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Busting 10 Common Myths about Fatherhood

Super Dad; parenting myths

Let’s talk about some unhelpful common parenting myths through the lens of fatherhood. Fatherhood often comes with a pre-packaged set of expectations. These harmful myths can obscure the real, lived experiences of dads everywhere. If you’re not vigilant, these myths can negatively influence the way you raise kids. They can shape your behavior as you try to adhere to societal expectations instead of doing what feels natural to you.

Let’s progress through some of the most common parenting myths that relate to dads. In the process, we’ll hopefully come out the other side better informed and better prepared to tackle the challenges of fatherhood.

Myth 1: Only the Expectant Mum’s Feelings Are Important

It’s undeniable that pregnant women experience transformative physical and emotional changes during their journey to childbirth and beyond. You should make sure you’re aware of these various changes to support your partner as she navigates the changes in her body. However, this doesn’t mean a dad-to-be’s feelings are on the back burner. Expectant fathers have stresses, too. Of course, it’s important to be a caring, empathetic provider for your partner, but this should always be a two-way street.

Let’s face it, chances are you’re both worried. You’re both excited. You both have a tendency to panic as you contemplate the future! This is normal for both parents. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner can deepen your connection during this life-changing time. Talking through your stresses, as well as sharing your excitement, can help you alleviate the burden of anxiety together as you prepare for parenthood.

Myth 2: Men Don’t Know How to Care for Young Children

Woman breastfeeding on a blue chair outside; Parent Myths

Let’s put this to rest: parenting skills aren’t distributed based on gender. Aside from the biological act of breastfeeding (and there are ways around this for dads to be involved in feeding too), there’s nothing a mother can do that a dad can’t learn. Ultimately, you get out what you put in. You can learn and be an active father as long as you have the mindset to approach the tasks with enthusiasm.

That means:

  • Changing diapers
  • Feeding your baby
  • Helping to soothe them when they cry
  • Bathing them
  • Reading them stories
  • And so much more!

Being present and willing to learn on the job makes you more than capable of caring for your child. Raising children is best done as a team of new parents where all responsibilities are shared. And guess what, as your child develops, you’ll keep getting new responsibilities to learn and master. Just know there’s nothing that makes you as a man ill-disposed to pitching in and getting things right.

Myth 3: Men Who Focus on Their Children Can’t Pursue a Career Too

Balancing career and family is not exclusively a mother’s challenge; fathers face this too. One of the most common parenting myths is that mothers should stay at home to take care of the newborn while fathers continue to go out to work. This has traditionally been the standard arrangement.

Man in black suit and brown shoes sitting on carpeted stairs; Parenting myths

However, the modern workplace is gradually adapting to the needs of working parents, including dads. Many employers now offer paternity leave to offer dads the chance to spend time at home.

Further, more and more dads are choosing to be the primary caregivers in the home.

It’s about finding what works for your family, whether that’s flexible hours, shared parental leave, or, if circumstances allow, choosing to be a stay-at-home dad.

Good parenting relies on coming to an arrangement that disregards old traditions in favor of what works for you.

Myth 4: You Are Destined to Be Just Like Your Own Father

Let’s not delve too much into pop psychology here. Just know that you have agency as a parent and your fatherhood traits don’t have to be determined by your genes.

While we’re often influenced by our parents, we’re not bound to repeat their patterns. You may feel like you had strict parents, or particularly a disciplinarian dad in the old mold. This does not mean you will be an authoritarian parent, too. Have the courage to find your own path to raising kids.

Fatherhood is your chance to take the best from your experiences and blend them with your values and aspirations and those of your partner. Remember, you have the power to define what kind of dad you want to be.

Myth 5: Dads Are Just Backup Parents

Dad reading a story book to his young baby

Dads aren’t simply the sideshow to the main act of motherhood. It’s one of the biggest myths that fathers are destined to play the junior role in a team of supportive parents.

Of course, the key thing here is that good parenting relies on sharing responsibilities equally and adapting to each other’s particular strengths and weaknesses, whatever they may be.

You want to raise well-behaved kids together. The best chance of that happening in your family is for there to be two actively engaged parents to help children thrive.

Therefore, your role is not limited to support; it’s active participation in shaping your child’s life. From making critical decisions, to disciplining children, to helping children learn emotional regulation, to sharing in the day-to-day care, your involvement is invaluable.

Myth 6: Fathers Must be Examples of Strength and Stoicism

We’ve moved past the archetype of an emotionally unavailable, strong and stoic model of a male father figure. Either we had a dad like this ourselves or we’re familiar with the authoritative, stern, cookie-cutter dad character in various movies and books of the 70s and 80s. For those dads of the past, showing emotion was a sign of vulnerability and something to be avoided as weakness.

Today, most men understand that being open, vulnerable, and emotionally available is part of being a strong dad. It teaches your children the value of expressing their feelings and builds a deeper, more honest family connection based on healthy relationships.

Myth 7: A Good Dad Has All the Answers

Word tiles spelling out the words ‘Amazing dad’; Parenting myth

Spoiler alert: no one does.

The most cynical interpretation of growing up into adult children is that you slowly come to understand that your mum and dad aren’t quite the omnipotent, all-knowing forces you thought they were. This process is inevitable as you grow out of early childhood fantasies.

As parents, we’re much better off understanding from the outset that we have gaps in understanding, we’re not the complete package, and we’ll make mistakes. Parenting is as much about learning and growing as it is about teaching and guiding. It’s okay not to have all the answers. What’s important is your problem-solving skills and willingness to learn as you go.

Myth 8: Fatherhood Comes Naturally to Every Man

Becoming a good father can be a learning curve. But you should already be aware of this from everyday life. All roles take a little getting used to. It’s a mix of instinct and experience, but you’ll need to go through a bit of trial and error, too. The important lesson to take from those trial-and-error moments is that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything right the first time. There’s plenty of guidance and resources you can find to help you on your journey. You can start by exploring our other content at Cheeky Daddy. And it’s not just the day-in-day-out tasks of fatherhood – the emotional aspect can be a challenge, too.

Another common parenting myth is that you should immediately feel a natural undying love for your newborn. The truth is that, for many fathers, this lifelong bond to their children actually takes a while to develop and grow. It’s another case of needing a little patience and not being too hard on yourself if these things dont automatically come to pass as soon as you become a father.

Myth 9: Real Men Don’t Struggle With Fatherhood

Acknowledging struggles and admitting to mental health issues doesn’t diminish your strength as a father or a man. Facing and talking about these challenges head-on is actually a significantly positive step. It is proof of your commitment to being the best dad you can be to your children.

Remember, seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t hesitate to speak whoever you feel comfortable with discussing your feelings: professionals, friends, your partner, or family members can all offer outlets for support.

Debunking Fatherhood Myths

Each of these myths, when unpacked and challenged, reveal a more realistic and less-intimidating understanding of what fatherhood can be. The important thing is for us to dispel these myths and remove that aspect of fear that may surround them. We need to encourage dads-to-be to approach fatherhood with confidence, not a daunting anxiety.

Have you encountered these myths in your journey as a father? How have you navigated the expectations versus the realities of fatherhood? Share your stories and insights in the comments below.

Let’s continue to build a community that supports all dads on their fatherhood journeys.

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