How Men Really Feel about Pregnancy and Fatherhood
In one episode of The Simpsons, the TV breaks, leaving the family to entertain themselves with stories of when the kids were born. One of several things we discover is the real reason Homer went bald: there’s a flashback sequence showing him, upon learning about each of Marge’s three pregnancies, shrieking and pulling out his hair.
Homer’s reaction is overstated, of course—the kind of caricaturized emotion we expect from cartoons. But as is often the case, The Simpsons portrays a cultural reality prominent enough to have created its own stereotype: the uncertain, anxious new father.
Pop Culture and the New Dad
Versions of this nervous new dad character take center stage in films such as She’s Having a Baby (starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern) and Nine Months (featuring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore), both of which depict men who overcome initial terror to embrace their roles as dads. Similarly, many new-fatherhood manuals assume—and thus perpetuate—an image of bewildered, befuddled dads-to-be reflected in the books’ titles:
- Dada: A Guy’s Guide to Surviving Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the First Year of Fatherhood, by Michael Crider
- She’s Having A Baby—And I’m Having a Breakdown, by James D. Barron
- The New Father’s Panic Book: Everything a Dad Needs to Know to Welcome His Bundle of Joy, by Gene B. Williams
- Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads, by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden
- Keeping the Baby Alive till Your Wife Gets Home: The Tough New ‘How-To’ for 21st Century Dads, by Walter Roark
- Breathe: A Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy, by Mason Brown
- My Boys Can Swim!: The Official Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy, by Ian Davis
- The Everything Father-To-Be Book: A Survival Guide for Men (Everything Series), by Kevin Nelson
- Pregnancy: A Man’s Survival Guide, by Adam Hunt
There you have it, ladies: the typical man views pregnancy and pregnant women as crises best approached with advice, facts, and humor. (Note the recurring themes of survival, exaggerated disaster, and practical, comprehensive knowledge as the solution.)
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