantee you won’t have a car accident on the way to the grandparents’ home?

Life is filled with risk and it’s easy to see so many new threats that weren’t so obvious before. A new baby means a new sense of vulnerability and that can drive a new father mad if you let it. Yes, there are many precautions that you need to take. Sleeping wedges are recommended for the best sleeping position. Bathing should be something done with care and supervision for many years to come. Car seats should be well secured and appropriately sized while facing the proper direction. Taking the essential steps to help improve the safety of the baby without trying to create an environment that can’t be lived in is how parents cope. You can’t prevent your baby’s first cold whether he gets it at 3 months or 9 months. You can only try to prevent bringing one home to him whenever possible.

Being a New Father

Being a new father can be a fun experience if you don’t let the worries that come with it consume you. Everyone makes mistakes and you will too. In the end, once you learn how to get a diaper on him, carry him safely, feed him with care, and do your best to provide a safe and nurturing environment for him you are doing your job to the best of your ability. That is the best anyone does. Thus, that is the best that you will do as well.

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Elizabeth Danish

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