Empowering the New Father
An expectant woman spends the better part of nine months gradually acclimating to the reality that her home will soon welcome a new baby. Early on, she reacts to the sight of raw chicken or the smell of steamed broccoli in ways she never imagined she would. Shortly thereafter, she's forced to cinch the waist of her pants with a safety pin instead of a button. Before she knows it, she's being kicked and punched (usually in the wee hours of the night) by a growing person eager to remind her that the days of shopping at the supermarket without having to purchase diapers or pureed peas are almost behind her. When that baby finally makes an appearance, more relief is usually involved than surprise.
The new father, on the other hand, might understandably feel a bit unsure as to where exactly the tiny, slippery, wailing being suddenly placed in his arms came from! After all, he watched his wife blossom, but didn't feel the sensation of a baby growing inside of him. He may believe in his heart of hearts that he experienced "sympathy weight gain," but he can't blame any of it on the weight of a fetus, a placenta, or excess fluid. So when baby makes three, a dad might feel as though he's been tossed into the Parenting River without a proper paddle, yet nevertheless needs to learn how to row as quickly as possible.
According to Armin Brott, parenting expert and author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be, "Probably the most common concern that new dads have is that they won't know what to do with a baby, or that they'll do something 'wrong' (whatever that means in their mind). Because boys typically don't babysit as much as girls, many new dads have never had anything to do with babies before holding their own."
Respecting this fact and finding ways to empower the new (and possibly a bit daunted) father will go a long way toward ensuring that both parents are contributing in ways that work to strengthen their bond as a family.