It’s incredibly common to feel new dad anxiety. In fact, I wrote about my experience overcoming “Postpartum Disorientation” and stepping into parenthood feeling broken down and overwhelmed.
Let me tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But before we get to solutions for some of your new dad anxiety, to deal with reality, we must first see it clearly. So let’s address the most common fears about becoming a new dad:
- Anxiety about new roles and responsibilities
- Lack of sleep and long, draining nights
- Losing the freedom to spend your time as you wish
- Uncertainty about how you are going to bond with your kid
- Worrying about your parenting skills (or being judged by others)
- The fear of not being able to soothe your baby
- Feeling guilty about prioritizing or returning to work
- Pressure to be a good role model and make the right decisions
- Worrying about how your relationship with your partner will change
There’s a lot on the line when becoming a dad, and the rewards of parenthood seem far away and ambiguous. The hardest part is that you may…
Feel like you are about to lose the ability to be in charge of your own life.
And guess what?
Your ego is going to freak out.
Your smaller self is going to react.
Your immature self is going to rebel.
Growing Up Out of New Dad Anxiety
Ego contraction is the underlying source of so much new dad anxiety.
And the truth is it doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t have to follow outdated social stories of what it means to be a man or father. You can have plenty of freedom and choice and still be present and engaged at home with your family.
You need to learn to live from a larger perspective.
Having kids present the opportunity to step outside yourself and show up in a more relational way.
Not every dad rises to this challenge. Growing up is hard work. It requires consciousness. It requires cleaning up your bad habits and limited mindsets. It requires taking responsibility for your emotions and their impact on others
What lies underneath a lot of new dad anxiety is a fear of growing up and
Old ways of doing things won’t necessarily work.
You will need…
- Work-Life Integration
- Proper Nutrition That Mitigates Anxiety
- Open and Honest Communication With Your Partner
- Better Prioritization & Time Management
- Real Self-Care
- Flexible and Adaptable Mindsets
These are the facets of conscious parenting, and a lot of new dad anxiety is your ego pushing back at the idea that it might need a serious upgrade.
Why does this happen?
Your ego wants to keep doing what you’ve always done. It wants to keep living the way you’ve been living because it’s familiar, safe, and easy to control.
When you notice this contraction inside of you, remember that it’s normal to feel afraid, but really it is just your ego afraid of growing up.
Even if your ego is anxious about becoming a new dad, your heart knows what to do.
Embracing Your Vulnerability Softens Anxiety
The most important thing you can do if you’re dealing with anxiety about becoming a new dad is to embrace your vulnerability. Being something you’ve never been before makes you vulnerable to…
- Not meeting expectations
- Appearing weak or incapable
- Feeling inadequate
- Admitting you were wrong
All things most men (and humans in general) aren’t particularly fond of.
The irony is that when we accept vulnerability as a part of life, it doesn’t become less scary (it’s still difficult), but it becomes less bothersome. We don’t care as much. We don’t avoid it. We don’t run from it.
Deep down, you know you’re adequate and capable. You know how to be a good dad.
Even if you feel like you don’t, you can learn to become a good dad. And guess what? Most of it is on-the-job training.
It starts by admitting the truth: it’s ok to feel anxious, scared, and uneasy about the whole thing.
Unfortunately, men are conditioned to not admit their own vulnerability. We’re repeatedly told by implicit social messages that we should suck it up and figure it out on our own. Man-up. Be strong. Don’t admit to feeling anxious or afraid. It appears too weak and too soft.
Acknowledging and expressing your feelings, even of weakness, is actually a sign of strength and courage. From there, you can build new skills, take more responsibility, and develop new relationships that can support you through this transition.
When we embrace the parts of ourselves that don’t feel ready, (maybe will never feel ready), we can lean into the uncertainty of the whole thing. You might not know what you’re doing because as Brene Brown says, it’s your FFT — f***ing first time.
FFTs are beautiful precisely because they draw us back into the mystery of it all. To feel everything we need to feel and say what we need to say, we need to sacrifice what we thought was the only right way to parent and make the dreams we thought were unimaginable come true. This transforms fatherhood from a role to perfect or display dominance to an opportunity to build dreams that make your family stronger and more resilient together.
Practical Tips to Navigate New Dad Anxiety
Here are some actionable steps to help you navigate new dad anxiety and become a conscious father:
- Seek support from other dads: Reach out to other dads who have gone through similar experiences. Join local parenting groups, online forums, or social media communities where you can share your thoughts, ask questions, and learn from their experiences. Check out The At Home Dad Network or Wholehearted Dads.
- Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care. Yes, go to that birthing class at the hospital. It’s worth a day of your life. Understanding what to expect can alleviate anxiety and help you feel more prepared for the journey ahead. There are some great podcasts focused on fatherhood and parenting such as The Company of Dads (check out my interview), The Daily Dad, and The Dad Edge Podcast
- Practice self-care: It’s essential to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get enough sleep, eat well, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Exercise, meditate, or engage in hobbies that help you unwind and recharge. If you don’t know what those are for you, discover them. If you need some help figuring it out, let’s talk.
- Embrace imperfection: Remember that nobody is a perfect parent. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn along the way. As Laura Marham says, your kids don’t need a perfect parent. They need a kind, caring, and gracious human being. Allow yourself to grow and evolve as a dad, understanding that the journey is filled with ups and downs.
- Practice mindfulness and self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to help calm your mind and increase self-awareness. Being present and attentive to your child and partner will strengthen your bond and reduce anxiety.
- Seek help: Consider reaching out to a coach, therapist, or counselor. Their expertise can guide you if your anxiety becomes overwhelming or interferes with your daily life. There’s no shame in asking for support.
Remember, becoming a new dad is a transformative and beautiful journey. By taking proactive steps to address your anxiety, you can embrace the challenges and joys of fatherhood with confidence and resilience.
If you don’t want to go on this journey alone, set up a complimentary call to learn about coaching for new fathers. Schedule a call with me.