By Scott Bragg
Describing fatherhood as a lifestyle change is a definite understatement. It is a significant life event that leads to joyous moments, adversity, learning experiences, and other new adventures.
With all those changes occurring, there are a few elements of becoming a father that are unexpected by some.
1. There are times that you may feel like being a dad is unpleasant.
If you are reading this before the birth of your first child then this may come as a surprise. On the other hand, you may feel validated and relate to the statement (as current or expectant father). Being a new father is a wonderful blessing. However, self-doubt, anxiety, identity issues, worrying about finances, and other internal conflicts are not uncommon. In fact, studies have shown that approximately 10 percent of new fathers experience postpartum depression. It is , of course, important to find emotional support as a father.
2. At times, you are more sleep deprived and mentally drained than you anticipated.
You are likely prepared for or at least expecting your baby to affect your sleep. That said, it is not to be overlooked that less sleep leads to a temporary decline in IQ, poor memory, slower reaction time, and irritability. So, if you are not as sharp as you were before the baby waa in your life, then this is normal.
3. Challenges are normal.
Being a new father is unfamiliar territory. Many dads often find themselves participating in baby duties such as diaper changing, bottle feeding, swaddling, and even helping out with breast feeding. On the other hand, it is not out of the ordinary for dads to feel inadequate while learning the process. Like anything else, we can “hang in there” and discover what works for us. Trial and error is key here.
Becoming a dad is no doubt stressful in some ways – some positive and some negative. Like other challenges in our lives, we adjust to the situations that will arise. It is important to remind ourselves that we got this. Our lives are not “over”, but there may be times when we need others for help. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to others for assistance. Regardless, fun days are ahead. Enjoy the ride!
Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselor (CAADC) in the state of Pennsylvania. He has passion for helping men with mood disorders, especially new dads.
The purpose of this blog is to educate and entertain. It does not replace treatment from a mental health professional.