When is a father born?



“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never. The mother is absolutely new!” – Rajneesh


This quote was given to me at my blessingway and we had a big chat about how first time round you are also birthing yourself as a mother.

It’s something I’ve read before but not something I had thought about before having Eamon. I think with your first baby, that you’re so focused on the baby that you forget about how it will change you as well. Or at least that’s how it was for me anyway.  I think the way we labour and birth sets the tone for how we go into motherhood. And no I don’t mean whether you went natural, used every drug you could get your hands on or had a Caesar or whatever. Those things don’t really matter. Regardless of how that baby gets in your arms, if you feel empowered in the decision making and supported by your people than I think that feeling follows you into motherhood.  You are born as a mother who is empowered and (I think) more likely to trust your instincts in all other decisions as well.
On the other hand if you don’t feel empowered by your birth experience, I think that can leave you doubting yourself as a mother in other areas as well.  So maybe the birth of each child is actually in a way the birth of a new mother as well.  Only three weeks in this time round and I’m already a different kind of mother.  And of course situation and experience affect this as well, but I do think the way I felt empowered by the birth has also helped me feel more confident in everything else as well.



So I’ve totally gone off track here, if you read the title you’d know I actually intended to write about the birth of the father. (Please forgive my 3 week postpartum brain).

When is a father born? Or if you prefer; how does a man become a father? (In the behavioural sense, not physiological because I’m pretty sure most 13 year olds can answer that one!)


I think in some ways it’s tougher for them.  They don’t have the experience of their body growing to change their daily life in preparation, they don’t have the same connection, the knowing, that comes with carrying a child within you. And they don’t have the experience of labour and birth to show them how strong they are in preparation for how strong one needs to be to be a parent.  And then once the baby is here they don’t have the boobs to be of much use for the first little while anyway!


In many ways I think the role of father is one more of conscious choice. Rather than being born (forced?) into it through the natural process of pregnancy and birth, it’s almost up to the father to decide what their role looks like.  Just like becoming a mother, the role of ‘father’ means a whole identity shift and is rarely spoken about (or maybe they do when they’re pretending to talk sport and weather, I don’t know). But it does seem to be a bit of silent struggle that often causes relationship problems in those early years of parenting and often gets fobbed off as ‘he was too wrapped up in his work’, ‘he isn’t interested in helping at home’, ‘he is too busy with spending time with his friends/ sport/ hobby’ which is a dangerous slippery slope into ‘we just don’t value the same things anymore’.  



Of course I’m sure some men are just natural fathers, in the same way some women are natural mothers.  But it doesn’t happen that way for all of us. (or many of us?!)  I think for a lot of men, becoming a father requires some soul searching and reevaluating what’s really important in their life.  I think for many men it seems easier to channel that feeling of wanting to help (but not knowing how) into work instead.  Which can feel a whole lot like they’re not helping at all when you’re up to your elbows in screaming children, and in your sleep deprived state taking it out of the person who was ‘absent’ all day may seem like a logical choice.



But I think maybe the father’s role gets overlooked a bit. That we just assume it’s easy for them because their lives go on (mostly) as they did before.  But we need to recognise that their ‘birth’ as a father might not be as fast and straightforward as ours, but it is still a (often difficult) transition that will be made, in time.  We just need to hold the space (and maybe our tongues) for it to happen.

3 Responses to “When is a father born?

  • I agree.
    And I think that involving the father in the birth, however that birth happens, helps too. I think if they are able to take some ownership at the very beginning, that sense of belonging continues.
    I wish that there was more paternity leave available as last time R only had a few hours and this time he had a month…what a difference that extra leave made!

  • I think I made the statement on FB about they become father when the choose to be one. Plus I also think they become a father when they are allowed to.

    • littleoldsouls@hotmail.com
      9 years ago

      Yes very true. I think sometimes as Mothers we take on too much and it stops them from stepping up.

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