First Time Dad: Finding My Father’s Intuition
Today’s post was written by Rob Talevi, a Bright Horizons employee and first time father:
There is that age-old notion that a woman becomes a mother at conception, and a man becomes a father at birth. However, gaining a parent’s intuition is a bit different…at least for men. After becoming a father, it takes time for you to trust yourself so that you can know what to do and how to react. The truth is that’s 100% okay.
As a new dad myself, I can tell you that the day my son was born was the best moment in my entire life. I knew my world would change with fatherhood, and the expectation of jumping into Dad-mode was there. But the truth is it frightened the hell out of me that I had no idea how to make this transition. My wife seemingly jumped into the role with simple ease. Instinctively, she bonded right away with our son and hit the ground running on being an awesome parent. For me, on the other hand, this was completely new and terrifying. That’s not to say that I was afraid of getting involved. More so, I felt like I knew my destination, but I needed to take a road that was off the path and I would have to figure out the directions for myself.
My wife had developed her maternal instinct, but I was still waiting for my fatherly instinct to come in the mail. So, what was I to do? If I had a nickel for every time that I called the doctor’s office to ask a routine question regarding something so very simple, I could afford to have someone write this for me…(ha!). But in all seriousness, I remember one time in particular when I asked a nurse about a situation that my wife had already researched. After discussing the issue with me, the nurse said, “Rob, trust your wife’s intuition and the answer will be right there.” As a new dad, this was frustrating for me because I felt like I was the only one not in the loop on all these parental answers.
This might sound funny, but it took watching an episode of Boy Meets World to find my intuition. In the episode, Mr. Matthews is talking to his oldest son Eric about how Eric needs to grow up but knows his father shields and protects him. Mr. Matthews explains, “When you were born, the doctor put you in my arms. I wore those protective gloves and, after all these years, I still have those gloves on…” For some odd reason, hearing that made something click. As a first time dad, I had still not taken off my gloves and was simply relying on caution more than my gut.
Today, I cannot say that I have mastered my father’s intuition, but I am on a better path. Since becoming a father and having to learn on the fly, I am starting to make judgment calls – some right and some not-so-right. The main thing is that my comfort level and confidence has dramatically increased.
So, to all the new parents out there, I’ll leave it at this: Nobody masters motherhood or fatherhood right away. And that’s okay. Over time, you begin to form your own bond with your child and understand what he or she wants and needs. If I had any advice for other fathers out there, it would be that if you have an instinct or gut feeling, don’t ignore it. But be mindful of your partner’s intuition as well. Make sure that you and your partner communicate, so that you can both get on the same page and work together.
And finally, I can say with a laugh that I know that I’m not the Dahli-Lama delivering sage-like advice with answers to the mystery of the universe. But I am a dad, who was where you are a year ago, in the trenches, feeling totally overwhelmed, and I can confidently say this: you will find your way.
I’m Rob, a dad to one adventurous and happy 12-month old boy. I live in Boston with my wife and son. Being a first time dad has already been a pretty crazy experience, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
- Read posts about fatherhood from The Family Room bloggers.
- Bright Horizons Community: Weigh in on this dad’s question about raising a child to have grit.
- E-family news: Pregnancy for Dads – A Father’s Role Before the Baby Arrives