The Birth of My First Child

Warwick Pudney* suggests that in the elusive and subjective search for happiness, the personal involvement with the first moment of your child's life are the most transforming and life-filled moments that we live. They are moments when new purpose comes to a man's life and bonds of attachment are generated that are rarely extinguished. The shame is that many men miss it and that's not good for men, our children and the world at large.

Warren Howie, interviewed for an article in Father & Child magazine, talked about his feelings when the first of his two daughters was born: "I had some very strong emotions about this child. I was filled with joy and felt protective and loving towards her." [Father&Child, September 2001].

So if those first moments are so important, how is it that so many men miss out? Warwick Pudney found that the more he looked at fatherhood, the clearer it became that there were some definite patterns which started to become evident at the very beginning of fatherhood, around the birth of the first child. To gain more information, Pudney interviewed and surveyed men in New Zealand and Australia and eight things became apparent from this research:

  1. We need to know that Fathering is IMPORTANT.
  2. We need to recreate the fathering map to overcome the disadvantage of poor father relationships.
  3. We need to claim our place as fathers.
  4. We need to overcome a learned helplessness around parenting and cease our dependence on women.
  5. Women have claimed ownership of children. We need to share guardianship.
  6. The birthing professionals need to deliberately include us.
  7. We need to claim our emotional processes as important.
  8. Many dads are doing a wonderful job.

* Address delivered to the Conference on Fathering, September 1998 - Organised by Manukau Institute of Technology.

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