Some Thoughts On Fatherhood from a New Father

Niklas Larsson

About 30 minutes before I sat down to write this I was holding my newborn son. He’s currently going through some tough times with his digestion and the only thing that seems to make him quiet and content is being held and walking around while he works it out. Overhead, a storm is raging that keeps knocking out my power. The sky is so dark that it looks like nighttime, but luckily the thunder is a ways off and comes in as a soft rumble over the sound of already loud rain. My wife and I are tired, and she’s currently taking a break in our bedroom after two straight hours of trying and failing to comfort the boy.


It’s been raining on and off in Dallas for days, but this is the hardest it’s stormed yet. Weirdly, I’m grateful for it. I think it’s having an effect on both him and me. I’m standing next to the window looking out at the rain. He’s finally closing his eyes and relaxing and despite the fact that I know he’ll wake up in 10 to 15 minutes to fuss again I’m grateful for the small break.

I haven’t been able to write a word. My coffee has gone cold and undrunk. I’d love nothing more than a couple of hours more sleep.

I’m also the happiest I’ve been in a very long time.

Fatherhood doesn’t get the same praise as motherhood, and while I’m not about to complain and say it should, I can attest to its importance. I often find myself thinking about what it must be like to be a single parent. It has to be one of the hardest jobs a person will ever do. Luckily there are two of us who can tag team and figure the kid out. When one has had too much or has to do something, the other can tag in. We’ve only been at this a few weeks but I’m now more of an advocate for a two-parent household than I’ve ever been before.

Still, you get a crash course in fatherhood. You’re not eased into it. While mothers are often credited with taking care of the child’s needs and being the main character early in his story, daddy is like the stagehand. When something interrupts the show, daddy’s there to fix it.


Machine that helps baby in some way breaks down or glitches out? Daddy fix.

Environment not helpful to baby’s comfort? Daddy fix.

Supplies running low? Daddy fix.

Momma feeling overwhelmed and going through it? Daddy fix…or try to.

One thing is for sure. A father’s role in his baby’s life is more than important. Not only does he help the parenting machine run as smoothly as possible, but he’s integral to a baby’s personal growth both physically and mentally. According to research, infants recognize the father and have a different reaction to him than they do their mothers:

And a classic study from Boston Children’s Hospital found that infants anticipate different interaction from their fathers than their mothers. Using a split-screen video, researcher Michael Yogman demonstrated that, when infants were approached by their mothers, their heart and respiratory rates slowed, they relaxed their shoulders and even lowered their eyelids. When dads approached, the babies’ responses were significantly different: their respiratory rate and pulse quickened, they hunched their shoulders and their eyes widened and brightened. All of these studies illustrate the powerful effects of hands-on, involved fatherhood.

This is a rudimentary anticipation of sociability and learning. My son knows that when he’s with daddy, things are going to be a little bit more action-packed than when he’s with momma. There’s more of a natural edge to men and it comes out in how they address and act around their children.


Even our bodies respond differently to our babies. For instance, mothers experience oxytocin spikes after breastfeeding or affectionate contact. Dads, however, get oxytocin spikes from playing with their babies and stimulating their brains. Both introduce much-needed interaction for the kid. One side of the coin gives him nurturing comfort, the other gives him stimulating play that grows his ability to interact with his surroundings.

I’ve got all of this circulating in my brain and it helps my frustration and exhaustion. Knowing it is encouraging and helps me understand my role in all of this. While I’m not one to call myself an important person, I am important to him. It’s my job to be. To the boy, I’m an integral part of his life and development. It makes my decaffeinated, tired brain enthusiastic about sitting in the dark and watching a storm.

Honestly, I hope more men get to sit and watch a storm with their fussy infants. This isn’t easy and life as you know it won’t ever revert back to what you had before both in macro and micro ways (it took me over two hours to write this article because I kept having to attend to him) but there’s a strange peace in the chaos. My life is moving like it hasn’t before, and that movement brings its own comfort and fulfillment.

I’ve only been doing this for about a month but I’ve already learned some things about myself. Some are good things, but not all I’ve learned are things I like. I’m glad I see these flaws more clearly now. Fatherhood is motivating and I can now do what men do when they see a problem.


Daddy fix.



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