The doctor races in. Monitors beep. Amid the dizzying whirl of the delivery room, a nurse hands you a blanket full of new responsibilities. Congratulations, you’re a father!
I have heard that a mother’s love develops as her baby grows in her womb, whereas a father doesn’t truly feel like a dad until he holds his newborn in his arms. But six months later, you may still be waiting for that loving feeling.
Though few men want to admit it, this lack of paternal emotion is common among new fathers. Many are left wondering if there’s something wrong with them. After all, their wives can’t stop talking about their newfound emotions, and older dads can’t stop gushing over how much fun they’re having. So, where does that leave the new dad who feels like he’s already failing in his role as a father?
Right where other dads started.
To better understand what’s going on, it’s important to recognize that men typically bond with others by doing things together. But when a father seeks to connect with his newborn, he discovers there are few activities he can enjoy with his child. Instead, he spends much of his time meeting his infant’s endless needs. This can leave men wishing the first year would just pass quickly. But instead of simply getting by during this brief season of life, consider another option — one that Jesus demonstrated best.
Jesus came to earth not for His own amusement and pleasure but to offer His life for us. Through His sacrifice, He showed what love is — and gave us a perfect example to follow.
So the secret to loving your child lies not in playing ball together or roughhousing in the living room; it comes from setting aside your personal desires to meet the needs of your child. With every diaper you change, cry you soothe and sleepless night you endure, you demonstrate love at its best. And though this early stage of fatherhood is not always easy, it’s something you don’t want to miss.
Before long, your tiny newborn will transform into a bright-eyed toddler. And when the fun of playing at the park, sneaking cookies together and turning couches into forts fills your day, take a moment to reflect on the past year. Because then you will realize that the patience, humility and selflessness you learned in the first year are what truly defines a father’s love.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2010 issue of Thriving
Family magazine. Copyright © 2010 by David Fox. Used by permission.
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