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Reluctant dads: how do you cope?

(13 Posts)
Queenoftheharpies Mon 23-Mar-09 14:26:04

Hi Dadsnetters

Sorry to be yet another gatecrashing woman, but I want some manly advice.

My DP is increasingly depressed about our imminent first baby. Spending time with a friends toddler over the weekend has put him in a complete state - even though said toddler was incredibly well behaved and just sat in his buggy in the pub beer garden while mum and dad had drinks with us.

He says he had no idea he'd feel this way, but has no intention of leaving, and he's taking 3 months off work to help me out immediately after the birth. So it's not like he's not intending to do the right thing. But I overheard him telling his mum how much he hates children and how he doesn't want any. That's really upsetting me. He says he's worried that when the baby is born he'll have no feelings for it at all.

Neither of us want to split up. Neither of us want to end the pregnancy - it's too late for that anyway even if either of us did. So we're stuck now.

So, is there any way this can not end badly? Is it possible to fake being a good dad? The internet is full of stories of unwilling dads whose heart melted at the sight of their new baby - but I can't see that happening in our case.

Are you an unwilling dad who's managed to stick it out? What advice can you give?

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Mon 23-Mar-09 14:31:23

Not a dad, but my DH didn't seem to bond with or want much to do with our newborn dd2.

Now she is older and he can 'play' with her, he is much more invloved. So my advice to you both would be don't expect too much at first. It will happen with time.

Queenoftheharpies Mon 23-Mar-09 17:55:22

Yeah, a lot of dads we know have said it got a whole lot easier when the LO grew a personality.

But these are dads who like kids anyway.

It seems really unlikely to me that he's going to suddenly abandon a lifetime's dislike of children just because we've got one.

GeordieFatBloke Wed 25-Mar-09 22:24:28

I feel for you, it must be a worry. Perhaps you can find out what it is about kids he doesn't like in particular? To be honest the idea of having children to me was terrifying, mostly because of the responsibility it entailed (I'd hate to be a rubbish Dad!) but partly because of the perceived changes it would bring to my life and relationship. Just over a year into being a Dad now and its the most amazing thing I've ever done, and DD was not an easy little one! I hope that your partner approaches this with an open mind, he may surprise himself ...

retiredgoth2 Wed 25-Mar-09 22:36:21

It sounds like he is apprehensive, probably more about his own adequacy as a Dad. If he were to be blase that would be worrying. But this is the biggest life change any of us ever have, I believe.

....I remember holding our first baby, the overwhelming knowledge of responsibility for someone else. Not to mention the drive home from hospital. At about 15 mph.

...I think your partner may be getting these feelings 'done with' early. I place a bet with you now that he will surprise you, and become a devoted, doting Dad.

Ewe Wed 25-Mar-09 22:45:15

My DP was very much as you describe, I just read him your OP and he said "her DP is just panicking" and I am inclined to say he is right.

There is nothing you can do but it is very likely to come naturally, although perhaps not at first. Newborns are terribly dull, cute looking but they do nothing but create work and lose everyone sleep.

My DP has really come into his own since DD was about 6 months and now has her own personality. He is now a doting Father and DD's first word was "Dada" and she likes him to put her to bed every night.

Just try and reassure him that you think he will be great Daddy and that you are scared too, it's easy to forget that because the men don't have the physical stuff to deal with that they don't have the fear, worry etc that we do. So empathy and confidence in him are my top tips, good luck grin

DadInsteadofMum Thu 26-Mar-09 13:52:24

RG2 don't forget the bit after the drive home, you get home put it in cot/basket/whatever, look at it and think "what the bloody hell are we supposed to do with it now?".

Queenoftheharpies Thu 26-Mar-09 14:56:07

Geordiefatbloke, I'm not sure where it comes from but it feels very raw and visceral - it's like being around someone with a severe phobia or an anxiety disorder tbh. Whenever there's an advert for nappies on TV he looks visibly disturbed (even before i got pg).

He won't come to ante-natal classes with me, not because he thinks they'll be boring or irrelevant or anything like that, but because it will force him into the company of other dads-to-be as if they'll all be boden-wearing yoghurt-weaving uber-dads rather than a random mix of terrified blokes.

It's just really odd. And from my POV, as someone who has to live with the impending baby on a daily basis, slightly adolescent.

StercusAccidit Thu 26-Mar-09 15:12:44

I think everyone gets their baby home and thinks 'What am i supposed to do with it now"

I remember walking out of the hospital with DS2 and DP, and looking back as if someone was going to come running out and take us back in.. it was a lovely, scary feeling.. and i have a DS1 and DD, i didn't have those feelings with them, because my mum picked me up i think lol

I felt really nervous about coming home but excited and elated, i did say to DP that i felt odd that we were being 'allowed' to take such a tiny baby home

When the baby is born i am sure he will come round, if he doesn't, hopefully it will be gradual, as the baby grows, and develops a personality, especially if it is your first baby..what a scary time for both of you.

Just make sure he puts you and the baby first and supports you whether he feels scared or not. Responsibility for a new person is very scary and rightly so

EdwardBear Thu 26-Mar-09 16:54:58

My DH finds pretty much all children annoying too (except ours!). Before we had children he would have been horrified at the thought of holding a baby or playing with a toddler.
He absolutely loves our two children to bits though and is a fantastic Dad.
I agree that he is panicking and I too think he will surprise you.
Even my friends DH (who is wonderful with their 5 month old baby and rushes home from work because he misses him) shudders at the thought of being left home alone with a toddler (he said as much when DH told him I'd gone away and left Dh with the kids lol)

munchkinpoppet Sun 09-Aug-09 11:42:57

I'm a reluctant mum and felt exactly the same as your dh. You get used to it though and as someone else said, it gets better when they get more personality. I am really glad to have had that 'accident' now, he's a joy. It's such a taboo though. I hope it works out for you and it is easier than you'd think to fake it cause no-one expects you not to be happy about it and they don't see it at all! People always think I'm great with ds (and I am!)

munchkinpoppet Sun 09-Aug-09 11:46:29

And I don't find other children so offensive now either grin

ABetaDad Sun 09-Aug-09 12:07:06

Queenoftheharpies - I am not sure he hates children but the idea of not knowing what to do and being out of control and out of his depth is pretty terrifying perhaps.

The "what am I supposed to do now question" sort of triggered something in me after DS1 was born. Being a Dad just sort of kicked in because there was nowhere to hide. Having said that, I wanted children and was happy to have them.

I never went to a single ante natal class and frankly DW sais they were a waste of time for Dads so don't try and make him go.

My advice is just tell him to be supportive of you, cooking cleaning, washing clothes, ironing after the baby is born (and before). Get him physically involved right at the beginning with the baby, changing nappies, bathing, getting the baby to sleep, burping, buying it clothes, carrying the baby in a pouch even around the home as well as in the street. Don't monopolise the bay to yourself. These all helped with bonding for me.

By the way no need to apologise for coming on Dadsnet. Hardly any of us come here either. The place needs a good airing at times. grin

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