The Fifth Month of Fatherhood

by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.

calmingBecoming a father changes the way we view ourselves and the world around us. We see ourselves less as a son in relation to our own parents and more on equal footing with our own father. During the first year of parenthood it is usual for a new father to reflect on how he was raised by his own father.

In the new father's groups I have lead the dads usually feel "bitter sweet" when talking about their own fathers. Most of the dads express how they wish their own father's had spent more time with them. Many of them also see that their dads were very dedicated to the family but expressed it in working and providing economic for the family. Dad as "breadwinners," has been the prominent role model for fatherhood in the last fifty years. As we discuss our fathers in the group, many dads reflect on how being the economic provider was the way their father showed his love. Yet, men long for a father who would have been more emotionally warm and available to them. New dads wonder how much of the role modeling of fatherhood they have "inherited" from their dads.

From the research I've done it appears that fatherhood is socially constructed. What that means is that fathers usually adapt themselves to the needs of the family and community at their particular time in history. On the other hand, motherhood, has been a stable role model, particularly in the early months of parenthood. Almost universally mothers are seen as the primary caregivers of young children. With most mothers working, dads play a greater role in the nurturing and care of young children.

We are seeing a transition in the role of fatherhood, Dads are now involved in the early years of parenting and continue to play an equal role with mothers as children grow-up. This change has come about, in part, because in today's society both mothers and fathers are working. Women want work to be a meaningful part of their lives and find creative satisfaction in their careers. Fathers, not just out of necessity, but out of desire, want to be involved in meeting the daily needs in their children's lives.

It appears that for new fathers, parenthood is an important part of their identity as men. No longer do fathers want to be defined only by their work, jobs, or careers. Today, fatherhood involves caring for our children and a desire to enjoy our families as part of the creativity in our lives. Fatherhood for men has become central to finding satisfaction and meaning in life. Enjoy the adventure in your fifth month of fatherhood.

Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 5th month of fatherhood.

For your baby:

  • Your baby will enjoy playing "peek-a-boo" with you.
  • Get a bottle of soap bubbles and see if your baby enjoys watching. bubbles.

For your wife/partner:

  • Find 5 minutes a day to talk about how the day went for your wife and you.
  • Plan a video "film festival." You might enjoy comedies about family life, right about this time.

For yourself:

  • If you can, ask your father what he has enjoyed and what has been difficult for him as a father.
  • Ask a male friend about his relationship with his father.
  • If you have a brother or sister ask them to describe to you how they understand your father.

Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood. Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.

Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.