Do you find yourself caught in conversations relating to adulthood, motherhood or fatherhood as you grow older? I would think that it is all part of the process of growing up, even if one does not intend to have children in the marriage. It has hard for couples to run from questions such as, ‘Would you want kids? When are you expecting?’. Though unintentional, such questions could trigger emotions and other questions that require more time and reflection to access your current life state and readiness for these big changes and commitments.
Why is Fatherhood an important topic to discuss? First and foremost, fathers play a critical role in the development and well-being of their children. Research has consistently shown that children with involved fathers tend to have better outcomes academically, social skills, and emotional health. Further, speaking about fatherhood can help address some of the expectations a couple may have of it. Many fathers today are actively involved in all aspects of their children’s lives, from feeding and changing diapers to attending school events and helping with homework.
Most importantly, raising awareness of this topic can help to support men who are struggling with the transition to fatherhood. Becoming a father can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, and many men may feel unprepared or uncertain about their new role. By providing information and resources about fatherhood, we can help men to feel more confident and capable as parents.
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Characteristics of a Good Father
While we are aware that there are traditional assumed roles and responsibilities of a father such as being the provider of the family, we want to highlight the other roles fathers take up. This includes being a role model to his children by demonstrating values, behaviours and attitudes that they can emulate as they grow and develop. Additionally, fathers should also be a mentor to their children, where they provide guidance, and support to his children as they navigate through life stages, such as making important decisions, dealing with challenges, and pursuing their goals. Lastly, the responsibility of caregiving does not solely depend on mothers. Fathers can also support by helping with the day-to-day care of his children.
The roles and responsibilities above require fathers to have some qualities:
- Patience: Children can be unpredictable and may require a lot of time and attention. A patient father can remain calm and composed even in difficult situations, which can help him to provide a stable and supportive environment.
- Compassion: A father can empathize with his children’s feelings and needs, and respond to them with kindness and understanding. This can foster a strong emotional bond between father and child, and promote a sense of security and well-being for the child.
- Communication: A father who is able to listen actively, express his thoughts and feelings clearly, and provide feedback and guidance when needed can help to build trust and mutual respect with his children, and promote healthy communication habits that can benefit them throughout their lives.
Common challenges experienced in Fatherhood
You are not alone if you feel that there may be some challenges with Fatherhood. Some have experienced difficulty in balancing family responsibilities and work obligations. They may feel that they are being spread thinly, trying to meet the demands of their job while also being present and involved in their children’s lives as both sides require as much attention and energy. It is good to also note that mothers go through a similar challenge, as such, couples should also communicate their capacity and constantly check in with each other.
Another challenge is navigating societal expectations and stereotypes. Fathers can face pressure to conform to traditional gender roles and stereotypes, which can make it difficult for them to express their emotions, prioritise caregiving, or take time off work to care for their children. This can lead to feelings of guilt, or inadequacy, and may prevent fathers from fully embracing their role as a parent. Fortunately, we see an increase in companies who value the importance of paternal presence in a child’s life. As such, human resource policies such as longer paternity leave and childcare leave are in place.
Am I ready for Fatherhood?
If you are asking yourself if you are ready for fatherhood. Perhaps you should take some time to reflect and self access.
Consider your personal values, goals and lifestyle, then weigh out if you need more time to work on yourself or you have the capacity, and time for a child. There is also a need for willingness to accept the change in lifestyle and potentially, habits too, when you transition into fatherhood.
Lastly, not forgetting to consider the financial and emotional impact you would experience – an increase in expenses and increased in responsibilities. It is thus important to raise all these up and discuss with your partner or spouse on the readiness for parenthood and your relationship stability to feel more confident when entering into fatherhood.
What can I do if I feel unprepared?
Photo: PNW Production
In the event you do not feel prepared for fatherhood but is in a situation where you need to think about it, do speak to your partner or spouse first. You may both consider postponing fatherhood until ready or seek counselling or therapy sessions to guide you through any personal issues or some concerns you may have with regard to the transition. It is always encouraged to speak to someone you trust and have already entered fatherhood. There may be some first-hand advice which can be valuable to your decision making or mental preparation.
Other ways you can prepare for Fatherhood include:
- Taking parenting classes or workshops
- Seek advice and support from parenting groups
- Create a plan for balancing work and family responsibilities
- Practice good self-care to maintain physical and mental health
Fatherhood is an important and rewarding role, but it can also be challenging and overwhelming especially for those who feel unprepared. It is alright to not feel 100% prepared, as no one is ever truly ready for all the challenges and joys that come with being a father. Fortunately, there are steps that one can take to feel more prepared, such as seeking advice and support from other fathers, reading parenting books and resources, and taking classes or workshops on child development and parenting. By acknowledging that fatherhood is a learning process and being open to learning and growing, fathers can better navigate the challenges and joys of raising children.
Post Image: Josh Willink