Unspoken: How to Deal with the Secret Fears all Fathers Share

The moment my son was born, I knew that everything was different. The first time I held him in my arms, still covered in fluid and muck from seven hours of labor, I felt more joy than I knew it was humanly possible to experience. At that moment, I felt hopeful, inspired, and determined to be the best father the world had ever seen. I also felt completely terrified.

Let’s be real for a minute gents. Fatherhood is the most important and the most fulfilling job we’re ever going to have. It’s also the most intimidating challenge we face as men. I don’t really care about how modern society tries to define fatherhood. Being a real man is all about caring for your children, instilling discipline in them, teaching them to live their own life, and showing them all the love, they deserve. The reality is that life is hard, and your kids are going to learn how to cope by looking at how you handle it. No pressure, right?

Here’s the thing: we all have fears we don’t talk about as fathers. Some are unique to your situation. Many more are common fears shared by every dad on the planet. The point I’m making is that you’re not alone, and being afraid doesn’t make you weak. As you’ll come to see, it actually makes you strong. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common fears fathers share, and talk about how we can deal with them while remaining strong for our kids.

I Don’t Make Enough to Provide for My Family

This is by far the most common fear most fathers have. When your child was on the way, you may very well have thought, “How are we ever going to afford this kid?” You may be asking yourself that question to this day.

As a father, your instincts are going to direct you towards providing security and comfort for your family. The money you make has a huge impact on what kind of support you can actually provide. But here’s the thing – you can be relatively poor, and still provide a great environment for your kid to grow up in.

Learn to Do a Lot with a Little

When it comes to gauging how your finances will impact your parenting experience, here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Your child doesn’t have to have the most expensive stuff to be happy. I can tell you from experience – the knockoff brand Golden Puffs tastes just as good as Golden Crisp at a fraction of the cost. So long as your children are fed, clothed, have shelter, and feel loved, they’ll feel like the luckiest kids on the planet.
  • Don’t define your success by someone else’s. Just because your neighbor Bob has all of his kids enrolled in an expensive private academy, that doesn’t mean your kids have to do the same.
  • You don’t have to take expensive trips to have a great time. Children are thrilled just to get to spend time with you. They can be just as happy at the local playground as they are at Disney World, so long as they’re with you.

Children Will Ruin My Marriage

This is one that most fathers feel completely ashamed to admit (if they’re willing to admit it at all). We’ve all been told countless times that when we become fathers, our sole focus should be on catering to our child’s every need and desire. I’m here to tell you – that’s a load of crap.

A report by the New York Post revealed that parents who let their marriage falter for the sake of their children are more susceptible to depression, divorce more frequently, and produce entitled children. If we’re not prioritizing our marriage above our children, we’re failing not only ourselves and our spouse, but our children as well.

Dealing With Martial Fears Post-Children

As you adjust to your new role as a father, you have to take the time to focus on your wife too. I’m not saying you can take every weekend off from the kids (though that sounds amazing), but at some point every week, you should be doing something for just the two of you. If you need to hire a sitter or call in the grandparents, so be it.

Great parents aren’t great because they’re so awesome individually. It’s because they work together well as a team. If your team dynamic falls apart, your ability to be an effective parent suffers too. Continue to love your wife more than your kids, treat her like a queen, and above all, get the two of you away from the kids now and then.

The bottom line is this gent – if you love your spouse more than you love your children, you’re doing fatherhood the right way.

If the Partnership Fails

Now here’s a cold, hard truth that we all have to face as fathers – children do indeed have the potential to wreck your marriage. That’s in spite of everything I said before. Your marriage may have been great when you and the wife just had to focus on each other. When your children enter the equation, the dynamic is going to shift. For you and your spouse, that shift may be so traumatic to your partnership that it just doesn’t endure.

You’re already keenly aware of how fatherhood has changed you. What you can’t fully understand is how it has changed your wife. While your instincts are to protect and provide, hers are to nurture and devote herself to her children. Ideally, these two instincts compliment each other. However, the way you both act on those instincts can drive a wedge between you.

There may come a time when your marriage, your parenting partnership, just doesn’t work. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. If it does, don’t believe the hype that faking it for the sake of your kids will make their lives better. It can actually damage their development worse than a divorce. If your partnership fails, you need to be prepared to make an amicable split for the sake of your family.

I’m Not Going to be the Perfect Dad

Who is? Seriously, this is a common fear that shouldn’t be a fear at all, but I totally get where you’re coming from. You want to do your absolute best to prepare your kids to make their way in the world. You want them to be smarter, make more money, and live a more comfortable life than you. That’s okay. What’s not okay is expecting to be this perfect parent who never makes a mistake.

Learning to Be Perfectly Imperfect

If you’re constantly trying to execute every aspect of parenthood perfectly, you’ll burn yourself out. Instead, you need to treat fatherhood like any other aspect of your life – do the best you can, learn from your mistakes, and constantly improve. Keep these things in mind when you doubt your own abilities:

  • You love your kids despite their imperfections (and you know they’re not perfect). Do you really think that they don’t love you just the same?
  • Your children model their behavior after yours. If you beat yourself up after every single mistake, what do you think they’ll do?
  • Nobody can do anything exactly right the first time. By watching you struggle, fail, and keep trying, your children will learn to overcome setbacks and achieve their goals.

It’s the Fear that Makes You a Good Father

Remember how I said in the intro that being afraid doesn’t make you weak? That’s because your fear makes you strong. If you’re not afraid, it means you just don’t care. When we find something we love, we want to protect it, and we’re afraid of losing it. Your fear is an indicator of how much you love your children and how devoted you are to them as a father.  That’s a great thing. Turn your fear into a motivator to become the best father you can possibly be. Don’t let it hold you back from becoming the father that your children deserve, no matter how imperfect he may be.

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