As a father myself, I distinctly remember my biggest fear when I became a dad: “I am going to be a terrible dad because I don’t know what I am doing.”
As fathers, and frankly as men, competence and confidence are very closely linked. If we feel we are not particularly competent at a particular task, we tend to lack confidence in ourselves, too. While that may not sound all that unusual, the problem lies in how many of us “guys” handle that ball of emotions. Unfortunately, many of us tend not to engage in an activity at all if we fear that we are not going to be good at it.
For our children and their mothers, this can have disastrous consequences. Just look at the enormous father absence problem we have in our nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of three children in America lives in a home absent his or her biological father. Many of these fathers are guys who just didn’t think they had much to contribute. Maybe they lacked parenting skills or money or something else made them feel worthless. So, they checked out entirely.
And when it comes to expectant fathers, this problem is magnified. When a father is in the midst of a pregnancy decision – deciding whether he will encourage the woman he got pregnant to have an abortion – a major influence on his decision is going to be his perception of how he will perform as a father and his perception of the mother’s perception of his performance. Did you get that? If the dad thinks that the mom thinks he won’t be a good father, he is more likely to think that abortion is the most helpful path for both of them to take. And this can be complicated if he is already a dad and how he thinks he is doing in that role, whether he is involved with his other child(ren) or not.
However, when we take a moment to step away from the high stakes and high emotion of the pregnancy decision, what we will be able to see is that life can be affirmed and families can be formed if we proactively help fathers build their skills, confidence, and, therefore, engagement in the lives of their unborn children and their expectant mothers.
Many times, a dad just needs a push, or an encouragement, or an affirming word to tell him that he is valuable -- that his child and partner don’t need perfection; they need him. And then – and this is critical -- you back up your words with practical skill building resources and training to help him “live out” his encouragement.
This is why Care Net’s new Doctor Dad® workshops are so important. They help dads build their practical child safety and health care skills during exactly the time when they are in the midst of a pregnancy decision. They provide hands-on training for dads of newborns by focusing on four key areas:
These are the skill areas that hesitant expectant fathers need to know they can master as they make a pregnancy decision. Once made, these educational workshops help dads support their life decision and that of their partner. Remember, as we often say, life decisions need life support, and Doctor Dad® is tailor-made life support for fathers.
Take a look at this video to learn more about how Doctor Dad® workshops can transform the way your pregnancy center serves fathers and prepares them to make, stick to, and live out life-affirming decisions for their children.