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Realizing You're a Dad

This article can help men understand their role as father in a growing family.
Realizing You're a Dad

Realizing You're a Dad

When should it hit you that you're a dad? For some new fathers it is while they are still expecting the baby. For others, it happens quickly once the baby is born or when they first hold the baby. But sometimes it doesn't happen until later, and that's okay too.

With all that is going on those first few days, you might not realize that you're a dad until the first time your baby grasps your finger or the first time he smiles at you. For some dads it may not even happen until the first time your baby says "dada." If you are not feeling like a dad, you likely need to spend more time bonding with your baby.

The New Dad's Role

Knowing what role to take that first month after his baby is born can be difficult for a new dad. The role of the new mom is well defined, but dads don't always know what's expected of them. And different families will have different needs and expectations, which can make things even more confusing.

When you're trying to determine your role, it can help to simply have a talk with the new mom to figure out what your family needs from you. Should you try to stay home from work for a few weeks? Should you help care for the baby—for example, taking over some feedings and changing diapers—or should you just help around the house?

If mom wants to spend most of her time bonding with her baby, having dad take over some extra household chores can be extremely helpful. So you might do the laundry, cook the meals, or buy groceries, if those aren't things that you already are doing. For a new mom who just needs to catch up on sleep, it could be most helpful to take over with the baby for a while and give mom a break.

Dealing with Negative Emotions

A dad's role also can be shaped by his feelings toward his new baby. Although you might expect that all fathers would feel love, pride, and joy toward their baby, some instead feel resentment and jealousy, because they may no longer have their partner's full attention. If you find yourself having any of these feelings, do what you can to help overcome them before they harm your relationship with your child. You can either find someone else to watch the baby so you do have some special time alone with your partner, or you can make an effort to get more involved and do more things together with her and your baby.

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