As a child is born, two new characters emerge, the ‘mother’ and the ‘father’. Being parents brings a great sense of satisfaction as well as an increased feeling of responsibility. Although a woman is given the highest credit for being a mother, the man or the father has an equal amount of role-playing in the upbringing of the new child. From the moment of confirmed pregnancy till the delivery the ‘would be’ father undergoes a lot changes mentally. So let us discover what really goes on in a man’s mind and how does a man get ready to celebrate fatherhood.
“I missed my period”, the words bring a smile on the faces and the first moments of celebrating parenthood begin. There is excitement, happiness, anticipation and what not! Once the pregnancy is confirmed by the doctor, the man begins looking at his partner in a totally different perspective. One starts feeling proud about his partner and the love tends to increase to new heights. Men usually begin to feel anxious about the future financial concerns and the changes in their roles and responsibilities. Proper planning before the pregnancy always helps in reducing such anxiety and enjoy the anticipation of a new member in the family.1,2
The Pregnant Wife
As the weeks begin to pass by and the physical changes begin to appear, the joy increases and so does the anticipations. Initially, the fetus has been referred as ‘it’ will be changed to refer as ‘the baby’, as the pregnancy continues. By the 16–20th week, the woman begins to feel the movements of the baby which can also be felt through the tummy. The male partners usually like to feel these movements by placing their hand or the ear on the abdomen and enjoy them. The sense of attachment to the child begins to mature.
Some men may see the growing child as a ‘rival’ who would enjoy more attention from his partner. This may be especially true, as the sexual activity begins to decline between them. Doctors usually advice avoidance of sexual activity from the second trimester onwards, as this may lead to premature delivery. The expectant fathers must be thoughtful and help their partners to deliver a healthy baby.3
A Responsible Husband
Most men begin to get concerned about their partner’s health and begin to take care of minor household responsibilities. The sharing of responsibilities also increases the bondage between the couple. The male partner should accompany his pregnant partner for the periodic visits to the doctor and help her in performing the exercises advised by the doctor. This helps in reassuring the woman and also has a role in relieving some of her tensions.
Child Birth: The Arrival!
The scenario of the father waiting outside the delivery room or the operation theatre has changed significantly to the father being allowed inside the room and also records the delivery. This change tends to increase the bondage between the father and the newborn child. Fathers also feel an equal amount of tension as much as their pregnant partners. The joy of holding the baby in their hands relieves the anxiety that was associated with the delivery. The couples now become the proud mother and father of the baby. The woman needs much support during this phase, as they tend to suffer from depression (referred to as ‘baby blues’). The male partner should ensure that he provides her with adequate confidence that they can bring up the child together in a very well manner.2
The father is now fully ready to take charge of the responsibilities of the newborn child. Some may take extra time off from their regular jobs in order to be with the new inclusion in the family while others may not be able to do so. This inability may increase the tension between the couple. The responsibilities and care of the newborn may be tiring at times and the man should help his partner in coping up with them. Sharing of these responsibilities help in the building of a loving relation with the wife while, a caring attitude is formed towards the child. It is also important to understand that the growing child may not immediately form the same sort of bondage with the fathers as they form with their mothers. This is especially true in case of boys. Men need to understand that this is a normal phenomenon and give adequate time to the growing child to get adjusted with them.
Bringing up a child is not an easy task, as any impressions left on the young minds leave a mark for the rest of their life. The role of both the mother and father is vital for the child to grow in an environment that is conducive for good character. Along with his partner the man also begins to plan how he wants to raise the child. A lot of questions about the ability to bring up the child in an excellent manner begin to arise in the minds of men. Some may even tend to suffer from depression due to the fear of their ability to handle the increased responsibility.
Some men begin to compare their own fathers as role models and discuss about the advantages and pitfalls in those techniques, while others may not have any role models or may lack of experience with such responsibilities. In some other cases, men may not be able to evaluate the importance of their involvement in such instances. In numerous instances, men (especially young adults) enter fatherhood without having a clear idea of how their new role would be and how it would affect their lives. They may be unprepared for the challenges of fatherhood yet excited to take up the task.
Life of Children: Role of Father
It has been substantiated across various studies that a positive interaction of the father exerts a significant influence on every aspect of the newborn child’s functioning. This influence may begin as early as during infancy.4 The sense of social competence was stronger in children with a good father figure. Such children were also noted to have a lesser incidence of depression when compared to other children who lacked a proper support from their fathers.5 Some studies reported higher college entrance examination scores, higher economic and educational attainment in adolescents whose fathers were encouraging and were involved in their upbringing.6
A father can play multiple roles as a teacher, a disciplinarian and a role model who brings out the development of morality, competence in social interactions, academic achievement and mental health. The fathers of young children tend to involve them in physically stimulating activities while the children grow older the importance is given towards recreational activities such as walks, outings and private talks.7
The upbringing of the child requires an equal participation from both the mother and the father. Although the roles played by the mother and father may be completely different with a difference even in the amount of time spent by each of them, the overall development of the child is based on the involvement of both. They may work in coalition and follow a similar pattern to raise their child. Parents follow various parenting styles while bringing up their children.
Three main types of parenting have been recognized and they include:
- Democratic or authoritative
The authoritarian parents tend to control all the activities of the children by being strict with them at all times. They seldom provide children with options and rarely explain why they want the child to do something they want him or her to do. The children of such parents are unable to analyze situations and think for themselves during later years of development.
Permissive parents in contrast leave their children completely free and do not make any rules and do not set clear boundaries for their child’s behavior. Children of such parents end up misbehaving in various situations of life.
A teacher, a friend and a role model; do you have what it takes to be a father???
Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: August 22, 2011