Maybe when you get the big news it’s not a surprise; many couples try hard to get pregnant, and when the news finally comes, the last thing on your mind is going to be panic. For others, though, the news that a loved one is pregnant comes as a complete and total surprise—and it may not be the easiest news in the world to deal with.
Martin from Raleigh, NC writes:
“My wife is pregnant. She just told me over dinner last night. I could see she went to some effort to make the announcement special and all—and it’s not that I don’t want a family, but I guess it came as kind of a shock. I’m only twenty-six and I don’t know if I feel ready to be a dad. I’m doing well at work and we’re not doing badly financially, but it just seems really soon to shoulder so much responsibility. How do I deal with this? Do my trepidations mean I won’t make a good father?”
Well, a few changes in your life can be bigger than the sudden revelation you’re going to be a father! It’s not at all surprising that you should feel trepidation at that prospect, particularly since you didn’t expect to be one anytime soon. I’d be really surprised if you didn’t feel some degree of shock and uncertainty—and with that stated, I think your reaction is entirely normal and healthy and that it doesn’t have any real bearing on whether you’ll make a good father.
Since you’re doing well financially and professionally, you should be able to take care of your child, and that’s what’s most important. From that point of view, you sound like you’re ready, which is more than a lot of new parents can say! That’s already a good start since you’re doing your part responsibly to provide a good life for your new son or daughter.
As to the other aspects of parenting—like emotional commitment, childrearing practices, discipline, and so forth—there’s no one right way of doing things, and most first-time parents do make a few mistakes along the way as they learn to adjust to their new roles. Accept your mistakes and learn from them—and apologize to your child if you make them. Those are important skills to teach your child and you’ll teach them best by setting a great example. You’ll learn just as much from your child as your child will from you—although probably about different things. That’s all part of the joy of being a parent.
Considering most of us are still trying to find our way in life, it’s not surprising you’re concerned about your maturity. And that’s a good thing in the long run. Usually, the worst parents are the ones who think they’ve got it all down and that they know exactly what they’re doing. Humility is a very important quality in a parent, but so is confidence. Find a way to balance out the two and then just do your best!