Are You Wired To Be a Father?
“So, you’re having a baby? That’s fantastic!” Men, how often to do you hear this when you’re an expectant father? It’s okay, you can be honest.
It’s true – you’re not the one doing all the pushing, but you are having a baby. Expectant mothers seem to get all the attention during a pregnancy, but expectant fathers play an important role in ushering in a new baby. That’s why it’s important to build up certain skills and experiences while your partner is pregnant.
You can sing and talk to your unborn child. You can help alleviate your partner’s stress and discomfort. You can attend classes and OB/GYN appointments. Most certainly, you can help your partner get through the actual delivery process. That’s all before your child even enters the world.
Are You Intuitive Enough?
It turns out that this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as an expectant father. If you’re an expectant Dad and you want to be a good father, research shows that you’d better start working on it early.
A study conducted by the New Parents Project used role-playing dolls to monitor the actions of 182 expectant fathers during the third trimester of their partners' pregnancy. The research was published online June 22, 2020 in the Journal of Family Psychology.
Researchers analysed the reactions of expectant fathers while they played with little dolls in their study to determine their level of intuitive parenting. Were the fathers-to-be making sufficient eye contact? Did they show genuine empathy for the baby’s wellbeing? There were several intuitive metrics that researchers looked for.
After the first phase of the study, researchers circled back around with the participants after their child was born. What they found is that expectant fathers who scored highly with role-playing dolls were more likely to be well-adjusted, caring fathers to their real children.
“We were able to detect the capacity for positive parenting in these men before they even became fathers,” said lead study author Lauren Altenburger.
So, the evidence from this study suggests that the capacity for being a good father is based on certain personality traits. “Those dads who were rated as showing more intuitive parenting skills with the doll a year earlier tended to have a more positive interaction with their real child,” Altenburger said.
What Are Essential Parenting Skills for Expectant Fathers?
There were two essential life skills that researchers were able to link to better parenting. The first skill was conscientiousness. Now, that’s a big word, but essentially it means your desire and ability to perform tasks well.
People who are conscientious tend to be goal-oriented achievers who are well-organized and handle tasks in a systematic way. They are sensitive to things happening around them and want to do a good job at anything they put their hand to.
The second essential skill for a good dad is being open to new experiences. You might call this skill – adaptability. It goes without saying that having a child requires some significant changes in your life. When you are skilled at adapting to change, then you have a higher chance of excelling at being father.
When you’re having your first child, you don’t really know what to expect. Each child is different and being a parent is an experience filled with new challenges. If you can manage it without stressing out and make the necessary changes to your habits and lifestyle, then you stand a pretty good chance of being a great dad.
What If You Don’t Have Dad Skills?
Intuitive parenting doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some men struggle with these skills in their interactions with others, not just as expectant fathers. Conscientiousness and adaptability are both on the higher half of the skill ladder. Everyone doesn’t have these skills already in their toolbox.
The New Parents Project research is hopeful because it points to specific skills that can boost intuitive parenting even before a child is born. That means that it isn’t some magic bullet or a natural talent. It can be learned.
“One day at a time.”
Best thing you’ll see today.
Dads, bruh.🌎❤️ pic.twitter.com/dwEsHwkWBi
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 4, 2020
By working on your conscientiousness, adaptability and other important skills before your child arrives, you can better prepare yourself for the parenting challenges on the horizon. Perhaps this role-playing exercise can help parenting experts pinpoint men who need more help in these areas. Then, they could offer some skill building techniques and exercises before their child arrives.
Wellbeing for kids.
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— Sue Atkins (@SueAtkins) July 5, 2020
If you are an expectant father, then you should use your time wisely. Don’t think of the 9 months before your child arrives as some sort of grace period for getting things out of your system. Think of it as an opportunity to get some important skills into your system.
You can take parenting classes and join support groups for new parents. Trained professionals can introduce you to situations you’ll face as a parent and give you the opportunity to ask important questions.
You can also try spending time with someone who is already a father – a parenting coach. You might have noticed that your friends or relatives who have kids changed so much. Well, there’s a reason for that and you can find out how that transition took shape.
Being an expectant father isn’t a glamour role. Hell, neither is being a father, but you can ace it if you work on a few essential skills. Build up your conscientiousness and adaptability during the off-season, so to speak, that 9 months when you’re preparing to see your little one’s adorable smile.
There is plenty of help out there if you know what to look for. There are parenting groups, classes, and lots of literature. Now that you know some of the skills that make for a great dad, go out there and own them.
Are you an expectant father? Are you nervous about the changes taking place in your life or are you embracing the experience? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line anytime.