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What Dads Expect When They're Expecting

What Dads Expect When Mom is Expecting

Venus and Mars Can Share the Same Air continued...

They need to listen to men's fears, too. "She needs to encourage him to talk about what's going on with him," Brott says. There may not be a whole lot you can do about something, but just sharing these feelings, and acknowledging that there's nothing wrong with them, can help, he says. And don't forget to share the joys, as well. "You can just talk about how delightfully happy you both are that this is going to happen," Brott says.

Brott suggests that one of the best ways for men to get involved in the pregnancy from the start is to go to all the prenatal visits. "You may just be sitting there twiddling your thumbs, but it will at least bring you into the process. Listen to the heartbeat, watch the ultrasound, do whatever you can. The earlier you get involved, the more you're going to be a part of the thing; and the more involved a father you are, the better your child is going to turn out."

Studies have shown that children -- and parents, too -- benefit substantially from the relationships forged with fathers early on. Not only are the children more socially and emotionally adjusted later, but they tend to be smarter. Marriages also are happier, which contributes to more satisfying, and possibly even healthier, lives of the parents.

Exchanging war stories -- and laughs -- with other men also can help give them some perspective and an outlet to vent. It may be something as informal as playing golf or having some beers with friends who also happen to be dads. Or it can be something as structured as Boot Camp for New Dads, a men-only program offered in 72 hospitals across the country. Check out the Web site for more information.

At Boot Camp for New Dads, veteran dads bring their new babies in for a few hours on a Saturday for a hands-on approach to helping "rookies" gain some practical tools regarding everything from safety-proofing a home to changing a diaper and frank discussions on sex and marriage after babies. New dads return once more with their babies after they're born.

"It's nice to hear what other dads are going through, what they expected and how they dealt with their problems," says Hugh Damon, a realtor from Newport Beach, Calif., who first attended boot camp a few weeks before his son Cole, now 9 months, was born. "No matter where you are on the continuum, there's someone else who's experiencing similar things as you."

Myth No. 2: Dads Can't Walk the Talk

The Bumbling Dad stereotype still threatens to shake the confidence of many dads-to-be. Long conditioned to accept women as the primary caretakers, men are often worried they just won't be as good as their wives at handling the kids, especially newborns, or that they won't be able to develop as close a bond with their babies.

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