The Paternal Instinct

 

I’d like to ask the dads here: when did you first think it might be great, or kinda cool, or even possible for you to become a dad someday?

I have a 20-something son and have known my daughter’s 20-something boyfriend for years now, and both are wonderful guys.  My daughter and her female friends make no bones about fussing delightedly over babies brought to work or babysitting for their nieces and nephews. It’s probably very normal that these guys keep their arms safely locked behind their backs when a baby is in the room, and conveniently have important meetings to get to when there is babysitting to be done.  

So, I just wondered: was there a moment where the switch flipped in your brain or was there a gradual acceptance of the inevitable as your buddies became dads? What happened, and when, to remove the tilt-shift lens from your vision and let you see the panorama of life as a future parent? 

 

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  1. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    I am a man. I was told there would be no thinking involved. Does this have to do with taking out the trash?

    • #1
  2. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Around age 7. That is, when my first child hit age 7.

    • #2
  3. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Ah. Spoken like true men.

    :)

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I’ve always thought being a Dad would be cool, but I never cared much for other people’s kids. (Still don’t, actually.) I didn’t marry until mid-30s (early 30s for my wife), so we knew that if kids were going to be in the picture, we didn’t have the luxury of holding off. So kids came early into marriage.

    I think the fatherly instincts kicked in before offspring #1 was even born. I love being a dad. Of all the roles I have to play, “dad” is my favorite. It’s so far ahead of everything else that I do. I already know that I’m going to fall to pieces on their wedding days. I’m already worried about the severe depression I’m going to feel when they inevitably move out.

    I doubt anyone would have guessed that about me. I had a practiced aloofness regarding children. If you’re thinking about whether your son and potential son-in-law would make good fathers, it’s likely that you just won’t know until it happens.

    Barring any obvious sociopathy, of course! ; )

    • #4
  5. Salamandyr Inactive
    Salamandyr
    @Salamandyr

    I don’t know when I first decided I wanted children.  I think I’ve always assumed I would have them, and I married so late that there wasn’t really any point that I can point to and say “There.  There is the point at which I wholeheartedly embraced fatherhood!”.  I’ve always been resolved to be a better father than my own father.  As far as paternal instincts go, I love my daughter, and love being her father, but I don’t have a strong yearning for more children.   I’m not opposed to it, mind, just indifferent.

    • #5
  6. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    May 3, 1997. I was almost 32 years old, and my wife and I had deferred the question of parenthood for as long as we knew each other. We had never ruled it out, but we had so many other things we wanted to do that we always figured it was something we could consider later.

    But once we were in our thirties, I’d come to realize that time was running out and that we had to make a decision. So out of the blue, one night I asked her over dinner whether we were going to have a baby. We started talking about it, and pretty soon we both found ourselves getting excited about the idea. For a while we pretended that we were still undecided, but once we’d started talking about it, I think it was inevitable.

    I can’t fully account for how I arrived at that point, but in retrospect it seems pretty clear to me that something must have been percolating in my subconscious for some time. It was a pent-up desire to fill a void in my life that I hadn’t previously been aware of.

    (This is a process I’ve given a lot of thought to. In fact, I wrote a book about it. Originally just for family and friends, but people told me I should put it on Amazon, so I did.)

    • #6
  7. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    I thought fatherhood always began with, “She made me do it.”

    Or as Groucho Marx put it: “For weeks before my son was born / I used to scream from night til morn / “Whatever it is, I’m against it!” / And I’ve kept yelling since I first commenced it / I’m against it!”

    Or as my little sister said as she was planning her wedding, “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll spend all of your money.”

    • #7
  8. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Oh, I have always wanted to be a Dad.  :)  Perhaps a bit a-typical for a man, but I’m a fairly a-typical man in a lot of respects.  My wife and I waited until we were 30 (we got married at 23) for our first kid, but that was because we wanted a bit more financial (etc…) stability before taking on that responsibility.  I’ve always been the guy that loves being around kids, and they always seem to like me, too.  Probably because I we think on the same wavelength.  That said, I’m kind of the opposite of your stereotype.  When there’s a baby/kid in the room, I always pick him up, play with him, etc… and the women think it is very funny. Don’t worry – I still love baseball and beer and sports and other super manly things!

    • #8
  9. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    To speak for Papa Toad: He always thought the idea of being a dad was attractive. Possibly because his own dad is such a great guy and all-around mensch. 

    Meeting me, he decided that lots of children would be even better. We’d like more (we have six, ages 5-17), but a number of health issues make them recedingly unlikely.

    We got married in our twenties, and our oldest was born less than a year after our marriage. It has been three years since we carried a diaper bag, but in ten more years, our oldest will be older than we were when he was born… How we pray for grandbabies someday!

    • #9
  10. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    BXO Jr.:  Your book looks wonderful – I took a peek – ‘each year was exactly like the previous year’ – yes, you’ll never say that after a baby.

    • #10
  11. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    I echo DrewInWI that the fatherhood instincts kick in with the birth of offspring #1.  I had always planned — “some day” — to have children.  But it was more a nebulous thought than a concrete plan.  Like too many lately I married later (early 30s) and my wife and I enjoyed married life without children for 5 years before our first was born.  In retrospect, I say loudly that it was all a mistake. 

    I wish I had met my wife earlier and married sooner.  I wish that we had started our family almost immediately.  Having children made me a better person and helped me to enjoy life more.  I was a work-aholic before (still am somewhat), but since children came I have forced myself to “smell the roses” too.  Life is better with them than before.

    • #11
  12. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    A friend recently found out he’s about to be a father, and he told me, “I’m looking forward to being able to forget about myself.” That seems reasonable to me. What do you dads think? Does becoming a dad help you to become a less selfish person?

    • #12
  13. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    No Caesar:

    Having children made me a better person and helped me to enjoy life more. I was a work-aholic before (still am somewhat), but since children came I have forced myself to “smell the roses” too. Life is better with them than before.

    I can relate to this. Having children lets me re-experience the world through the eyes of kids. It’s the best way to enjoy a “second childhood.” It’s also a good way to stave off old age. I’m nearing 50 with an 8 year old and a 10 year old, and I still feel like a big kid.

    • #13
  14. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Aaron Miller:A friend recently found out he’s about to be a father, and he told me, “I’m looking forward to being able to forget about myself.” That seems reasonable to me. What do you dads think? Does becoming a dad help you to become a less selfish person?

    Helps you by forcing you to become a less selfish person.

    Although I suppose some resist that.

    I have overactive guilt glands, so that even when I’m incredibly busy, if one of the kids comes up to me while I’m slaving away at my desk and says “Can you read to us tonight?” and bats her eyes, I drop everything so that I can be “good dad.”

    There’s probably some pathology at work there. But it does force me to step out of the “work” box.

    • #14
  15. user_1700 Coolidge
    user_1700
    @Rapporteur

    I can’t recall exactly when the “dad bug” bit, but I can relate some of the heartache when those expectations aren’t fulfilled. My ex and I went through quite a bit of treatment (and money) for infertility, with nothing to show for it. My current wife and her ex experienced the same – even had triplets born at 20 weeks who died shortly after birth. The infertility experience probably was the factor that broke up both our first marriages.

    Then we met, and within a year, we had a daughter (now 13), with no help whatsoever.

    Nature’s funny sometimes…

    • #15
  16. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    Total squirrel moment (which I will blame on my cold medication) but is the attached photo from My Three Sons?

    • #16
  17. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Since that rascal 10 cents has commented here, I feel perfectly free to be silly and ask: Anyone around here remember which pair of those shoes belonged to Robbie, Chip, and Ernie? :)

    • #17
  18. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    I don’t ever remember not looking forward to fatherhood.  In my 20’s I  wanted a baby much more than I did a wife.  Now that my baby is 27 and soon to be married, I find I am just as excited about being a grandfather.  I guess I just always loved babies and children, far more than I ever did adults.

    • #18
  19. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Heart of America: yep – I considered a photo from Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie & Harriet, but then that saxophone theme started in my head. And those funky little cartoon feet started tapping like a gif from the past.

    • #19
  20. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Married at 19, father at 21, grandfather at 51. would not have missed a moment, never assumed any other possibility. Looking back, such simplicity is a comfort.

    • #20
  21. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    Pencilvania:Heart of America: yep – I considered a photo from Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie & Harriet, but then that saxophone theme started in my head. And those funky little cartoon feet started tapping like a gif from the past.

     Thanks…glad to know that my 60’s sitcom radar is still going strong. Sadly, I may not remember my own name one day but probably would have the ability to name every 60’s TV show theme song without skipping a beat.

    • #21
  22. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    I have a sister who is 14 years younger than me.  Once, when playing with her, my other sister (almost my age) said to me:  “You know, you’d make a great dad.  I can just see you surrounded by daughters.”

    I’ve got 4 daughters now.  When I told her that #4 was a girl, she said “Oops.  I mean, I’m sorry.  Wait, that’s not what I mean.  I just didn’t think, all those years ago…  Did I jinx you?  Er… Not what I meant either.  Dang…”

    • #22
  23. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    For as long as I can remember I knew that my vocation was marriage and fatherhood (although until I became Catholic I didn’t know it was a vocation). My father taught me the vocation through the living of his life. I pray I have done the same, and can continue to do the same, for my four children (2 sons, 2 daughters). My vocation takes on a new responsibility with grandchild #1 due in June.

    • #23
  24. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    My wife and were both 22 years old when we got married. We both wanted children. When our son was born some of our friends said you are going to miss your “freedom.” We soon discovered that we weren’t missing out anything. Our son and his wife are expecting their second child. The funny thing is my wife and I are just as excited as they are about baby number 2. Our daughter is engaged and just resigned her position as a police officer because she and her future husband, also a police officer plan on starting a family as soon as they are married. She resigned because of the risks involved with both parents on the road as police officers.

    • #24
  25. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Such sweet stories – thank you so much, everyone!

    Tolstoy was wrong – happy families are happy in their own way too!

    • #25
  26. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Ever since I was a boy, I knew I should be a dad. It doesn’t look like it was meant to be at this point.

    • #26
  27. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    C. U. Douglas:Ever since I was a boy, I knew I should be a dad. It doesn’t look like it was meant to be at this point.

     Come on … if there’s still hope for me, there’s still hope for you.  Though I understand the feeling.

    • #27
  28. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Have to go pick up my 1 year old daughter; will comment later. :)

    • #28
  29. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    I have wanted children for as long as I could remember.  I am crazy about being a father. I have 7, and get so much nachus from them every day.

    • #29
  30. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    iWc:

    I have wanted children for as long as I could remember. I am crazy about being a father. I have 7, and get so much nachus from them every day.

     7!  Wonderful!  I’d love to have more myself, but there are some extenuating circumstances.  Some friends from college have 8, and they are such a wonderful crew together.  You are well blessed.

    • #30

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