Am I ready to be a father?
My wife and I knew we wanted to start trying to have kids soon after our wedding. We had discussed starting a family and we were both almost 30, so we figured why wait. My wife got pregnant with our first child 3 months after our wedding. During the pregnancy we did not find out the sex of the baby. We were both super excited. Daily I could see the changes my wife was going through and while internally I knew our lives would be different, there was something not real about the situation. After all the changes, while I could witness them, were not happening to me.
Then the day came, I thought I was prepared to be a father. I had worked with kids of all ages for various periods of my life. My wife gave birth to a healthy boy. It was magnificent. All of my fear, all of my excitement rushed through me the first time I held my boy. I knew then and there that while I would make mistakes, that I would not always do the right thing, that I was ready to be a father. I loved and love my boy. He instantly became the center of my universe and my heart center.
A few years later my wife became pregnant again. Again we did not find out the sex of the baby. When my daughter was born, I was ecstatic, yet overwhelmed with fear. For some reason I was not ready to be a father to a little girl. I was terrified I would not do something correctly. Call it a double standard or whatever you must. I adjusted quickly to my son, but my daughter freaked me out. I loved and love her so deeply, but those first two months I was terrified. Scared I would drop her. I had thoughts of all the crap boys put girls through and was filled with anxiety about how to protect her. How to raise her so she could protect herself. I was worried I would say something that would shame her or make her struggle with body image. I was nervous that I would say something that would make her think less of herself.
This youtube video is absolutely amazing for all dads of girls and sums things up nicely. I thought long and hard about being a father to a girl. Knowing I want my daughter to grow up thinking the same things as my son. She can do anything she wants. She is intelligent, kind, and beautiful and the that her looks do not add to or subtract from her kindness or intelligence. Just as my son’s handsomeness does not add or subtract to his. I thought about not just my interactions with her, but my interactions with all women. As the video points out, it is not enough just to treat your daughter with respect and show them that you believe they are 100% equal on all fronts, but as dads of girls we must interact with all women in that way. We must show them that we respect their mothers as equal partners, that we do not degrade them, call them names in angst or as a joke. We do not make comments about a woman’s looks — that is derogatory — and we do not associate a woman’s looks to their ability to succeed. Once I thought about this, once I realized I fully believe these things and that I would live the rest of my life teaching my daughter that she never needs to apologize for being right, never needs to use her looks to get something, never needs to allow herself to be shamed, touched inappropriately or called names with out sticking up for herself, I realized I was ready to be a dad to this wonderful girl.