I was talking to a couple of fathers recently, friends of mine, and they revealed that they were both particularly terrified by the prospect of becoming dads, although they were both keen to become fathers. From all the discussions I have had with my ‘father’ peers that have had ‘daddy blues’, it is usually one of two giant fears. They either say, “I’m not sure I’ll make a good dad” or the other rather irritating one, “I don’t want to give up my fun-filled, carefree life of being the ‘bad-boy’ gift to all women to settle for a miserable world of tears, sleepless nights and dirty diapers!”
But if a man like my father turned out to be a great dad then absolutely anyone who accepts the responsibility and opens up to the emotion can be a great dad too. My father, by his own admission was a happy-go-lucky typical bad boy, felt irresistible and knew just how attractive he was (because he always was). Nevertheless, he too felt threatened by parenthood. Unfortunately I never found out how he overcame those fears and turned out to be the great dad he was but I have a few ideas for dads that I think worked for my dad.
Be supportive. Being a good dad starts with being a good husband or partner. Get involved from the moment you learn that you are expecting a baby. Being supportive to your partner also helps you start the bonding process with your baby. Every baby needs a stable, loving home so do not be afraid to love and show love.
Be considerate. Allow the mummy some time off. She needs time for herself, but she’s so busy being a mom, she probably won’t remember to care for herself. Make her take breaks especially as a new mom. Watch the baby for a while as she naps, or if her mother lives nearby, have her take some time to visit her.
Be affectionate with your baby, especially as they get older. Children need love, but they don’t understand the word “love” on any level. They will understand a loving touch, hugging, kissing and playing with them. Positive attention and contact makes them feel loved. If you feel too ‘manly’ to show love in this way, get over it! A child that knows he is loved is a happy child, the kind that runs and jumps into your arms when they see you.
You will never regret being affectionate with your child, because later in life, a quick hug, a squeeze of the hand, a pat on the shoulder or even a smile across the room may be able to convey the most reassuring, comforting and healing message. It is saying “I love you” in code. By the way, high-fiving doesn’t count because that is code for a celebration, not a sign of affection.
Enjoy every moment, learn and give of yourself freely.