Just like IKEA instructions or work fire drills, these “alternative facts” are best disregarded.
Becoming a dad can be utterly terrifying for a whole range of reasons—not least of which are some of the bullshit myths that soon-to-be-fathers get fed with alarming regularity.
Here are five of the most common myths that keep some fellas up at night, which you can now comfortably ignore.
1. You’re destined to dad just like your old man dadded
Yeah, maybe … maybe not.
It’s true that kids with shitty parents are more likely to be shitty parents themselves. US’s Childhood Domestic Violence Association estimates that children who’ve been belted are 74 times more likely to commit violent crimes in the future.
Further depressing research suggests that those children who’ve seen their parents take lumps out of each other are six times more likely to grow up to abuse their own partner.
But it’s no fait accompli.
There’s no father/son rule in the great footy draft of life. Just because your old man could have arseholed for Australia doesn’t mean you’ll follow in his footsteps.
Even if your dad was a rolled gold piece of shit, l’il neglectarino, you have a choice. And if you’re conscious of not being like him already, you’re ahead of the game.
Or, as New York writer Richard Morgan, whose own memoirs of a crappy childhood were called Born in Bedlam, wrote: “my dad taught me how not to be a dad”.
“The idea of growing up to be like you makes me nauseous,” he wrote, as an adult, to his estranged, violent, abusive, emotionally distant father.
“I suppose, in a backwards way, I can thank you for that: for providing me with such a clear example of the person I never want to be.”
2. Fathers can’t compete with the connection mums have with their kids
Mums do have an early advantage here. But they should, because you can flush all that glowing earth mother bullshit down the toilet, because pregnancy is torture.
It is nine long months of pain, irritability, no drinking, no-Nurofen awfulness that only ends when you spit out a three-kilo alien out the wrong part of your body.
It gets immediately better for her, of course, once the kid is born and she gets the skin-to-skin bonding that, ideally, is the child’s first breastfeed.
At this stage, mum’s connection with your shared offspring may seem unapproachable.
Firstly, it’s not true that only expectant mothers enjoy/suffer biological changes in preparation for the new arrival. The testosterone levels in dads-to-be drops naturally, for example.
Maybe to make you less angry, more nurturing, and to lower your chances of deciding to fist fight an unprovoked bear while bub needs you to bring home the bacon.
Secondly, it’s just … not true in the long term. I love my kid every bit as his mum does, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise, whether or not they’re a bear.
He’s 16 months old, and pinballs between us in terms of favouritism. Some days he only wails if his mum leaves the room; sometimes a week passes when he’ll only allow me to dress or bathe him, and demands I (and only I) pick him up for hours.
Which is … fun? Eh, be careful what you wish for.
3. Dads are inconsequential. They’re just along for the ride
Dads make a big difference at each step. Before the kid is born, you’re crucial to helping mum all the way to the minute of delivery.
And once the baby drops, you’re even more crucial. Sure, you don’t have breasts or, at least, functioning ones. But you can do bottle feeds, change nappies, give mum a break from MOTHER OF CHRIST WHY IS IT STILL SHOUTING, acquiesce silently, and not stab yourself in the eye with a fork when she wants to binge-watch Married At First Sight.
Plus just being involved makes your child more smarterer.
4. Nature prepares mothers for motherhood and dads have to figure it out themselves
No. You’re not only faced with plummeting testosterone. A month or so after you learn she’s pregnant, your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, spike.
“Men undergo hormonal changes as they prepare for fatherhood,” neuro-psychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Male Brain, told MSN.
“This surge may put the father-to-be’s brain on alert and in a sense, wake him up to the impending reality of a new baby’s arrival, and alert him that he’d better get things ready.”
5. If he’s not told what to do, dad will screw it up
Untrue! And true, as well. You’re perfectly capable of screwing things up whether mum lectures you about it or not.
But mum is, too, whether or not her mum butts in. And screwing it up is normal and fine. If you’re being careful, babies are pretty hard to break.
Mum has no innate knack about how to change/feed/settle/burp the kid.
Look, there’s a reasonable chance that new mum won’t trust you to look after bub as well as she does. Especially at the start, if you’ve maybe gone back to work and she’s still home, trial-and-erroring her way around not killing it while learning the basics.
And it’s only natural for her to both kinda forget how it took her a while to get the gist, or to want you not to make the same errors.
Just insist on doing your bit and, as politely as possible, tell her you’ve got this. Say it in that deep, stupid Marvel superhero voice: “I got this”.
So mum’s not happy about your choice of baby’s clothing combo, or of cheese sticks for breakfast, or whatever? Listen to her, and take her advice under advisement, but soldier through. You’ll work it out. She needs you.
You’re the only one who knows about the bears.