The Fears of Dads-To-Be and How to Address Them

Father holding baby and kissing baby's forehead
Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

Seth was the classic young man who suddenly found himself a dad-to-be. His wife Angela had told him a week or so before about her visit to the doctor and while he really is happy beyond measure, in his quiet moments he finds himself scared to death. He has lots of fears and anxieties mixed in with this incredible sense of fulfillment and happiness. And while Angela is experiencing some of the early physical changes associated with pregnancy, her attitude is incredibly upbeat and Seth does not want her to see him with questions.

Like virtually every other expectant father, Seth is experiencing the early stages of a dad-to-be's sense of impending fatherhood. He has worries about money, relationships, upheaval in life and his own adequacy and preparation to be a father.

Thankfully, also like virtually every other young dad who has passed through this stage, you will adapt to these big changes and transition into a healthy role as a father and a new and redefined role as a man and a husband or partner.

So, as I did with Seth, let's look at the top ten fears that dads-to-be tend to worry about and develop a plan of attack so that these fears and anxieties can lead us through the transition in a positive way.

Will I Be a Good Father?

In their innermost thoughts, men often find this question of whether or not he is ready for fatherhood to be the greatest fear. After all, moving from a young married or partnered adult into a role as a father involves personal sacrifice, developing wisdom and mold this little future boy or girl into a responsible adult.

The answer to this one is that you have the choice to be a good father. As long as you tune into the child, learn all you can about good fatherhood, follow the example of other dads, give up or spread out a few of your favorite non-family activities and stick to a few key principles of effective fathering, you will do fine.

Remember that there are great kids all around you whose fathers have helped them to become amazing - you can do that too.

Can I Afford a New Baby?

Babies bring with them a lot of costs (you will be amazed at the budget impact of disposable diapers alone) and many of those costs will be new to you and your partner. The good news is that with some careful budgeting and creativity, you can make the whole baby-expense thing work. You will need to sacrifice a few things, but when the sacrifice is made for the benefit of your child, it seems a little easier than sacrificing for many other things in life.

What If I Pass out During Labor and Delivery?

Let's face it - there is nothing in our life experience to this point that prepares us for the whole childbirth experience. Unless you are a paramedic, a doctor or a nurse, you probably haven't seen a lot of the things you will see during the process, and even then, I think it is easier to see some things when they are not happening to people you love. The key here, as with any new thing, is training. So enroll with your wife in a childbirth class and get focused on how you can help as her coach. Going into the process prepared and with a defined role will make the entire process more tolerable.

I passed out watching the video of a delivery in our prenatal class, but I was an awesome coach when the main event was underway!

Will My Wife Love the Baby More than Me?

Issues surrounding the changes in the relationship between a man and his wife as they enter parenthood are among the most common areas of concern. After all, she has been your playmate and now she will be your child's mom. The answer is that she will love both of you, but that being a mom of a new baby consumes much of her attention, her body, and her energy. If you measure love by gauging the time you spend alone together, it is time to find a new measuring stick. Actually, as you work together as a team to care for and raise the child, your love and feelings for one another will deepen even more than before if you let them.

Can I Make the Move to Adulthood?

Frequently, young men who are dads-to-be have lived a kind of self-centered life where in many ways they have done what they want when they want. Becoming a father means putting the needs of a child and a family ahead of your own and loving someone more than you love yourself. If you are struggling with the losses of that lifestyle, recognize that you are sacrificing for something larger than yourself. You probably did it in school where you put your studies ahead of fun because you knew that it was an investment in your future. Adulthood and fatherhood are much the same way - the time horizon is just longer.

Can I Really Keep the Baby Safe?

A major fear is what happens when you suddenly have the responsibility for a delicate life that cannot care for itself. Holding the baby the right way, diapering correctly, making sure it is safe for a crib or stroller, babyproofing your home and such fears are normal and real. Again, education tends to counteract these fears, so practice holding a friend's baby, learn all you can about safe baby furniture and so forth. Some learning and practice will help. You and your partner should consider babysitting a newborn for some friends to get a little low-risk practice if this is making you nervous.

How Can I Balance My Job and My Family?

Work-life balance is one of the most significant challenges you will face as a father. Don't be afraid of it - just work at it. Work with your employer to see if they have paternity leave available, or save up your vacation time during the pregnancy so you can take some time off after the baby is born. And as time goes on, make sure you leave work and work and be fully focused when you are home. There is no substitute for quantity time with your family.

Will Having a Baby Kill My Sex Life?

Having your lover be a new mother will certainly change things, but you probably already experienced some of that change during her pregnancy. Particularly when the baby is new and very demanding of time and attention, plan on not being intimate as often as you might be used to.

Your partner will be drained and not as interested, but that will change. Evolve slowly into this new relationship, and stay close to her and the baby. What little you may lose in how your sex life used to be will be made up in added measure with a new level of emotional and physical intimacy.

Will I Be Tied down for the Rest of My Life?

To some extent, yes. After all, parenting is a big job and will consume time, money and attention. So you will have to give up heading out to the club with the guys and partying. But that doesn't mean you stay cooped up forever. The key here is scale. You can still enjoy friendships with others; just not as often or as intensely as you might have at one time. But the change is a good one and if you let it, and just go with the new parenting flow, you will find your life even more rewarding and fulfilling than it was before.

Will My Partner Start Being More Mother than Lover?

Some men worry that, based on what they saw in their own families, their fun-loving, go-with-the-flow partner will turn into the matriarch of the family and run the whole show. The truth is that the relationship will change, but should change for the better. You will have to do a lot of communicating and expressing feelings - things that guys often are not very good at. But the process of growing into this new relationship between father and mother, in addition to husband and wife, can be a sweet experience if you handle it well. So keep the lines of communication open and look for the good in this whole new way of life that we call fathering.