How-to book offers new dads help and humor
According to census figures, one in four American dads takes care of his preschool-age child while the mother is at work. And the number of American children who are being raised primarily by their fathers is now more than 2 million.
They're part of a new generation of men who are redefining fatherhood and masculinity. They want to be part of the child-nurturing team, but they don't always have role models to follow because their own fathers most likely thought of parenting as women's work.
'Every day, 4,000 men become first-time fathers, which means that every day there are 4,000 confused men wandering around,' says Portland resident Frank Mungeam, author of 'A Guy's Guide to Pregnancy: Preparing for Pregnancy Together' and the father of an 8-year-old son.
Mungeam has a degree in psychology from Harvard, but his career has been in local television programming. He felt compelled to write a pregnancy book for dads, he says, after his trips to bookstores turned up only disappointing textbooks full of complex medical information.
His humorous and enlightening how-to book includes those famous lists that guys seem to respond to.
Among his top 10 pregnancy fears for guys, Mungeam includes 'I'll faint during delivery.' In his list of the 12 things a man can do to support his partner, No. 6 is 'Tell her she looks good even when you notice her weight gain.'
Mungeam stresses the importance of partner bonding at this time, showing future dads how they can offer support while being involved in the pregnancy.
'Pregnancy is a relationship experience for a man, not a medical experience,' he says. 'And it's the time to start practicing the partnership so when the baby comes, Dad is part of the team.'
Then there's the hormone thing. Until recently, it was commonly believed that men's attachment to their children was purely social and emotional, with mothers doing all of the physical bonding, facilitated by pregnancy and hormonal changes.
But, according to a Mayo Clinic study featured in this month's issue of Psychology Today, men also go through hormonal changes during their partners' pregnancies. These changes even cause some men to experience pregnancy-like symptoms, such as nausea and that dratted weight gain.
With the reality that it often takes two paychecks to make a household run, it's refreshing to know that men are not only willing and able to step up to the parenting plate, but they're hormonally prepared as well.