Information for young fathers

If you are the father you have the right to know your child and to participate in your child’s life. You have rights of custody and access. You also have responsibilities: the responsibility to financially and emotionally care for your child. You have a responsibility to be present in your child’s life and ensure that your child’s needs are met. You have the responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and well cared for and is free from harm. You have the responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interests of your child. As the father, you must accept that life will never be the same again and must get ready for the most challenging things that you might face along the way.

Becoming a father for the first time can be a very exciting experience. However, not feeling prepared for the responsibility of raising a child can be very stressful. First-time fathers and experienced fathers who discover that their female partner has become pregnant unexpectedly are often caught in a difficult position. Especially for young fathers or teens, there is potential for decisions to be made that are out of your control. It is very important to realize that it is not your female partner who has become pregnant alone. Although she may be the one who physically carries the developing baby, she will need much of your emotional support throughout the decision-making process. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion and values regarding the pregnancy, and these should be expressed to your partner in a caring, considerate way. Should your partner choose one of the three options (parenthood, adoption or abortion) available to her, that you feel is unfavorable to you, it’s important to carefully consider why this option may be best for her and that her decision was likely made after much consideration. Of course, it is important to discuss with your partner her reasoning and express your own thoughts on her decision, but ultimately she will likely need and desire your support. Also, be aware that if your partner chooses to raise the child and you do not, you are required by law to contribute financially to the child’s needs until he or she is an adult (18 years of age).

Here are some things that a guy should do in support of his partner:

  • Listen to her when she needs to talk.
  • Be patient – she’s uncomfortable, and tired.
  • Understand this is just as new to her as it is to you.
  • Make sure she gets what she needs - sleep, good food, foot rubs, and so on.
  • Take on additional responsibilities.
  • Take an active role.
  • Let her know your thoughts, ideas and opinions.
  • Let her know that you are there for her, and that you are just as much a part of this pregnancy as she is, even though she is carrying the actual baby.
  • Make it clear that you are in this together.
  • Accompany her to appointments, sonograms, pregnancy centres and prenatal care.
  • Protect her.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Affirm her for her courage.
  • Acknowledge her feelings and fears.
  • Empathize – try to understand her feelings.
  • Be sensitive to her physical/emotional condition.
  • Be a gentleman. If you don’t know how, read a book, or ask a man who has been married a long time.
  • Read pregnancy books along with your partner to learn and prepare as much as you can for the months and years ahead.
  • Plan Ahead: Start preparing for the financial needs of your child.

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This site is moderated by LifeLine Pietermaritzburg
It is supported by the Ford Foundation
You can contact LifeLine Pietermaritzburg on:
033-342-4447 (administration)
033-394-4444 (counselling)