Prepare for Fatherhood
- Christian Hamaker Senior Editor, Arts & Culture
- 2002 3 Mar
Expectant dads don't need to worry if they'll be up to the job of fatherhood. "Why has God blessed you with a baby?" write Paul and Pam Pettit, authors of Congratulations, You're Gonna Be a Dad. "Because He knows you can handle the job."
Here are some answers to the commonly asked questions of new dads:
- Attitude. Be honest about your attitude toward your baby. "Do you talk to the baby in the womb?" the authors ask. "Are you afraid your wife will give all of her attention to the baby to the point of ignoring you and your needs? Are you fearful of what may happen in the delivery room?"
The Pettits suggest expectant dads be brutally honest before God, and that they seek out the wisdom of their own fathers, pastors and other dads who have been in the delivery room during the births of their own children. Why does it matter? Because, the authors write, "the attitude you bring into the delivery room will have a big impact on your wife. Your role is coach, comforter, and encourager. You will need to be strong for her if she becomes physically weak or emotionally fragile."
- Baby-sitters. Gone are the days, apparently, of asking the neighbors' kids to watch the little one. The Pettits stress qualifications above all else. Does your prospective sitter know how to administer CPR? Could they help dislodge something caught in your child's windpipe?
- Birthing Room. Tour the birthing rooms at your hospital a couple of months before the due date, and begin thinking about the items you'll need to have with you in the room. For instance, the Pettits write, "Some women report focusing upon a lava lamp helps them to lose track of time and concentrate on proper breathing."
- Childproofing. Before the baby comes home, take a fresh look at your home -- from the perspective of your baby. Will the baby get tangled in the electric cords on the floor? Are dangerous chemicals within reach of your child, who will soon be crawling? "Some safety experts recommend getting down on your hands and knees and crawling throughout your house," the authors write. "This will put you at toddler eye level and may help you spot a potential problem."
- Lotion. Your wife will want her back rubbed during pregnancy, so have some lotion on hand to comfort her. What kind of lotion? The Pettits don't say. But they do tell you to master the following phrase: "Let me rub your back with lotion."
- Prayer. Pray often, and don't be shy about asking others to pray for you. Give them specific requests, and try to keep a list of some of the prayers offered up during the pregnancy period. When your child is older, you can show how you prayed for him or her even while they were in the womb.
- Quitting. "Mark our words," the authors write, "there will come a day, dad, where you feel like throwing in the towel. . . . This is normal." But quitting isn't the answer. God gave you a child and the responsibility that goes with raising that child. He will see you through the tough times. "When you're an old man surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you'll be glad you stayed the fathering course," the authors write.
- Regular patterns. You and your wife will need to take regular breaks from the exhausting job of raising a child. How frequently should those breaks be? The authors don't say. But "regular pattern" shows up in the book's "date night" section, while the "fatigue" entry tells you to schedule a caregiver or babysitter on a "regular basis." The entry on "stress" strongly recommends engaging in stress-reducing activities on a "regular basis" and giving your wife "a regular break if she is the one providing the majority of the care." Paul Pettit's essay on scheduling lunches with your older children says these, too, should be scheduled "about once every other month."
Above all, Congratulations, You're Gonna Be a Dad encourages men to get involved during those nine months before the baby arrives, and to stay involved once the baby comes home. "From day one, every chance you get, hold your baby, pray for your baby, read to your baby, talk to your baby, change your baby and enter into his or her world," the authors write. "Reject passivity!" And when the baby arrives, cherish those early days and weeks. "The days and years that stretch out in front of you can be left for someone else to worry about right now. Celebrate the new life that God has placed into your life."
Adapted from Congratulations, You're Gonna Be a Dad, copyright 2002 by Paul and Pam Pettit. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.kregel.com, 1-800-733-2607.
Paul Pettit is associate director of Spiritual Formation at Dallas Theological Seminary and the president and founder of Dynamic Dads. Pam Pettit is a nurse on the neonatal intensive care transport team at Baylor University Medical Center. They have five children.
If youre already a dad, how did you prepare for fatherhood? What have been some of your greatest parenting challenges and rewards so far? If your wife is currently expecting a baby, what are you doing to prepare, and why? What are you concerned about, and what are you excited about? Visit Crosswalks forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.