My wife and I are in our early thirties. We have been married for 10 years and we both have successful careers. Throughout our marriage we have frequently discussed when would be the right time to start a family. We finally decided that this is the year. I really felt I was ready to be a father, but now that my wife is pregnant I’m having second thoughts. I don’t feel that I can discuss my feelings with my wife since we both agreed this is what we wanted to do. I wonder what kind of a father I will be and if I can handle it. Also, I’m not sure I want to share my wife. Is there something wrong with me, or are these just “normal” fears? I’ll be watching your column for your reply.
Don in Moose Jaw
Congratulations Don, what an exciting, yet scary time for you and your wife.
First, I’d like to say that many other expectant fathers also experience the feelings of doubt and fear that you describe. Becoming a father is a monumental event that should not be taken lightly. You are going to become the keeper of a new life, which will bring you years of joy and tears. Your fears are justified, as you will have new and unfamiliar obligations and responsibilities to undertake. I bet that your wife is feeling a lot of the same concerns as you are.
It is very important that you share your feelings with your wife. Do not assume that she isn’t going to understand, she most likely will feel relieved that she isn’t the only one feeling a little overwhelmed with her soon-to-be new role. You may feel more comfortable if you discuss your new roles together and how to fulfill these obligations. For example, have you discussed what role grandparents will play in your child’s life? Will they be secondary caregivers, or do they want to just occasionally be grandma and grandpa? Also discuss your religious expectations for your child. Who will be the godparents? Do you have siblings, or friends you want to be godparents? Discussing these items will help you to include others in your child’s life. Thereby you will feel you have others to turn to when and if your new roles become too overwhelming or demanding. I am sure that grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends will look forward to becoming a part of this new life.
Attending your wife’s doctor’s appointments will also help you to feel a part of the pregnancy. Many men are left out of the pregnancy, yet they are expected to abruptly step into the role of parent once the child is born. This is unreasonable; fathers need an adjustment period as well. Pregnancy provides both parents an opportunity to gradually adapt to their new roles as mom and dad.
After discussing your feelings with your wife, if you still feel overwhelmed, consider seeing a professional counselor. Perhaps you can be referred to a group with other expectant fathers. This will help you to see that you are not alone; your fears are common to many expectant fathers.
Finally Don, I know becoming a new parent can be an overwhelming experience; however, for some things in life there is nothing you can do but take your time and gradually find your own way.
Good luck, I’m sure you and your wife will make wonderful parents.
E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.