Why Every Expectant Father Should Read The Books
Baby books are more important than you realize.
In the movie “Knocked Up,” the expectant father played by Seth Rogen famously put off reading the baby books his pregnant girlfriend gave him. Baby books like “What To Expect When Expecting” possess a treasure trove of information, but like Seth Rogen’s character, many men have a hard time cracking them open. An acquaintance of mine was even so opposed to these books that he characterized them as “a total waste of time,” but he and the rest of the anti-baby book boys are wrong.
Though I think all expectant fathers should read these books, I’m not surprised that many don’t because a lot of men refuse to read instructions no matter what they’re for. Growing up I had a lot of buddies who drove me nuts because they refused to read the instruction manuals of video games (leading to hours of boring game play as they figured things out), and now as an adult I even have friends who don’t read the instructions for power drills! A big reason these men are against reading instructions is machismo. In their eyes needing to read the instructions to figure out how to do something is a sign of weakness, and you can bet that if they’re not going to read the instructions for a power drill, they’re not going to read baby books.
There are a couple other reasons many first time fathers-to-be refuse to read the baby books. One is because they wrongly assume that taking care of a baby is uncomplicated, and the other is because they think there will be plenty of people around once the baby is born to show them the ropes like friends, parents, and maternity ward nurses. While those people can and do offer a lot of invaluable advice, men shouldn’t expect to learn everything from them.
Like Seth Rogen’s character in “Knocked Up,” my wife gave me a bunch of baby books before the birth of our first child, but unlike Seth, I didn’t need quite as much prompting to read them. In hindsight, though, I didn’t read them with as much care as I should have (nor did I read them in their entirety). When our daughter, Madeline, was born twelve weeks premature and raced to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I found myself unprepared for what laid ahead of me. After reading the literature given to me by the NICU director, I spent the entire first day at the hospital in the waiting room frantically reading the prematurity sections of the baby books to help me understand what my family was going through. I remember feeling stupid for having been caught less than totally prepared, and looking back I know it would have been much easier if I didn’t have to play catch up.
Thankfully, the majority of new dads won’t find themselves in a situation as scary as I did, but that doesn’t change the fact that their experience as a new parent will be a lot easier if they’re fully prepared. There’s nothing macho about bumbling through the first few weeks (or even months) of a child’s life while relying on others to tell you what to do. So read the books, guys. It’s better to feel ready and prepared, and if by doing so you avoid being put in the doghouse by the mother of your unborn child as Seth Rogen was, all the better!
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