How actively are fathers participating in thebirths of their children these days?
How actively are fathers participating in thebirths of their children these days?
The activity of fathers in the family is amajor determinant of a family. However, the participation of fathersin the birth of their children is an aspect that has been changingover time, and especially in the current society. To understand thisaspect, I set out to do some interviews to get the views andresponses of fathers and understand their position in the births oftheir children. I therefore set an interview with my cousin,Weizhang. His wife is expecting their first-born child in June 2016.I could tell that he was very excited from the tone of his voice.Weizhang and his wife had been married for three years before theytook the bold step of expanding their family. Below is a detailedinterview between the soon-to–be dad, Weizhang, and me.
Me: What are your feelings about becoming afather?
Weizhang: Fatherhoodis an amazing experience. Every day I keep praying that my child willbe delivered safe and sound. I remember when my wife first told methat she was pregnant. Mixed emotions ran through my mind. For amoment there, I was frightened of the responsibility that wasbeckoning at me. Although we had planned to get a baby, the newsstill scared me, almost to death. When I accompanied my wife to theclinic for the first time, I was simply amazed at how adorable otherchildren looked. Fathers who took responsibility for their newbornsalso motivated me. Suddenly, I felt the urge to meet my baby. Thesudden change of mood also surprised me. I wanted to hold my babyright there and then. But of course it was not possible because thepregnancy was only five weeks old.
Me: How have you been involved in yourwife`s pregnancy?
Weizhang:Whatever you have seen in the movies regarding pregnancy is almosttrue. It is the most stressful of all times in a woman’s life. Thebest that I can do is to be there for her. Many a times she wakes upfeeling sick. I usually try my best to make her feel comfortable. Iprepare her breakfast, cancel all her appointments and do all thehouse chores. In extreme conditions, we both call in sick at ourworkplaces to spend more time at home. During such incidents, I makesure that she does not get out of bed. I also ensure that my wifeeats healthy and exercises for the sake of the baby. Eating healthycould be a daunting task especially in the modern society where junkis the order of the day. I motivate her to take organic food by doingthe same too. I also drag her along every time I am headed to thegym. She does not like working out, but she has to do it for the sakeof the baby.
Me: What part will you play in your child`sbirth? What part would you like to play?
Weizhang: Iwould like to hold my wife’s hand during the delivery but I justcannot do it for two reasons. One, I am still conservative and I feelthat being in the delivery with my wife is a little inappropriate.Most importantly, I am afraid of blood. The other day my wife made meto watch a video of a woman delivering, and I had to cancel my homedelivery order for Chinese food. I could not sleep at night as thetrauma kept flashing in my brain. The part that I will play duringbirth will be to source for the best hospital with caring nurses.Currently, I am interviewing close friends to find out theirexperiences in different. When the time comes, I will enroll my wifein the best maternity care we can find in our town.
Me: What do you think being a "goodfather“ means?
Weizhang:Agood father is the one who is willing to go to greater lengths forhis child. By ‘greater lengths’ I mean everything that ishumanely possible. A good father also takes part in raising hischildren. Gone are the days when the function of raising childrenlanded solely on women. Apart from providing, a good father shouldalso help the kids with their homework, take them to their dentalappointments and advise them on life’s dilemmas.
Me: How will having a child change yourlife?
Weizhang: Afterthe baby arrives, I expect to spend more time at home. I will nothave the opportunity of joining my friends in the local bar after along day at work. I am also aware that many a times, I will have towake up in the middle of the night to change diapers. And of coursethe attention I am used to receiving from my wife will be splitbetween me and the child. I have a solid plan to enable me to livethrough the transition peacefully.
The next interview is with my friend, Wenqiang,a father of one. He has a daughter who will be celebrating her secondbirthday this July. Ever since the birth of his daughter, he haschanged to be a responsible man. He rarely hangs out with his crewnowadays. Below is a one-on-one interview with him.
Me: What part did you play in the birth ofyour child? What were your feelings about this experience?
Wenqiang: whenmy wifewas almost due, I had to take leave from my workplace. I ensured thatI was beside my wife in her hospital bed throughout the entire time.I booked her with a doctor who happened to be a close friend of mineto ensure that she received the best of care. Initially, I hadplanned not to be in the delivery room during the birth, but Ichanged my mind when my wife begged me. She kept crying and sayingthat she could not deliver the baby on her own. Although I wasterrified even at the slightest thought of witnessing a delivery, Iknew it was time to take one for the team. I psyched myself up andentered the delivery room. The noise and crying in the delivery mademe very uncomfortable. It took a lot of courage for me to stay in theroom. However, when the baby was finally out, a certain feeling ofjoy ran through my spine. Suddenly, the ambience of the room changed.When I finally held the baby in my arms, I almost shed tears by justlooking at her.
Me: What are the three biggest challengesyou face as a father?
Wenqiang: Nomatter how hard I try, I cannot come up with a method of ensuringthat my daughter sleeps through the night. Her favorite time to wakeup is 2 in the morning. Either one of us has to wake up and hold thebaby for a couple of hours until she goes to sleep. Secondly, I havelost a couple of friends because I do not have time to hang out withthem anymore. Sometimes, I have to choose between accompanying mywife to the clinic and joining my friends at the local bar. Ofcourse, my family comes first. I cannot go out on a boys’ campingtrip and leave my wife to take care of our baby alone. The thirdchallenge is finances. No matter how much I plan, I always get adeficit at the end of the month. The baby comes with a ton ofexpenses. I have to buy her toys, clothes, baby food, pay the nanny,health insurance premiums, and contribute to her education fund. Ialso have to set aside some money for emergencies.
Me: What do you think a "good father“is?
Wenqiang: Agood father provides. Forget the politics of gender equality. In mostinstances, the father will provide a bigger chunk of the child’sneeds. The buck does not stop at providing. A good father is activelyinvolved in the life of his daughter. Taking care of the baby is atwo-person job. It should not be assumed that the mother isresponsible for the daily needs of the child. The only part that agood father would not contribute when taking care of offspring isbreastfeeding.
Me: How has having a child changed yourlife?
Wenqiang: Eversince I had my daughter, I have become more cautious with life.Before she was born, I never adhered to safety belt rules. I was alsofond of driving while under the influence. I am a changed man now.Everything that I do is preceded by the question, “Will I be ableto see my daughter tonight”. I am so careful that my friends say Iturned into a sissy. I don’t care about their ridicule as long as Ilive long enough to see my daughter grow into a responsible woman.
Me: What advice would you give a new father?
Wenqiang: fatherhoodis not an amazing experience as the movies portray it. Most of thetime, it is all about responsibility. You have to be psychologicallyready before you follow this path. Otherwise, your life will bemiserable. Responsibility aside, the joy of holding your daughterevery evening after work could not be traded for anything in theworld. Apart from a few hiccups here and there, fatherhood is a greatexperience. However, remember what I said earlier, it has both thejoy and the stress. It is your responsibility to find a copingmechanism.
From the conversation, Wenqiang appears to be fully involved in thelife of his daughter. I would call him a modern father. He does notleave the responsibility of taking care of the child to his wife. Hewakes up in the middle of the night to change diapers, andaccompanies his wife to the clinic. The aforementioned tasks weretraditionally left to mothers. However, Wenqiang has defiedchauvinism to be actively involved in the life of his daughter.Wenqiang is a good example of what fatherhood should be.
In conclusion, both men seem to be excitedabout fatherhood. However, the initial interview does not seem tounderstand the stresses that come with fatherhood. He is still caughtup in the excitement of being a father. Both men seem to be activelyengaged in the lives of their children before and after birth. Theyboth seem to be terrified of witnessing a live delivery. However, thesecond interviewee was able to gather enough courage to be in thesame delivery room with his wife. The first interview is adamantabout staying out of the delivery room. Only time and circumstanceswill tell whether he will change his opinion. Maybe if his wifebegged him, he would reconsider his position.
Lee, W., (2016). Experiences of an expectantfather. Personal interview.
Wenqiang, H., (2016). Experiences of a father.Personal interview.