The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What are the challenges that fathers undergo during their partner’s pregnancy?

During pregnancy, fathers must start to develop an attachment to the child they have not yet met and, at this point, can only know through their imagination. For many men this task can be quite challenging, as they do not go through the same massive bodily changes that women do. The baby may not seem quite real to them. This appears to be verified in a 2006 study by Lindsey Gerner, where the strongest predictor to paternal-fetal attachment was the number of ultrasound visits. Evidently, the sonograms helped the babies feel more real to the fathers. Additionally, new fathers often feel intimidated by the enormous responsibility of parenthood, anxiously doubting their capacity to handle it.

While women generally express such anxiety in terms of their ability to nurture, men often focus upon financial concerns. Many men are intensely concerned with their capacity to provide financial support for their growing family. Finally, an expectant father’s experience of pregnancy may be highly dependent on the state of the relationship with the mother. Several studies note relationships between a father’s marital satisfaction and his involvement and satisfaction with pregnancy and child rearing. This suggests that, although involvement with their children is a profoundly meaningful experience for most men, the father-child relationship is highly influenced by the marital relationship. The mother-child relationship is probably not influenced to such a great extent. This highlights a pattern that will hold throughout parenthood; both for the marital relationship and the child, it is crucial that the focus on the new baby not overshadow the needs of the marriage.


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