When I saw the headline 'MORE CONFIDENT FATHERS HAVE HAPPIER CHILDREN, SAYS STUDY' it's fair to say my interest was, unsurprisingly, piqued. Some of the standout highlights for me include:
"A man's attitude to fatherhood soon after birth. This can influence later behaviour more than undertaking childcare and chores."
I take attitude and time to both be important, but it is interesting that this study suggests that attitude is the most important thing. At The Dad Course we're all about preparing and getting ready for fatherhood, something that isn't really on the agenda in the wider public (at least that's how it often feels). We do the practical skills, we learn knowledge but ultimately it's the confidence, hope and attitude that the guys go away with that is important. As a Dad you will learn to put on a nappy, one way or another (hopefully!), whether before or after your child is born, but as this study shows, getting off on the right foot is crucial.
"How new fathers see themselves as parents, how they value their role as a parent and how they adjust to this new role, rather than the amount of direct involvement in childcare in this period, appears to be associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children."
It's fair to say that becoming a dad is no trifling matter, it's impact is seismic, which is why we so often hear (unhelpful) messages like 'kiss goodbye to *insert thing you love here*', 'sex will never be the same again', 'be prepared to be knackered for *insert inordinately long amount of time*' and so on.
Becoming a dad for the first time is full-on, but my observation is that a lot of the horror stories/negative things people say possibly spring from a place of unpreparedness, or lacking confidence, of feeling lost, of not having healthy rhythms, relationships and boundaries. What we do isn't going to magically make everything amazing, but the more prepared you can be, the more likely it is you will enjoy and embrace fatherhood rather than simply survive it.
And that's why I think The Dad Course is good for everyone, no matter how little or much they know. Some dads go away feeling like they've learned tons of knowledge/skills they didn't have previously, while others perhaps pick up relatively less in terms of knowledge (perhaps they have nieces/nephews etc) but just as much in terms of confidence and preparedness (which is a whole other thing).
We wouldn't attempt to undertake anything rigorous or tough without doing a lot of prep. If trekking across a desert we would check and double-check our route, ensure we had all the right equipment and knowledge, ensure we knew where to turn in difficult times and so on. Why shouldn't it be the same for fatherhood?
I'm so grateful for studies like this. They remind me why I do what I do and why it is valuable. It also keeps me going towards the bigger goal, to offer every dad-to-be the opportunity to prepare themselves for fatherhood. When I read a study like this I can't help but think how transformative it could be for men, their partners, kids and wider society if every dad-to-be was offered the opportunity to truly prepare for fatherhood so that they can embrace and flourish in it rather than simply get by. And that's what we will continue to work towards.
Will you join us?
Read the full BBC article at: