Being a dad is a rite of passage that some men can't wait for and others are totally intimidated by. Between the responsibilities, the day-to-day schedule and the sleepless nights, it can change everything about the life of both parents, although moms tend to get more attention and sympathy. A man becomes a dad from the moment that he cuts the cord — or doesn't, since that isn't always a part of the birth plan these days — but it can be hard to imagine what kind of father he will be from the get-go.
Many people ignore the impact on the man, since it's not him going through pregnancy and delivery, but he still has to deal with a lot. Some of the things that can happen are totally unexpected. New dads change everything from how they drive to how they look at women. Their relationships are never the same, and sometimes they feel the pressure to change their career or go back to school. From the newborn period to the time their kid starts kindergarten, a man might not even recognize himself after all is said and done. It's a lot to handle, and men need to know that they aren't alone even though it can feel like all eyes are on their partners.
Here are 20 ways dad might change once the baby arrives.
It can be difficult to keep relationships the same after a baby comes. Days and nights are devoted to diapers and bottles, and in the meantime, some men end up feeling neglected. Most guys don't want to admit that they can't share their woman with a little baby, but it happens a lot. A new mom might have finally fallen asleep when her man gets up to get ready for work, and she's too exhausted to cook dinner for him at night. And it can take a lot longer than the doctor-prescribed six weeks for some new moms to feel ready to give her man some attention in bed. It's easy to feel overshadowed by a 10-pound baby. But fortunately if a man sticks with it, things will eventually get back to a new normal.
Have you ever heard of the phrase "she has her dad wrapped around her little finger?" It's a saying that comes from reality, as many dads end up doting on their daughters. It happens with sons too, but there is something about fathers and daughters that can cause even the manliest of men to actually participate in a tea party and allow his daughter to try out her makeup skills on his own face. We've seen videos of dads trying out ballet and learning to do hair and so man other tasks that they never imagined that they would do before the baby was born. But to get his little girl to smile, some men will do anything in their power, even if it means doing a pirouette.
When the home life is stressful, sometimes that is the time when men bury themselves in work. The office may seem like as good a place as any to be when you want to avoid a crying baby, and knowing that the baby needs diapers and clothes and an expensive car seat might mean that dad feels it might be even more important for him to be working so that the money keeps coming in. He might yearn to get up the corporate ladder so the paychecks grow, and he can afford a bigger house and a safer car for the family. Some men can't seem to shut off that pull, and they start bringing work home with them. It might help on the money front, but it could hurt dad's relationship with the baby and her mother.
We're sharing the good, the bad and the ugly here, and so we have to bring up one of the worst possibilities that comes when the baby comes — the dad develops a wandering eye. Women's bodies go through a lot of changes during pregnancy and the postpartum period. On top of that, the work of keeping up with a newborn means that some days it's hard to take a shower, much less put on makeup and clean clothes — but the mom can't have sex for more than a month anyway, and her desire for that may be low after that. It might seem like a good excuse, but this is no good reason for a man to cheat. We wish that men only had eyes for their family during this time in their life, but there are some baby daddies that go astray.
Fatherhood changes men's behavior from the very beginning. While they might be a speed demon before the birth, that first drive home from the hospital will make them realize just how responsible they are for the lives of their passengers. They will creep along so slowly that first drive that it will seem like home is a million miles away, and road trips will never be the same when there is a family to transport. Grandfathers get a bad rap for being slow, cautious drivers, but it really begins with dads who realize that the baby is super precious cargo, and it's definitely not worth trying to beat the light when there is a baby on board.
When a man's money is his own, he is free to indulge in every video game and vacation he wants. But when he becomes a dad, there are a lot more expenses to worry about — and a big reason to start planning and saving. We're not saying that men don't ever spoil themselves with a few luxuries, but if a man hasn't started a savings account, fatherhood can help him realize the need to have some money set aside for doctor's bills and birthday parties. If they are able, dads might start a college fund and work on planning out their finances even more. Some men, of course, still spend like their money is burning a hole in their pocket, but many dads realize that their money has to go a lot farther when they are a father, and they will finally get their budget in order.
Many bachelors like to live their life without thinking about a schedule. They may have work hours, but otherwise, they could eat dinner anytime, and they love to sleep late on weekends and stay up all night. But when they become a dad, life can become pretty scheduled. Babies usually eat on a schedule, and if they don't mom and dad might pay for it. Their naps are regular, and it doesn't matter if it's Saturday; wake up time is the same every day. Things can get even more scheduled later one when the kids start school and participate in sports. It's just a fact of life for a father.
Let's admit it — some dads see fatherhood as the time to grow up and be the man that the baby and his or her mama can depend on, but others just check out. They might be around some, but they might as well have posted a sign that says "Gone Fishing." Some men actually do go out and lose themselves in hobbies, or they might be physically present but not really invested in spending time with the family. They might be afraid of fully committing and falling in love with their family, or they might think that it's just easier and more fun to keep doing the things that they did before the baby was born. Unfortunately, moms really need the help of a father to get through the trying first few months with a newborn and the very difficult time of raising a toddler, an adolescent and a teen. But unfortunately, some men aren't committed to the task.
Fatherhood can bring out the romance in a man — scientific studies have proven it. We think that it's an evolutionary trait that helps a couple actually get through the very difficult, exhausting and emotional first few months with a new baby. Seeing your woman give birth to your baby and sacrifice herself and her sleep to her family can help a man fall even deeper in love with his partner, and many men find that they want to let her know how much she means to him. While getting intimate can be difficult — and even painful — right after the baby comes, it can be enough to cuddle for a lot of men who are really feeling the love at that time. It might be a fleeting feeling, or it could help forge a long-lasting commitment.
Before the baby is born, it might be Gym, Tan, Life. But after the baby's birth, getting a work out in may not seem as important. While women might expect that little side effect, it also can happen to dads, since they want to stay close to the family to protect them right after the baby comes home. There's even a term for the slightly less shapely body that usually includes a little bit of fluff around the middle and a chest that isn't as buff as before — the dad bod. It just might not seem so important to keep up the muscles when it's more fun to stay home and throw the baby in the air for a few giggles each night. As long as a man puts in enough exercise to stay healthy, we think that dad bods are kind of cute.
They may not mean to, but lots of dads live vicariously through their kids. That's especially true if their child has a talent or skill that they always wanted, and it's most noted in the fathers of athletes. Many times, dads can get so involved in the activity and they can get super competitive. It's not enough for them to cheer on their child's accomplishment — they push their kid to do better and they are very involved in every step of the way. Don't get us wrong; that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes it allows the child and the father to bond, but sometimes it can build resentment. The best dads are able to find the balance between support and encouragement and pushing too hard.
When a man becomes a dad, that doesn't mean he ends his time being a bro. In fact, it's possible that some guys need their bro time even more after the baby comes. They might skip a few months after the baby's birth — that definitely happens to new moms who would rather spend a night at home with the baby than with the girls. But many men start to really chafe if they don't have the opportunity to let loose and have some fun with friends. Bro time might not be as wild and crazy as it was when they were young and carefree, but whether it's a poker night or a trip to the movies, guys night out can become an important ritual, and it can be a good time to unwind from the pressures of parenting.
Life at home with a new baby can be so amazing, and some men take to it amazingly. They not only are great with the baby, but they also take on a big load of the housework to help mom out. It's like they become Mr. Mom, easily baby-wearing while they vacuum and cook dinner on the stove. This might seem like a pipe dream, but it really happens to some men, especially as their hormones match their wives and they settle into domesticity. There are lots of different kinds of families nowadays, and there is a growing percentage of stay-at-home dads. Of course, dads are just as great at changing diapers and fulfilling baby's needs, and for some this is the situation that works best.
Everyone handles stress differently. We've mentioned a few consequences to stress already, as some men stay away at work or even end up spending time with another woman. Some men internalize, and they might find that they have a lot of anxiety and other issues when they bring home a new baby. It's something that can happen to moms too, although sometimes women feel that they have permission to express their emotions while men may not want to express their worry and stress, especially if they think it could contribute to their partner's anxiety. Stress is hard on everybody, so it's important that men find a way to cope and get through the crazy first months of fatherhood.
While the hormones and responsibility can change things for men when they become dads, somehow, some part of them will always remain the same. That's especially true for men who are just big kids at heart. While they will take care of the bills and the responsibilities, their kid will bring out the fun. They will wrestle, play video games, jump on the trampoline, ride bikes — they are always ready to make their kid's childhood memorable and fun. Mom may tease dad about being her other child, but as long as he helps clean up the messes, she doesn't really mind.
Have we mentioned how tough life can be with a newborn? It's inevitable that both mom and dad will lose sleep in those first few months at home with the baby, which means that dad might just become a bit of a zombie. Many dads do their best to take turns with nightly feedings, especially if the mom isn't breastfeeding. But even if they aren't getting up, it can be hard to sleep through the screaming. It can be easy to spot a new dad at the office because his chin keeps dropping during meetings and he is a frequent visitor to the coffee machine. Moms lose sleep for years after they have a baby, but most men end up finding a way to catch up on sleep.
Having a baby definitely changes relationships. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. For some men, their partner is put in an entirely different place when they are bearing a child and becoming a mother. They put her up on a pedestal and treat her very differently. This might sound nice, but sometimes it goes too far and they don't want to get close, or the treatment can be uncomfortable and off-putting. It can be nice for a man to make his baby mama feel special, but they have to communicate to make sure they stay on the same page before and after the birth.
Everyone expects a 2 year old to throw a temper tantrum, but sometimes, the kids bring it out in dad as well. There are some men who can handle the crying and whining and the millions of times a day that the toddler asks why. But patience isn't always available, and that can mean that dad is one step away from blowing up sometimes. It's not something that fathers are proud of, but it's a fact of life for many. Sometimes, it's wise that they get some help learning to control their temper because it's a lot cuter when the kid throws a fit than his dad.
Things aren't all bad for men who welcome a baby into their home. Sometimes that little one can be everything that completes their family, and they take to it in the most meaningful and profound way. Whether the baby was planned for or a surprise, he or she can make a man feel needed in a way that he has never felt before and it can feel like destiny. The baby can become integrated into the family life easily, with dad enjoying every minute of teaching his child to ride a bike or coaching them in their favorite sport. He balances his time at work but can't wait to get home. It's amazing to see the transformation in a man when he becomes a family man.
With all of the focus these days on making sure that mothers understand that postpartum depression isn't something to be ashamed of, we want to make sure that dads know that the mental illness can also happen to them. It's not a strength thing — it's about biology and hormones. Studies have proven that the same hormonal swings can happen in men, and that means that men should not be afraid to admit that it is happening to them. Adam Busby, the father of quintuplets featured in "Outdaughtered" brought attention to the issue recently. He's getting help, and we want other men to know that they can do that as well.