Being the rock and go-to guy is easy when it’s just you and the missus, but when it comes time to raise another human being — especially one you only just recently made — things get a lot more real. You could perfect your cool, calm, collected face with a few weeks of improv classes, but that wouldn’t really prepare you for fatherhood. (“Yes, I’m about to have a kid, and I’m terrified.”) You’d fare better with a dads-only parenting class, which is not only an actual thing but an increasingly popular one available nationwide.
How To Find A Class
Start by checking with local hospitals; many will have something for you. If that doesn’t work, a quick internet search will turn up organizations like Boot Camp For New Dads, which offer classes across the country.
Make sure you find out who the class serves first. Funny thing about dad classes: the dads who attend them are either there voluntarily to make sure they don’t mess up (You) or there by order of the court because they already have. (Not you. Hopefully.) This is an important distinction to make before you find yourself the only guy in the room without multiple neck tattoos.
What To Expect
Most of these classes are taught by grizzled veteran dads who impart their generous experience on you and the other trembling new recruits, often with the aid of a genuine, real-life baby! So at the very least you should know which end is up before you go. The goal of any dad class is to offer a baseline of standardized information and begin creating a like-minded, open community of fathers willing to listen and help each other out. If only there was a website with some sort of forum to share such fatherly advice … Someone should invent that.
Why You Should Consider It
Dad class is a safe space for asking questions and expressing anxieties you might be uncomfortable bringing up to your partner; most of them have strict “No Wife Allowed” policies. It’s also a great layer of defense against becoming a stereotypical, as-seen-on-TV, bumbling doofus dad, which you might (justifiably) fear far more than tantrums and diaper blowouts.
Finally, there’s research to suggest that parenting classes can be crucial in helping fathers develop good relationships with their children. Birth is seen as a critical window to get dads oriented to their new reality and develop patterns of pitching in and being active parents. In one study from the University of Auckland, families with fathers who attended a parenting class proved less likely to report behavior issues and displayed an increase in positive parenting practices.
So while you may already feel prepared, attending a dad class could have the ancillary benefits of your partner thinking you’re even more badass and your kid not being such an asshole. Might be worth signing up for that alone. At the very least, if your kid does turn out to be kind of a dick, no one can blame your lack of trying.