Fathers Make
a World of

Chapter 1. A Road Map for Fathers

My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived,
and let me watch him do it. - Clarence B. Kelland

She has made the announcement. You are to be a father. Actually, you already are a father; the baby is simply not visible yet. Your child, a living, loving being, is in your partner’s womb.

Fathering may well be unknown and unexplored territory for you. To have help navigating can be very useful. Having the use of certain tools and perhaps even a compass could also be invaluable.

You may have varied and conflicting thoughts about becoming a father. The largest percentage of pregnancies are not explicitly planned. The nature of this fact carries with it the inevitability of surprise and possibly uncertainty.

Expectant dads respond to pregnancy in a wide variety of ways. You may still have some lingering questions.

  • Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?
  • Is this the right point in my life to be having a child?
  • We already have children, do we really want more?
  • What about career timing, for my partner and me?
  • Are we financially prepared?
  • What if we are not married?
  • Is our house big enough?
  • What about my freedom?

These and other issues may be of concern to you. You will be given opportunities throughout this book to resolve them. What is important, firstly, is how you feel and think about your concerns. Speaking with your partner can help each of you to become more comfortable.

Acceptance of the pregnancy will provide you with the opportunity to experience more joy at the prospect of being a father. This is a precious moment for you. Life will never be the same as it was; and that is really good news.

One thing that can support your acceptance of the pregnancy is to consider the possibility that your baby loves you already. What would you do differently if you were certain that your baby loved you, right now? What if you proceed with this assumption? Can you embrace your relationship with your child, now? Remind yourself regularly, “My baby loves me”, and notice how it feels and affects your thoughts and actions.

Power Tools for Fathering

This can be the most profound and empowering time of your life. There may well be elements that border on the mystical. It can also be a most challenging period. The time of pregnancy and birth can be seen as a growing time. While a baby’s growth is most obvious, parents are often going to experience growth of a different nature. You are in one of life’s most significant transitions and change will be constant. This will require flexibility on your part. Your personal growth during pregnancy and birth can seem like a forced march if you resist the process or are not sufficiently supported.

Throughout this book you will find various tools, exercises and information to support you. Feel free to explore the content and delve however deeply you wish to go with the different elements. This book is designed in such a way that you could spend anywhere from ninety minutes to nine months with it. Feel free to take your time and perhaps take breaks to integrate what you are learning. If you notice you are becoming uneasy, pause and take a deep breath.

There are times in the text when an exercise is presented; a horizontal line will distinguish them. Please feel free to do these as and when you choose. You may wish to work with the exercises as you go along. You could also read straight through the book and come back to them later. Some topics you may wish to revisit and work with more than once or over a period of time. Many of the Power Tools for fathering are briefly introduced next.

Affirmations are positive statements asserting that a goal a person wishes to achieve has already happened. They can be very useful during preparation for being a father. Affirmations can support you in changing your thinking and long held beliefs about life and fathering. An affirmation can be spoken, written or mentally projected.

Breathing and Meditation are ancient practices that can also be valuable modern resources during your transition to fatherhood. A very simple form of meditation will be presented to support you to calm your mind and relax your body. You can also learn to regulate your breathing to reduce stress.

Choice is one of life’s most powerful features. Fathering will bring with it many and varied choices. What do you expect your fathering to be like? Do you have any control over this or is the outcome inevitable? Can you choose to do it differently from your father? What would that look like? The interesting thing about choice is that until you know you have options, and what they are, you do not actually have a conscious choice. Are you choosing what you really want? The ultimate choice is to choose what you are thinking. How are you investing your mental resources and is this investment paying you back with dividends you actually want?

Empathy and Listening are valuable qualities to develop during this time. They will also serve you well for years to come. Do your best to imagine what this experience is like for your partner, particularly if this is her first pregnancy. Be willing to expand your capacity for being patient and loving. Listening can be extremely important. Listening is done with the ears and the heart, never with the mouth. Be willing to support her silently, at times.

Father’s Circle is an exercise I have designed specially for fathers based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is a body of information about how the human mind works and how people think. Utilizing it you can bring about desired changes faster and more easily.

Father’s Compass is a metaphorical as well as a practical tool. You will be guided in the use of one to support you in navigating fatherhood.

Forgiveness is a gift for you. By forgiving someone else you make a choice to free yourself from resentment and blame. Forgiving someone does not absolve them of responsibility for their actions. You just decide to move on. Letting go of old issues is good for everyone, particularly you. Forgiving can help you to become a better father.

Gratitude is invaluable. Being grateful for everything, past or present, is powerful and will expand your experience of love. Gratitude for your father can be tremendously healing. For some, this may require a little work to achieve; but you can do it. Gratitude will open you to receiving more of whatever it is you want for yourself.

You may find it beneficial to start a Father’s Journal.
This is a dedicated notebook, a private place for you to record your
thoughts and inner explorations regarding your fathering, on an
ongoing basis. You could begin writing now.
What do you think about what you have
read so far? How do you feel?

©2009, Patrick Houser

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Patrick Houser is a father and a grandfather. His second son's arrival was the first waterbirth in the U.S. This led him into nearly 25 years of support for both choices and working with parents. He has gained wide experience from various fields including a degree in marketing, owning a construction firm and a natural health centre. Patrick is a Life Coach and co-founder of Fathers-To-Be, a new concept in antenatal education, for men. Fathers-To-Be also offers consulting and training for health service providers. E-Mail or www.fatherstobe.org These articles are excerps from his book Fathers-To-Be Handbook: A road map for the transition to fatherhood.

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