Overcoming the Past
The second major source of men's ideas about fathering comes from their experiences as sons. For men who want a child but feel strong and consistently negative feelings about fatherhood, exploring these experiences is painful but necessary. The book The Measure of a Man: Becoming the Father You Wish Your Father Had Been by fathering expert Dr. Jerrold Shapiro, provides some guidance for beginning this process. In his work as a psychologist, Dr. Shapiro has found that many men who say they want to be the opposite of their own fathers actually end up resembling them in all the ways they've tried to avoid.
For men to understand and overcome the ideas of fatherhood that they've internalized, Dr. Shapiro lists ten aspects for men to examine, including their fathers' histories, self-perceptions and relationships with women, as well as the men's own feelings towards their dads and the childhood their dads helped shape for them. Dr. Shapiro then suggests that men should get in contact with their fathers if they're still alive, recognizing all along that they themselves must change rather than expect a change in their fathers. Finally, Dr. Shapiro invites men to explore the feelings they have about the kind of fathers, husbands, and friends they want to be.
What should be clear by now to women otherwise confused by their partners' emotional murkiness is not so much what he "really feels" but how to help him (and you!) find out and acknowledge those emotions, positive as well as negative.
This article has addressed only those feelings that fathers-to-be may have toward their prospective children and themselves as providers and nurturers—it's barely mentioned the difficulties men can face in responding emotionally to their pregnant partners (oh, the self-incriminating stories I could tell!).
Nevertheless, the principles are the same: men have subconsciously learned from various sources throughout their lives how to think and act toward pregnancy, and if they're going to remediate what they were taught incorrectly or not at all, they'll need insight and persistence, encouragement and patience. It's neither simple nor easy, but what I will say from my own experience is that of course it's well worth it.