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You're not in love with your pregnant wife's body. Not crazy about witnessing the birth. Not even sure you want a kid. So? You're just a normal guy. Here's how to recognize and cope with the taboo thoughts many men harbor.
Attention soon-to-be dads: Are you afraid of what seeing your baby being born will do to your psyche? Do you fear sex will be terrible after your wife gives birth? Are you even ambivalent about becoming a father? Do you feel guilty just thinking about this stuff?
"So-called taboo thoughts about fatherhood are common and to be expected," says Scott Haltzman, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men (Jossey-Bass, 2005). "You're crossing a major milestone full of firsts and unknowns, so it's only natural to experience many fears and anxieties."
The problem is, many expectant fathers are so ashamed of having these thoughts that they won't admit to anyone--sometimes even themselves--that they think them. Not a good policy, according to experts, who say acknowledging and understanding fatherhood-related fears is the best way to conquer them. So, with that in mind, let the confessions begin!
Taboo thought No. 1
"I'm not sure I want to be a father."
For many men, the idea of sacrificing their freedom and fun for a life of sleepless nights and dirty diapers is terrifying. Scott Kelby, author of The Book for Guys Who Don't Want Kids (Peachpit Press, 2005), was one of those men. "I was finally making money, taking nicer vacations and seeing how the other half lives," he says. "Then my wife got pregnant." Kelby believed the days when he could skip out and watch a game with his buds or enjoy a spontaneous night on the town with his wife would soon be over. And he was right.
"There is no question that having a child makes your life different, but different does not mean worse," says Armin Brott, author of The Expectant Father (Abbeville Press, 2003) and host of a popular parenting radio show in San Francisco. Brott acknowledges that, yes, you do lose some freedoms when you have a child, but you also gain a ton of opportunities, from crawling around on your hands and knees acting silly to passing on your world view and values to your child.
It took the birth of Kelby's first child for him to realize that becoming a father was the best thing he'd ever done. Now he spends a good portion of his time spreading that message to other skeptical dads-to-be. "It changes your life into something better than you ever imagined," he says. Kelby now finds himself happily blowing off golf, ball games and other things he used to find so important to do stuff like show his son Star Wars for the first time.