Dads: A More Perfect Union

Anticipate
Men should prepare for fatherhood just as much as women do for motherhood. New dads today need to know about the everyday physical, psychological and social strains of becoming a father and caring for an infant. This stress is natural. Plan for it.

Simply by understanding that difficulties -- ranging from a lack of sleep to a decreased sex life -- will arise, you can better cope. I've found that fathers-to-be who addressed their anxieties before the birth were often surprisingly relaxed afterward.

Anticipation can continue to serve you well throughout child rearing. Become familiar with the developmental stages your child is going through, such as sleeping later into the morning at around 8 months and becoming toilet trained at around 36 months. Knowing that there are breaths of fresh air in the life cycle, when a child reaches a new milestone and seems to need less from you, will enable you and your partner to realistically anticipate opportunities to rekindle the fire.

Keep Your Cool
Stoicism is a masculine emotional tool that has been given a bad name, perhaps because it calls to mind the stereotype of a traditional male -- unemotional, unconnected, uncaring.

On the contrary, caring men who are successful fathers often resolve to get through difficulties without doing something that will make a stressful family situation worse. Rather than giving in to the temptation to react impulsively, they remember to look for a more sensitive way to be a father.

Peter Sr. explained how he tries to keep his cool with his children better than his own dad did: "I am basically more easygoing than my father. I don't let myself get upset. To remain calm, I go for a walk by myself. I'm not stern like he was."

It is, indeed, a good idea to take a walk around the block before responding to a difficult situation. Another father managed to keep his wits about him by proclaiming with great pathos, "I need to calm my nerves! Where is the coffee?" In this way, he claimed five minutes for himself to relax and figure out a constructive response.

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