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.
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 partners
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
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
- 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
- What about career timing, for my partner and
- 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 babys
growth is most obvious, parents are often going to
experience growth of a different nature. You are in
one of lifes 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
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
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
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
Choice is one of lifes 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
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.
Fathers 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.
Fathers Compass is a metaphorical
as well as a practical tool. You will be guided in
the use of one to support you in navigating
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
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
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?
* * *
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
These articles are excerps from his book
Handbook: A road map for the transition
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