Fathers don’t get enough attention during pregnancy and early parenthood. Expected to be the tower of strength for their partners, new fathers are, in fact, having their own unique and challenging experience. Anthropologist E.B. Taylor used the term couvade to describe the cross-cultural rituals that fathers enact during pregnancy. In Papua New Guinea, for example, fathers build a hut at the outskirts of the village and mimic labor pains until the baby is born. Fathers in modern times develop pregnancy symtoms: weight gain, hormonal changes, disturbed sleep, and morning nausea.
Dads get mixed messages during pregnancy. While the father’s participation in pregnancy and childbirth may be encouraged, the father often feels that he’s in the way. The pregnant father can also feel marginalized by childbirth education classes that focus only on the mother’s experience and would benefit from preparation for birth and parenthood that is more father-appropriate.
The mother’s superior position to the newborn baby, although natural and expected, can be stressful for the father; and while he supports breastfeeding, it may make him feel inferior. According to a 2012 Australian study, Dads also experience postpartum depression (PPD), even at a slightly higher rate than do moms. Dads under 30 have a 40% higher chance of PPD.
For gender non-conforming parents, traditional parental names can be problematic. According to Ellen Kahn, director of the Children, Youth & Families Program at the Human Rights Campaign,
“For queer parents who don’t think of themselves as gender conforming, “mommy” and “daddy” may be a little discordant with the way they think of themselves.”
While the roles of gender non-conforming couples may be fluid, once gay and lesbian couples become parents they tend to divide things as heterosexual parents do. One partner tends to do more of the household chores and childcare. While all couples experience relationship imbalances during pregnancy and early parenthood, most resources are directed at mothers. Here are some resources for dads.
ON THE WEB
General-Interest Sites for Fathers
- Dadmag.com: “For the Man with Kids.”
- FQ: “The Essential Dad Mag.”
- Black and Married with Kids is the largest, independent African American marriage and parenting site on the web.
Special-Interest Sites for Fathers
- The Fathers Network: For “fathers and families raising children with special health care needs and developmental disabilities.
- National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute is a national effort to reinforce the positive involvement of Chicano/Latino/Native males in the lives of their families, communities, and society. Since its inception, NCN has focused its efforts on the healing, developing and reinforcing of Chicano/Latino/Native boys and men based through the development of “circulos” (extended kinship networks).
- Native American Fatherhood and Families Association aims to strengthen Native American families through responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Their two signature curricula are “Fatherhood is Sacred, Motherhood is Sacred,” and “Linking Generations by Strengthening Relationships.”
- Fathers Incorporated wants to engage, equip and empower a community network of fathers and families by creating an environment of support, parental education, positive societal narratives and a father-focused blueprint to elevate the awareness of responsible fatherhood.
- Black American Dad Foundation works to enrich and develop family relationships through action, visual media, and community engagement. For both future and current fathers, the Black American Dad Foundation provides a vast range of resources with a promise of directing its efforts towards the overall advancement of African American fathers.
- Jackie Bledsoe helps motivated but overwhelmed husbands and fathers learn how to lead and love their families so they can have lasting, fulfilling marriages and meaningful influence on their kids.
- Solutions for Incarcerated Fathers As the nation’s leading and most experienced provider of evidence-based and evidence-informed resources and programming designed specifically for incarcerated fathers, National Fatherhood Initiative® partners with corrections systems, facilities, and organizations to integrate fatherhood programming into rehabilitation and reentry efforts.
- National At-Home Dad Network: Connecting stay-at-home dads locally and nationally through advocacy, community, education and support. In September, they are hosting their 23rd annual at-home dads convention in Portland, Oregon.
- National Fatherhood Initiative: “To improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.”
- Jeremy Adam Smith, author of The Daddy Shift and Tomas Moniz, author of Rad Dad are among the contributors to Daddy Dialectic, “a group blog by and about dads who embrace care-giving and egalitarian relationships.”
- Shawn Burns is the author of the blog Backpacking Dad: “I am a dad. I have a backpack. My kids ride around in the backpack.”
- Adventure Brown. Lewis is a twenty-something Australian dad who blogs and vlogs about his adventures and family life.
- Always Home and Uncool: “Fatherhood isn’t just funny in Kevin’s world, it’s the most hilarious thing ever.”
- GeekDad: Wired magazine’s popular blog for techno dads.
- Frugal Dad: Financial advice and philosophy. Common sense for college.
- Stay at Stove Dad: “A Site for Working Fathers who Cook for their Families.”
- VeganDad: “A realistic look at a vegan family in a northern Ontario city.”
- The Black Dad Connection was created to impel black fathers and the fathers of black children to take action steps toward living the best, most connected, and longest lives possible for the sake of their children. Black Dad Connection is managed as a program of the national men’s health nonprofit organization, Malecare.
- Mocha Dad: “Fatherhood Lessons for Modern Men.”
- Guy Dads: “Two married Jewish gay dads, their six children, and life on the town. Plus a dose of social action and gay activism.”
Dads on Twitter
- The Baby Bonding Book for Dads: Building a Closer Connection with Your Baby, by Jennifer Margulis and James di Properzio (Willow Creek Press, 2008).
- The Book of Dads: Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood, by Ben George (HarperPerennial, 2009).
- Crash Course for New Dads: Tools, Checklists & Cheat-Sheets by Greg Bishop (Dads Adventure, 2008).
- The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family by Jeremy Adam Smith (Beacon Press, 2009).
- Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter, by Joe Kelly (Broadway Books, 2002).
- Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change, by Armin A. Brott (Abbeville Press, 2003).
- Fathering Right from the Start: Straight Talk about Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, by Jack Heinowitz, PhD (New World Library, 2001).
- Fatherlove: What We Need, What We Seek, What We Must Create, by Richard Louv (Diane Publishing Co., 1993).
- Father’s Milk: Nourishment and Wisdom for the First-time Father, by Andre Stein, PhD, with Peter Samu, MD (Capital Books, 2002).
- Hit the Ground Crawling: Lessons from 150,000 New Fathers, by Greg Bishop (Dads Adventure, 2006).
- Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, by David Eddie (Riverhead Books, 1999).
- Misadventures of Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. by Brian Leaf (New World Library, 2014),
- Pregnant Man: How Nature Makes Fathers Out of Men, by Gordon Churchwell (Quill, 2001).
- In addition to an excellent website, a magazine, and the two books by Greg Bishop mentioned above, Dads Adventure offers a program that has become a national model.
- Boot Camp for New Dads, is an innovative workshop for guys expecting their first child. The website offers a video about how to change a diaper, and such sections as Ramping Up for the Birth, Becoming a Dad, Helping a New Mom, Return to Romance, and Finances and Other Basics. Boot Camps are offered in 43 states and on US military bases, and are expanding internationally.
- Nurturing Fathers Program is an evidence-based, 13-week training course designed to teach parenting and nurturing skills to men. Each 2 ½ hour class provides proven, effective skills for healthy family relationships and child development. NFP has been successfully implemented in Schools, Head Start, Churches, State DSS, Prisons, Halfway Houses, Prevent Child Abuse, Parenting and Counseling Centers, Military, Community Action Agencies and many others. Available in Spanish.
- 24/7 Dads is National Fatherhood Initiative’s flagship fatherhood curriculum used by thousands of organizations across the country to train fathers to be involved, responsible, and committed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is an evidence-based program.
- Dads Meetup Groups are found in 157 cities in seven countries. These get-togethers are for meeting other dads to discuss the role of a father, as well as parenting, school, and other “dad” topics.
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place. I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter with free tips on parenting, activism, and healthy living.