Do a quick Google search for newborns and expecting parents and it’s likely that most of the advice that pops up is geared toward the mamas to be.
There’s no doubt that our future moms of the world need a lot of support, but it’s important to also check in on our future dads and ensure they’re getting all the advice and guidance they may need as well.
So, how you can best support your soon to be dad friends as they glide into parenthood? Welcome them to the dad tribe.
The most common behaviors expecting fathers exhibit
First, it’s crucial to be aware that there is no hard and fast rule for how someone should feel about becoming a parent. While one person may feel excited and eager for the baby to come along, another may feel anxious and seem withdrawn.
In general, though, many soon-to-bed dads feel a lack of control, says Dr. Richard Horowitz, a parenting and family coach with Growing Great Relationships, LLC in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Because their partners are the ones experiencing an influx of changes on a physical and emotional level, men can oftentimes feel like bystanders.
“Some [men] are quite detached and almost ignore the changes that their partners are experiencing [while] others focus on the practical things that they feel they have control over such as the handiwork needed to prepare the baby's room,” Dr. Horowitz said.
“Others try to be empathetic and involved by commenting on the growing fetus, going to doctor visits, and talking about the wonder of becoming a dad,” he added.
Regardless of how your friend may be responding to their growing family, below are some tricks and tips for supporting them.
1. Do not judge
According to Dr. Horowitz, it’s crucial to refrain from judging soon-to-be dad friends – especially if said friend appears to be detached or withdrawn.
For women, oxytocin – also known as the bonding hormone – starts flowing early on in the pregnancy.
With men, on the other hand, it takes a bit longer. For most, the real bonding occurs after the baby is born, when they have a chance to play, cuddle, and connect with their baby.
Be patient with your friend – and hold back from projecting your expectations onto them.
2. Share war stories
If you are a father yourself, share your own fears and anxieties that you once had about becoming a dad. Get real with him.
According to Dr. Horowitz, this can help future dads realize they are not alone and everything they are experiencing is completely normal.
Did you panic about all the new responsibilities? Tell him. Did you worry about your finances taking a hit or giving up your freedom? Share it with him. Let him know it’s not unusual to have these feelings.
Welcome to parenthood.
Half your day is spent feeling as though you walked into a sliding glass door you never saw.
— A Bearer Of Dad News (@HomeWithPeanut) February 27, 2018
3. Emphasize the best parts of being a father
Try to help your friend refocus on the positive aspects of becoming a father – especially if you have a family of your own.
What do you love most about being a parent? Why is it so special and fulfilling?
Clue your bud into the awesome, rewarding aspects of parenthood.
4. Give them some reading material
There are plenty of modern guides available that give men a crash course in fatherhood and cover everything from how to bond with the baby, how to manage finances, and keep the pre-parenthood jitters at bay.
5. Keep hanging out with him
When in doubt, keep hanging out as usual with your friend. A lot is changing in their life, so some stability with friends can help them relax and decompress.
“There’s a lot to be said for making sure that new dads-to-be are – to the extent possible – keeping up with normal social routines,” Dr. Shane Owens, a board certified behavioral and cognitive psychologist based in Commack, New York, advised.
Simply inviting your friend over for a few hours will help them feel supported, says Owens. Not to mention, it’ll provide a natural opportunity to check in and ask your friend how he’s doing.
For more baby preparation tips and tricks, check out our Baby on the Way! Pinterest board: