Facing your new dad fears

Everyone experiences a wide range of reactions to becoming a parent, from excitement to ‘WTF is this really happening!?’ And the inner world of dads is no different – we just talk about it less.

As the big day approaches, it’s pretty common to feel stressed, anxious or fearful about what’s to come and the changes that are about to happen in your life.  

We’ve got some tips to help you shift your thinking, work through your emotions and relax a bit. After all, there’s plenty of time for sleepless nights once the baby arrives. 

DAD TIP #16
Notice when you’re fuelling your worries. If you find yourself 10 pages deep on Google, it might be time to step away. It’s like a jungle back there – everyone’s an expert – and not helpful for a racing mind.

TOP FOUR NEW-DAD WORRIES 

If worries about becoming a dad are keeping you awake, you’re not alone – lots of other dads-to-be are tackling the same fears. Here are the big ones we hear from new dads...and what you can do about them.

1. What if something goes wrong?

What if there are birth complications? What if there are issues with my baby’s health?

It’s completely normal to ask lots of ‘what if’ questions when something as big as having a baby is about to happen. This is how our brains deal with uncertain situations. But it’s important to try and keep things in perspective.

Get the facts – talk to your midwife or doctor about your concerns. Getting some stats can help you re-align your thinking and remember the difference between what’s technically possible versus what’s more probable. Then, try to park these thoughts when they turn up, and instead focus on the things you can control – like your birth plan, how you can support your partner on the big day, and getting your to do-list ticked off.

2. Am I ready for this responsibility?

Am I ready to be a dad? Am I ready for the lifestyle change? Losing my freedom? Are we stable enough as a couple?

The first thing to know is that very few dads feel ready, so you’re in the majority. Becoming a dad triggers a ‘provider’ mindset which can be really scary for a lot of men.

Our research shows that nearly 80 per cent of dads feel they need to be ‘the rock’ for their family, which they interpret as a stable, unemotional base of support. Men get into trouble when they swallow this pressure of responsibility. Bottling it up and trudging along trying to meet all of your commitments to work and family can make things worse.

If you feel overwhelmed, connect with people around you. Or if you’re feeling this way for more than two weeks, get some professional support

3. Will I be able to do it?

I don't know how to change a nappy, settle a baby, or build a portacot. How will I cope without sleep?

Of course you’re doubting yourself – it’s very hard to feel confident about something you've never done before. But parenting is a skill you’ll learn as you go.

Don’t expect to be an expert from day one (or ever, really!) Adopting the mindset that “I’m learning how to do this parenting thing, and I’ll improve over time” will help you to not beat yourself up too much when you do make a mistake.

And trust us, everyone stuffs up from time to time – it’s no big deal. 


4. Am I enough? Can I be a good dad?

How can I look after a baby when I can barely look after myself?

This is a big one. Self-doubt. It often bubbles away underneath, and fuels many of the fears closer to the surface. In all the chaos and self-doubt, remember that connecting with your baby and your partner is all that matters. Your baby doesn’t care how much money you have in the bank or what your job is.

It’s a cliché but remember there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Lowering your expectations and being good enough is what's called for.

REMEMBER...

Don’t ignore your fears. Men often try to suppress or avoid negative emotions by distracting themselves with work, hobbies or partying. It’s important to give your fears a voice.

Talking about how you’re feeling with your partner will bring you closer together, which is exactly what you both need to deal with this major life adjustment.

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