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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...

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.

But what any veteran dad who's jumped in anyway knows is, it just isn't so.

Take baby basics. "I actually surprised myself with my ability to deal with the messiest diaper or the throw-up or whatever," says Damon. Or the technique he's developed for quieting his son down, which he'll volunteer with the authority of an expert: "I take him outside and let the wind get on his face. He perks up when he sees something different."

"Men feel very unprepared during the pregnancy, and they feel even more unprepared after the birth when fallout could occur," says Brott. "But there's no gene that predisposes women to be better parents or more caring parents. It's all 100% on-the-job-training, and the thing is, you can learn (the basics) in a day." Parenting preparation class offered at many local hospitals may be just the thing for those who are panicked.

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