Starting under the guidance of the hospital nurses, you will learn quickly as you care for your infant. You’ll find you know more than you think you do (AKA instincts kick in), and you begin to trust yourself. Then, over weeks and months, you’ll continually gain knowledge and become the expert (along with mom) on anticipating and meeting your baby’s needs.
The big change you can’t yet appreciate happens inside you. Your genes will trigger and direct powerful “dad” reserves that come online as you need them. They include neurons, synapses, and hormones that form a new dad sector in your brain that will support and reinforce your drive to do your best as a dad. As fatherhood gets tough in those early months, so will you.
Another big factor will be changes in your baby’s brain that occur in sync with yours (See Dad/Baby Brain Fusion). Your connection becomes hardwired, which is why your baby gets excited when you walk in the room; a goofy smile alone will make all your hard work, sacrifice and stress worth it. The result is a father who will do anything to protect and care for his child, and a child with the ability to get dad to do it.
As you adjust to being a dad, you’ll experience wide-ranging feelings that will be new to you; your brain will also transform and process loads of issues. You’ll be surprised by the workload, and sleep deprivation will take its toll, which may include conflict with your partner: you’ll work your way through it.
When your child is six months old, you’ll be a different man. A dad in all respects, who has fully committed himself to his child. A dad who has been tested and succeeded. Someone who works harder at home and on the job. A man who has developed patience and maybe cleaned up his act some. A better man.
When we ask our veteran dads how they transformed into fathers, they find it hard to remember who they were pre-baby. But they all know how they got there—by doing their best day by day.
“Step up and be there. And keep coming back. You’re going to make mistakes – everybody does. You learn on the job.” — Veteran Dad
“Parenting, it’s like a cult. You can’t understand it until you’re in it, and then you can’t imagine things any other way.” — New Dad
“Just get into it from the beginning. Don’t worry about doing it wrong; don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Don’t be scared you’re going to mess up, everyone does. Just get in there from the beginning and you’ll be good to go.” — Veteran Dad
“If you’re wondering how your life changes, there’s only one word for it. Completely.” — Veteran Dad
“Being a dad is pretty cool. The first couple of months were difficult, but when she looks across the room and finds me, it’s just cool.” — Veteran Dad
Transformation into a Dad (1:30)