I remember the day we found out we were going to have our first son. My wife walked into the living room with that positive pregnancy test, and I fell to my knees in tears of joy. My wife and I had dreamed of the day we would have a child to love and disciple. As we got further into pregnancy, I began to realize how unprepared I was to be a dad. So, my focus began to move to what all I needed to do to be prepared.
In my quest to seek that wisdom, I was given this piece of insight from a dad whom I have the utmost respect for. He said, “If God waited for the day that we were ready to be parents, then we would never become parents.” This brought me freedom, as I didn’t have to have it all together to become a father. This changed my search, and I began to focus less on parenting tips and focus more on becoming the man and husband I wanted to be. I trusted that God would mold me into the father He wanted me to be.
Below are six secrets revealed to me by men I have more respect for than I could ever begin to voice. Their words of wisdom were transformative in my life, and I hope and pray that they will be in your life as well.
1. Make sure you are spending time with Jesus.
This kind of seems like a “duh” statement. However, you will not lead your wife or your family to Jesus if you aren’t walking with Him personally. Take your fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams to Him and lay them at His feet. Sit in His Word and allow Him to comfort you. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and allow this process of childbirth and parenting to sanctify you to look more like Jesus. This is truly the best, and it will allow you to love your wife better.
2. Commit to prayer.
As I became a father, two of the biggest emotions that overcame me during the pregnancy were fear and worry. I was reminded of 1 Peter 5:7 by a friend and mentor. “Cast all your anxieties upon the Lord, because He cares for you.” This verse reminded me that I could go to the Lord in prayer right where I was and give Him my fears and worries. As I continued to go to the Lord in prayer, I was constantly reminded of my need to be dependent on Him, as well as my need for His provision and leadership! (This need for dependency will not go away as your child gets older; if anything you feel it even more.) Not only should you spend time in prayer on your own, you should also pray with your wife as well. Pray for your hearts, your marriage, and your child. This time in prayer will strengthen your marriage and both of you as parents.
3. Seek out other men to come alongside you.
YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE. Let me repeat. You cannot do this on your own. You need other men to come alongside you and walk with you. Our initial bent as men is to try and do it on our own because we don’t want to look weak. Seeking wisdom and saying that you don’t have it all figured out and that you need help is actually the greatest sign of strength, not weakness.
I encourage you to reach out to other dads you respect and want to emulate as you become a father. Ask them to meet for coffee or lunch. Bring questions that you have about becoming a dad for them to answer. Bring a journal and write down what they say.
I sent out an email to 15 men (I wanted all of the wisdom, but 3 will do just fine) asking if they would sit down and have lunch, breakfast, coffee, or whatever. I asked if I could pick their brains on what becoming a dad looked like. These guys were all over the spectrum in age and the ages of their kids. I then took a journal and wrote out all of their thoughts. There were a few that didn’t respond, but I ended up with is the wisdom of 12 men that are my heroes in fatherhood. The notes and encouragement I have in a journal have become a treasure to me. Those men are people who I can pick up the phone and call any day of the week to help me.
4. Set aside time to ask your wife how she is doing.
Be sure to make intentional time to sit with your wife, both pre-birth and postpartum, and ask her how she is doing. Give her space to speak and process. Recognize that you may not have the solution to all of the feelings or challenges she is facing, and that is okay! I am a fixer by nature and in those moments, my wife was not expecting me to fix anything; she just wanted me to be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. So I sat and I listened, and as I listened, I got a glimpse into her world. Your presence and the perspective you will gain will serve you far better than any advice you may have to offer.
5. Free your wife of expectations and serve her.
As pregnancy enters the later months, and you enter the postpartum time, your wife is going to be exhausted and rightfully so—she is carrying a human and then pushing it out of her body. This means many of the things she used to do, whether cooking dinner, keeping the house clean to her standard, or even being able to go be out with people, is just going to look different. Tell her you don’t have expectations for her. Then step in and fill the gaps that are there. Fill the roles that she normally fills. Serve her, love her, and let her know that it is your joy to do so. If that is not your attitude (and that will be the case some days), pray that God would humble you and that you would serve and love her as Christ loved the church.
6. Constantly encourage your wife and point her to truth.
This time of pregnancy and postpartum is going to be challenging for your wife. There is a chance that she may not feel the way she wants to feel, look the way she wants to look, or be able to do the things she wants to do. Affirm her as she shares her feelings with you. Remind her she is beautiful and lovely. Let her know that she is doing an amazing job in her role as wife and mom. Most importantly, remind her that your love for her is not based upon what she does. You love her because she is your wife. Continuously point her to the truth that she is loved by God and that He is pleased with her.
This journey of fatherhood is so sweet. It is probably the most sanctifying experience I have ever had, but I am loving every bit of it. These tips are just a starting point. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and remember that you are not alone in this journey!