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What Dads Expect When They're Expecting

What Dads Expect When Mom is Expecting

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

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.

In studies of parents with newborns, men picked up babies, cooed, cuddled, rocked and smiled at their babies just as much as mothers did, and they responded just as competently and quickly as mothers to baby's cries for food, sleep or plain comfort. "There is simply no evidence that men are not just as caring and loving and nurturing and naturally in tune with their child's needs as women," Brott says.

What happens is that men begin suppressing these instincts because they're afraid they don't know what they're doing or aren't supposed to know. "In a couple of months you're in a situation where the dad doesn't know what to do," says Brott, "and that further compounds his feeling of inadequacy and helplessness."

Just Do It

The tide seems to be shifting. Quality time was the buzzword parents used to hear. Now, some experts believe, quality time is overrated and quantity -- all the daily contact, even if it's just cooing to your baby as you type away at your computer or stand at the grocery store checkout, is critical.

That strategy is working for Bob Furka, a banker and Boot Camp veteran from Wheeling, W.Va. Audra, now 17 months, looks to him just as readily for whatever she needs as to her mom. But their bond didn't happen as a result of those poignant moments when she fell asleep on his chest as he watched TV after work, he says. Their connection came from rolling up his sleeves from Day 1, changing diapers or even carting her in an infant carrier to the dry cleaner. Those everyday routines, especially on weekends when he has more time to spend, are "a privilege, not a responsibility," Furka says.

"Those are the moments where the really good stuff is," agrees D'Arcy, who was a stay-at-home dad for the first two years after his daughter was born seven years ago. "That's where you really bond. It's all those moments where you build this kind of silent, invisible connection, this bond of trust between the two of you."

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