If you’re a teen and you’ve learned that you are going to become a father, this could be a confusing time for you. It’s completely normal to have lots of different thoughts and feelings, and it will take a long time to get used to the idea of becoming a father. This guide will help you think through some of the issues you are facing.
How might I feel when I find out I am going to be a father?
When you find out you are going to be a father, you might feel:
As with other major moments in life, it can be helpful to talk with a trusted adult, including your health care provider, parent/caregiver, or coach. It also may help to talk with the pregnant individual as they may be feeling many of the same things as you.
It’s important to reflect on your own on how involved you want to be. Research shows children who have their fathers involved in their life have better physical and mental health as well as other benefits. Your involvement can start in pregnancy. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with the pregnant individual and respect each other’s views.
What should MY role be in my baby’s life?
Becoming a father will change your life forever. Once you become a parent, you are responsible for your child for at least the first 18 years. Even with the help of your family and friends, being a parent is not easy. It can be complicated and frustrating.
Here are some questions to think about. Your answers to these questions will help you figure out what role you want to play in your child’s life.
- Can I financially support a child? A family?
- How much money will it take to provide food, clothes, childcare, etc.?
- Do I need to find a job?
- Will I be required to pay child support?
- Are there government or social services that can help financially?
- Am I ready to care for my child?
- Am I prepared for a lifetime commitment?
- Have I had an honest conversation about having a baby with the future mother of my child?
- Am I ready to provide the future mother of my child with the emotional and physical support she/they needs at this time?
- Do I know how to care for a baby?
- Am I ready and willing to give up my time with friends to spend time with my child?
- Can I continue my education?
If you are no longer with your partner, it’s still possible to take an active role in your child’s life. It’s easiest to do this if you both can get along and agree on how you will be involved.
What rights will I have as a father?
As a father, you will have the following rights:
- The right to custody: There are different kinds of custody. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. You may share physical custody, or the child may live with only one parent (and visit the other parent). Legal custody means you have the right to get information about your child, such as medical records and school information, and you have the right to be part of making important decisions about your child.
- The right to see your child
- The right to know your child and to participate in your child’s life
What responsibilities will I have as a father?
Some of the responsibilities you’ll have as a father are:
- The responsibility to care for your child both financially and emotionally
- The responsibility to be involved in your child’s life
- The responsibility to make sure that your child’s needs are met
- The responsibility to make sure that your child is safe and well cared for
How can I help during the pregnancy?
- Communicate. Talk with the pregnant individual about their feelings and fears – they may be having some of the same thoughts as you. Give them a chance to let you know how they are feeling and spend time listening to what they have to say.
- Be sensitive to their physical condition and emotional needs by understanding that they may be physically uncomfortable at times and may notice changes in their moods.
- Make it clear that you are in this together. Let them know that you want to be as involved in the pregnancy as possible. This may include going to medical appointments, having a conversation with their parents, and preparing for the baby together.
- Attend childbirth and parenting classes.
- Do some reading about parenting to help you prepare. (See the resources section)
- Plan ahead. Think about the financial needs of raising a child and start saving money (if you can). Consider finding a part time job to help pay for things, including clothing, food, diapers, strollers, and child care expenses.
How can I provide for my child?
Having a child can be expensive. The better your education, the more likely you are to get a better paying job that will help you to support your baby. At first it may be hard to juggle everything, but the most important example you can set for your baby is to better yourself.
Making the choice to care for yourself by getting a good education will help you care for your child in the long run.
Ways to help yourself include:
- Finishing high school
- Completing your GED
- Getting vocational training
- Going to college
Earning money is not the only way to help provide for your child. You can provide love and support for your child by spending time with them, helping with childcare, and being a good role model.
You cannot expect to know everything about being a father, but it’s important for you as a new parent to be able to ask for help. You may have a parent/guardian, friend, or family member who can help out, and you may be able to learn about fatherhood from your baby’s health care provider or a counselor.
Your worries, concerns and fears about becoming a father are normal. The good news is that you are not alone, and there are resources out there that will help you get ready to become a great father.
Websites – Fathering
- National Center for Fathering
- Movember Family Man
- A Driver’s Manual for New Dads (English)
- Manual Del Conductor Para Nuevos Papás (Español)
Websites – Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Parenting Magazines Online
- Brott, Armin. The Expectant Father. Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-To-Be.
- Brown, Mason. Breathe: A Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy.
- Fairview Health Services. The Dad Book: A Guide to Pregnancy, Labor, Birth, and Parenting.
- Goldman, Marcus. The Joy of Fatherhood: The First Twelve Months.
- Greenberg, Gary. Be Prepared. A Practical Handbook for New Dads.
- Lieman, Todd. Go To Guides For Guys ABCs for Expectant Dads.
- Mungeaum, Frank. A Guy’s Guide to Pregnancy: Preparing for Parenthood Together.
- Pettit, Paul. Congratulations! You’re going to be a dad. What’s Ahead from A-Z for First Time Fathers.
- Sears, James and Robert. Father’s First Steps. 25 Things Every New Dad Should Know.
- American Pregnancy Helpline 1-866-942-6466