Early fatherhood is accompanied by challenges

The birth of a child is a life changing event and it is true with young fathers too. Early fatherhood has consequences that have the potential of growing a young man into a father of sterling character, or serving to diminish the spirit and character of a young father. The path a man chooses isn’t predetermined, and early fatherhood may yield surprising results depending on where the road leads.

Crossroads aren’t always well-defined in early fatherhood situations and hinge upon a young father’s support system and life skills as well as his character traits. A young father has a difficult road ahead in learning to share, bond, and guide a child toward good choices in life. He is simultaneously working to meet the needs of wife and child and very likely missing the carefree life or dreams he once held.

One of the most difficult things for a young man is learning to share his life. He first learns to share his life with his wife (or girlfriend) and after a child is born, he has to learn to share his wife with his child. He is no longer the center of attention and affection. Sometimes he feels left out of the equation because of the constant demands of motherhood and dependency of a new born child.

Parenting is a new season of life with a pressing dynamic added to the man and wife relationship. Time and energy are in short supply adding stress to the relationship. Even the most secure man may feel a bit neglected in the first months after bringing a new baby home. His wife and lover has a new dimension added to her life and she is absorbed with loving and caring for the baby. She changed; she became a mother.

Every thinking person, needs a sense of moving in a forward direction and young fathers are no exception. However, without an established career and with added responsibilities, young fathers may feel they are standing still, or worse, they may see themselves sliding backwards. Missed opportunities and loss of self are some of the emotional struggles that haunt young fathers.

In olden times, men were hunters and protectors. Today, with some exceptions, men tend to be more task oriented than relationship oriented. Yet, without a vision for his life that includes his family, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Without a vision for his family, a young father may choose to become a self absorbed, absentee father. He might remain present in the flesh, but provides little emotional support for his family.

Emotional detachment is one way a young man might learn to cope with the consequences of early fatherhood. A wife may be left wondering why the spark died and why the relationship faded so quickly, because a common trait of some men is to keep their struggles locked inside. The alternative is no better when young fathers blame their partners for their own struggles of early fatherhood.

Women, for the most part, are natural caregivers and used to being with young children, but young men often don’t have a great amount of experience or interaction with infants before they become fathers. They’re proud fathers, but for many young fathers it’s a new experience that takes some getting used to at first. In time, a father learns that babies are not easily breakable and relaxes. He can then bond with infant son or daughter.

There are exceptions of course. In large families people learn to share. There are circumstances in some families where an older male had to take responsibility for the care of his siblings due to illness or death of a parent. His experience in coping and knowledge of caring for children increases his life skills and helps to prepare him for fatherhood.

Though he will face some of the same emotional struggles and hardships that other young fathers face, he is a product of a family that learned to pull together to meet their goals. He knows how it is done and knows how to share. He has a vision for his family and often will work to meet the family needs while finding ways to meet personal goals of obtaining his education and moving forward.

The ideal young father comes from a home filled with love and encouragement. He falls head over heels in love with his infant child at first sight. He knows how to love and knows beyond a doubt that he can count on his parents for emotional support and if needed, for child care. He faces struggles but within his circle of family love, he moves to early fatherhood with a greater measure of confidence.

Then, there are the young men who have never had a family of their own and they’ve longed for the love of a wife and family. Even in tough times, they know they’ve found something good and wonderful. Their home is where their heart resides and is protected at all costs.

None of the examples in this article confine a young man facing early fatherhood to a particular set of consequences. Life is a great teacher and those willing to learn and persevere can change the results of the most challenging circumstances. It’s true though, that a young father with a good support system is likely to find solutions that allow him to move forward while learning to become a great father.