Couples canplan to have a childfor years but suddenly feel a sense of overwhelming fear when they find out they are expecting. A study published in theJournal of Perinatal Educationfound that new dads can have big fears, including fear of harm to the mother or newborn, lack of knowledge, and fear of health problems associated with childbirth.
If you are expecting your first child and you find that you are wrestling with these emotions, rest assured they are more common than you
Identify What You are Afraid Of
Some men find it easier to articulate their precise worries; others simply feel that ‘something is wrong’ without really being able to identify why. If you feel stuck emotionally, therapy can be a godsend, since therapists are trained to help you identify and build a strategy for emotional blocks.
If you prefer to go at it by yourself, consider art therapy (drawing your state of mind) or journalling. For the latter, you can just write every thought that comes in your head, as though you were brainstorming, leaving a day or two before looking back and trying to discover the source of fear. Is it the fear of the costs of a new baby?
Are you worried about the moment of delivery? Or is it changing mechanics between you and your partner you need to adjust to? You need to know what is truly bothering you so you can create a strategy to lessen its impact.
The Days Go Slowly, the Years Fly By
You may wish you had left a baby for later but the truth is that there may never be a ‘perfect time’ to have one. The biggest fears with respect to changes in your relationship with your partner (for instance, your sex life) will be slowly allayed as the months go by and you ace your routine as new parents. What about fears that won’t necessarily go away, though, such as the costs associated with buying clothes, food etc, for your family? These need a strategy, and you may need to make changes in your work life to accommodate one or more children.
Taking the Rein of Your Finances
The best way to face fear, is by being as informed as possible. This applies to the personal elements of new fatherhood, but also to the financial ones. List down the expenses of your child’s first year. A USDA study called Expenditures on Children by Families found that parents earning less than $59,000 would spend a little less than $10,000 on their child per year, in the first couple of years.
Think of how you can liquidate assets to afford these expenses, or how you can cut on monthly costs to boost savings. List expenses like credit cards, going out, and entertainment, and work out a reasonable budget that will enable you to save yet still enjoy your life as a couple.
You can also consider starting a college fund, and think about setting up a Flexible Spending Account, which will help you pay for out-of-pocket health care cost, without paying taxes on the money held in this account.
One of the most important steps you can take when fatherhood is imminent, is sorting out your financial situation. A financial adviser will help you identify new avenues of income, liquidate assets if necessary, or make important investments for your child’s future. Finances are only the tip of the iceberg, of course.
Being a new dad also involves making big changes to your own life and to your relationship. Talk to other new dads, do a lot of reading, and watch entertaining, funny programs on fatherhood. Be with people who lift your mood and make you feel that you can handle anything – even one of the most challenging new roles you will be taking on: that of fatherhood.