Tips to help new dads find their way in the new world of fatherhood.
From a man’s perspective, it can appear that most women seem to instinctively know all about babies. Dads can sometimes feel left out during the early months of their baby’s life – especially if mum is breast feeding baby. It can seem that she has all the caring under control. Even the information available for new parents can appear to be designed with just mums in mind.
The earlier dads get involved, the better
Research confirms that the earlier dads get involved with their baby the better, so helping dads find their way in the new world of fatherhood is important. Firstly, it will increase their confidence to be an active hands-on dad and, secondly, it will grow their own relationship with their baby.
Men learn fathering from their dad’s example
Parenting practices are culturally influenced. We will generally parent based on our experiences of being parented, whether they were positive or negative. So, encourage dads to think about their own childhood experiences of being fathered and what they might bring from that or do differently in their fathering role.
Overall, Kiwi dads are doing well
The Supporting Kiwi Dads project (completed by the Families Commission in 2009) surveyed 1721 fathers to gain a snapshot of the issues related to their role as dads.
The survey presents fathers in a good light: they are generally very engaged with their children and families – more so than their own fathers were. They’re heavily involved in chores and childcare around the home, and they want to spend more time with their children.
Learning by doing
Overall, the results reinforce an image of New Zealand fathers learning by doing. While many of them learned fathering from their fathers or other male relatives, they don’t talk to them about fathering and presumably learned from them in that they copied what they liked and rejected what they did not.
Great Fathers toolbox
Dad champion and initiator of Great Fathers Trust Dave Owens suggests that many men find it difficult to negotiate the new world of fatherhood. In response, he developed the Great Fathers initiative.