Top 10 New Dad Fears
Real dads dish on what had them scared out of their minds before baby arrived.
Even if your guy is super-pumped to be a Dad, chances are he's a little freaked out too. Here are a few of the biggest new-daddy fears (and some things you both can do to ease the pressure).
FEAR #1: “Will I do everything right?” —Andrew
MOM TIP: Let him know that it's okay to be clueless. “Any father can care for his child,” says psychotherapist Tammy Gold, founder of Gold Parent Coaching. If he doesn't know how something works, help him learn and then back off to give him a shot. Practice makes perfect.
FEAR #2: "I fear not being able to properly provide for my family once baby is here.” —Brian
COUPLE TIP: Do your homework to get a feel for what you'll really need to spend. “You can get a rough enough estimate,” says Gold. “Then make a baby budget — no different than how you’d make a house budget.” Having a written game plan can relieve some serious stress.
FEAR #3: “I'm scared that everything we do will now be centered around babies.” —Hendrik
COUPLE TIP: Relax. Like Gold says, “If an active social life is important to you, you're going to make that work with one kid or ten.” Children are remarkably portable, and there's a good chance your baby-free pals aren't going to just vanish.
FEAR #4: “I guess my biggest concern is that having a baby will force me to grow up. I'll have to drink less beer, play less video games...” — Tom
DAD TIP: Yes, life is going to change. But it's okay if you still need some time for yourself. “Verbalize one thing you need and have your wife verbalize one thing she needs,” says Gold. Maybe you can take baby-duty on Tuesdays while she has a girls' night, and she'll hold down the fort so you get Thursday nights with the boys.
FEAR #5: "Lack of sleep, because it makes me really cranky." —John
COUPLE TIP: “You WILL sleep again,” says Gold. Just not at first. In the meantime, get a sleepy-time strategy. Will one of you handle the late-night shift on weekdays and the other on weekends? Can a grandma help out sometimes? Make a plan that works for you. (You'll live through it. Everyone does.)
FEAR #6: “That something will be wrong with the baby.” —Joe
COUPLE TIP: “Talk to your caregiver. Get statistics. Don't sit at home and stew quietly,” Gold urges. “Of course there's the unknown. But once you get the real stats, you can get those fears under control a bit.”
FEAR #7: "All the crap that will be everywhere around the house."—Nate
DAD TIP: “There's not some monster that's going to come in and steamroll over you,” Gold laughs. If it's important to you to maintain some order, make a plan with your spouse to do so. Follow Gold’s lead: “I have a house with baby-friendly and nonbaby-friendly areas,” explains the mother of two.
FEAR #8: "Not being a good father. I know what it's like to not have a father, and I don't want to repeat the cycle." —Zac
DAD TIP: “A lot of fathers will try to either emulate their father or do the opposite. Talk about it. Be open and verbalize what your problems are,” says Gold. The great news here is that you aren't your dad. You aren't anyone but you. “You can make your way as a father in any way that you want.”
FEAR #9: "I'm deploying for a year and I'm scared that when I get home, she won't know who I am and she'll cry when I try to hold her." —Dan
MOM TIP: For military families, Gold stresses rituals. Maybe it's a daily call or kissing his photo at bedtime. “Even better, do video chats if you can, or make a video to play every evening. Even if baby doesn't meet the father but sees him every night, she WILL have an impression of that daddy.”
FEAR #10: “Not being able to ‘soothe’ her when she cries.” —Tony
MOM TIP: Be prepared to help jump-start the bonding. “It's a mother's job to not take the baby out of Dad’s arms when it cries, but to do the reverse,” Gold says. “Push the bonding process. The greatest thing that can happen to fathers and babies is mothers.” A new father may feel helpless for a few if he can't stop the squalling, but it won't take long for him to have this whole Daddy thing down pat.