We all know the prime components of dealing with BIG news: shock, disbelief, anger, denial, negotiation, and eventually acceptance. Our unique profiles in society provide quite an array of father prototypes:
The surprised: self explanatory unprepared and unplanned event – often preceded by finding the home pregnancy test in the dustbin.
The relieved: after persistent attempts fertility is no longer an issue – who’s the man now?
The ‘oops, I did it again! ’: the ‘laatlammetjie’ syndrome, the one night wonder baby or the illegitimate child – suicide seems like an option.
The profound impact of fatherhood on males remains rather intriguing. The masculine empire is instantly challenged with far reaching consequences. A dynamic shift of core priorities often occurs from independence, self gratification and sacrifice. Men seem to volunteer themselves as victims of the fear factor, often paralyzed with uncertainty and despair with the enforced changes.
When one considers the traditional cultural model of fatherhood with its distinct aristocratic highlights of autocracy, oppression and complete indifference of the individual, one cannot help but feel a sense of challenge to shift paradigms when engaging in the true act or anticipation of fatherhood.
Daddy dearest ………. who’s your daddy?
Until recently, the traditional model condemned men who were actively involved in their children’s lives. Elements of nurturing and unconditional love and acceptance were left to the super mom. It has since been proven that involved fathers often gain a new-found sense of purpose that improves their mental health. This in turn, boosts confidence and self esteem.
Fatherhood has positively become more visible and meaningful bearing fruits of intimacy and emotional depth. The old model has lost cultural legitimacy for many. Ignorant views of sensitive dads being less masculine or macho are certainly being eradicated and collaboration with mothers as parental partners has become the order of the day.
The typical emotional response to fatherhood comprises excitement, pride and anxiety. Obvious concerns include the transit of this precious cargo until successful delivery as well as the baby’s health, and off course, the financial load.
Why are we rattled by the prospects of fatherhood?
– feeling unprepared for the responsibility as role model, provider, protector
– coming to terms with sacrifice of time, money and friends
– adjustment to a different life phase
– feeling incapable of achieving or adapting to the above accompanied by misconceptions of fatherhood
– the effect on your marriage and sexual relationship
The Couvade phenomenon has been documented but is uncommon and not well studied. This is where the male takes on some physical signs and symptoms associated with the pregnant mother, namely: vomiting, fatigue and decreased libido.
Several studies have shown that fatherhood can indeed have a physiological effect on men, including decreased testosterone, cortisol and increased female hormone (estradiol) levels. Although the significance of this remains unclear, it is speculated that this is nature’s way of preparing males to become nurturing fathers. Similar changes have been noted in mates of other animal species.
– during pregnancy woman can become more vulnerable and emotionally needy
– the sense of responsibility for both parents often seems overwhelming and unbearable
– men often feel distanced or detached from the process and can easily become jealous of attention – then feel guilty about these feelings
Am I a naturally good father or can I grow into the role?
Parenting skills are a touchy topic in many households, very often culminating in an aggressive, threatened atmosphere. We often hear things like “I did the best I could at the time!” , “You don’t tell me how to raise my children, look at your own!”
These views, granted, are real and the potential which is trapped beyond these insecure and threatened parents is mind blowing.
One is seldom a perfect parent and sharing insight and winning recipes can only benefit you and your family.
Some of us are privileged in the sense that we can utilize our parents’ skills and styles, if those were exemplary and promoted permissive freedom rather than autocratic control.
– qualities which we all need as parents to bring out the best in ourselves and our children encompass the art of balance between being assertive and caring
– responsible and receptive
– loving and intimate
– flexible and solid
– authorative and gracious
– loving unconditionally on a physical and emotional level
The hard facts
– coping mechanisms need to be in place including: stress- , conflict- and
– greater responsibility can promote positive change in lifestyle on an
emotional and physical level
– the effects of parenthood on your sexual relationship can be devastating
if no effective planning and communication are incorporated as early as
– no parent is perfect
– actively involved dads are informed dads
A final word of advice
– be good to yourself, so you can be good to your wife and kids
– establish a work–sport-life balance with regular priority reviews in your decision making
– lead by example – it makes your job easier and promotes self actualization
– stay committed to your family as a priority – this will deepen your relationships and strengthen the family identity
Always remember that what you put into fatherhood, you will get out.