"It was a stranger that had been planted into my house, now I had to look after the stranger, and the stranger was keeping me up all night.”
Kit Harington, dad to his 19-month-old son he shares with his wife — and former Game Of Thrones co-star Rose Leslie — spoke up about a familiar feeling in fatherhood that isn't talked about enough among new dads while on a press tour for his latest film about new parenthood, and his honesty is everything.
Kit recently spoke at PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's photo and video studio at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival to talk about his new film, Baby Ruby. And he spoke about how he channeled his real-life experience as a dad in his new role.
"I think there was real catharsis in this," the new dad said. "My baby boy was about four months or five months old when we filmed this, so I had just come out of the process that these two [characters] find themselves in of early parenthood, so I was literally exploring that in this movie. That was a big reason for wanting to do it."
Kit then spoke about his jump into fatherhood and candidly discussed a disconnect he felt with his infant son — and how it's different than how we talk about motherhood. "[Dads] are now becoming more involved in child raising, and as a modern father, there is a real feeling of being a bystander at times," he said.
For pregnant people, the transition into the new role of parenthood happens before the baby is born. They feel the baby's movements, their body and hormone levels change, and labor and birth occurs. So when the baby is placed into their arms, there is some familiarity there, and "love at first sight" is less of a jump for parents who carried their baby through pregnancy.
There is also, quite frankly, a chemical process that birthing parents and moms experience during pregnancy and when their infant is born — after birth, the birthing parent’s oxytocin levels surge during birth and pregnancy, and that chemical process facilitates bonding between baby and parent. Dads do bond with their babies during pregnancy, too — but those oxytocin levels really surge “once they spend time caring for their children.” In other words, it takes a little while. And Kit echoed that in the interview.
"You are not actively involved in the process of growing the child, and there can be a real feeling of not knowing what is going on, what emotions are happening, what the mother or your partner is going through," Kit explained.
"I knew I was going to care for the baby I had," he admitted, "but I don't know whether it was instant love." He added, "It was a stranger that had been planted into my house, now I had to look after the stranger, and the stranger was keeping me up all night," he said.
Kit’s honesty about the situation is, quite frankly, so needed — for birthing parents and non-birthing parents alike. Every parent is different, and bonds take time to grow. Feeling shame about that fact helps no one, and honesty helps dispel the feeling that you might be alone.
"It takes time to grow love, to get to know someone."
After a few weeks, things changed as he got to know his son, and some of the first few weeks of parenthood shock wore off.
"My boy's 19 months now, so he's tottering around just naming things, he goes around saying 'curtain' or 'carpet,' he just likes impressing you with his knowledge," he shared. "It's the most astonishing thing, it really is."