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How can I prepare myself for fatherhood?

Prepare yourself by preparing for the birth of your baby. Call the hospital where your baby will be born and find out what classes they offer. Attend the classes together. This will help you ease into the adjustment of becoming a parent.

Becoming a parent is not an event, but a process. It is complicated and very challenging. It takes time and energy, interest and responsibility. Most of all it takes loving your child.

Fathers play a unique role in their child’s life. Research shows that children who grow up with fathers that stay involved in their life tend to enjoy all kinds of benefits.

Children who have their father involved in their lives are more confident and less anxious in unfamiliar settings, better able to deal with frustration (even as a toddler), are better able to gain a sense of independence, be compassionate as adults, have a higher self esteem and be more sociable.

Infants who have fathers that are involved with their care have been found to be more cognitively developed at one year of age than infants with absent fathers.

Your involvement in your child’s life from infancy through adulthood impacts your child’s lifetime intellectual and emotional development.

Unfortunately between the high rate of premarital births and divorce in our country it is believed that over 25,000,000 children are affected by the lack of a father in their childhood. Some would say that every social ill faced by America today may stem from this lack of fathering.

Sometimes a mother is faced raising a child alone due to circumstances totally out of her control. When that happens, hopefully another male figure: her own father, a brother, an uncle or a friend will step forward and help that mother.

As you raise your child remember these 10 things to help you be the best father you can possibly be:

1. Love your child’s mother

2. Spend time with your child

3. Talk to your child

4. Discipline with a gentle spirit

5. Be a role model to your child and to other fathers

6. Be a teacher to your child

7. Eat together as a family

8. Read to your child

9. Show affection

10. Realize that a father’s job is never done.

At the U.S. Open Golf tournament in 1999, Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson were separated by one stroke on the last hole. It was a dramatic and emotional moment when Stewart made the hole and won the tournament. Mickelson stood to the side to allow Stewart his time to celebrate.

Suddenly Stewart ran over to Mickelson, whose wife was expecting their first baby any day, grabbed him and said: “Good luck with the baby. There is nothing like being a father.” He was so right.

Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Family & Friends. Contact her at