As Head Coach of Boot Camp for New Dads, I get all kinds of questions from the dads-to-be (rookies) that come through our program. One question I’ve been getting more often lately goes something like “how does one deal with the mother of their child if they don’t have plans to be together once the baby comes”. Here’s my answer:
Mothers and fathers need to work together to raise their child even if they are not a couple, so the better this “partnership” is, the better for all involved and especially dad. She will go through a lot as a new mom, so be as supportive and patient as possible. Ask her how she’s doing and find out more on what happens as a woman transforms into a mom (our Helping a New Mom section is a good place to start). Spend some time with her - ideally you can go with her to the doctor and see the baby’s sonogram and hear the heart beat.
Ask her to tell you when he kicks so you can feel the baby move in her tummy, and talk to him in there so he might recognize your voice when he is born. Of course, being there for the birth is key, and probably awkward. Hold your baby as early as possible, look into his eyes and say hello; the more you feel like a father, the more you will be motivated to be patient and persistent in your efforts to be the best dad possible under these difficult circumstances. Get as educated as possible.
My best advice on the conflict that arises between new dads and moms, whether together or not, is that she will be driven by her feelings at the time, and being removed from much of the stress she will be experiencing (up every 2 hours; perhaps on her own), your best move is to be as patient and helpful as possible, with a focus on building a workable relationship for the long term. Make sure she knows you want to be the best possible dad to “her” child.
What advice would you add?