Thu Oct 20 23:23:55 SAST 2016

Preparing to be a first-time dad

By Karabo Ditshetlhe-Mtshayelo | Apr 19, 2016 | COMMENTS [ 2 ]

There are various articles and books about preparing to become a mother for the first time.

These range from knowing how to handle your body changes to tutorials on how to change a nappy.

But what about preparing fathers to become first-time dads?

Most people often underestimate the importance of one preparing to become a first-time father.

Yet the truth is, men are as equally anxious about how to handle the responsibilities of becoming a dad.

So what can a new father do to prepare themselves?

We spoke to Bongani ka Luvalo, the founder of the Cool Dads Foundation, an organisation that deals with everything concerning fathers. Luvalo, a first-time father himself, says that he started his organisation for personal reasons.

"I started the foundation because I grew up without a father and know [what] it is [like] growing up without a father figure," Luvalo says.

"Secondly, my observation is that the majority of social ills are caused by absent fathers in the lives of their children and, lastly, I believe every child deserves the love and attention of a father."

Luvalo is strongly against fathers abdicating their responsibilities.

"No one is ever ready to be a father, but for the mere fact that your actions were of a person knowing of the consequences of unprotected sex, you should own up to the end result of your actions.

"I think it's selfish of any man to say they (are) not ready and run away. The question a man should ask himself is how ready is the woman to carry the child; to deal with the complications that come with pregnancy, the morning sicknesses, the body changes, change of lifestyle and many other things. Don't we think it overwhelming for a women too?"

In helping men prepare for being first-time fathers, Luvalo says the most important thing after getting the news that you are expecting, is to evaluate your circumstances.

"Firstly, you must look at both your social and economic conditions. Ask yourself if they are conducive for your child to be born into."

Luvalo starts by emphasising the social factors one needs to consider.

Re-evaluate your friends and the company you keep

Are they family orientated? If they are not, peer pressure might make you think it's not important to spend time with your child or family.

Reduce your entertainment

"Men by nature have been raised to or exposed to being in the streets. When I was a boy, as early as 9am on a Saturday morning I was playing soccer. I would come back at lunch to eat and go back to the streets. So for most men, Saturday morning it's the car wash and beers with the boys and in the afternoon it's a soccer game. Literally we end up with no time for family. But, most importantly, the type of entertainment one chooses is also vital. Does it not take a lot of money, money that could have helped with an education policy, a bicycle, etc.

"I am not saying we must not entertain ourselves but it must not be to the detriment of your child."

Do you have the right shelter?

"The place where you live is important as a father to provide safe and warm shelter for your kids.

Are you financially stable?

"The basic care of a child is expensive and people take it for granted. I would say that a father requires a minimum of R2500 a month to take care of his child.

Here is an example of how that R2500 would be spent:

A box of nappies is R400; a big tub of milk is R380; daycare is R350; clothes R600, also bearing in mind that kids grow very fast.

Then there is baby food, soap, baby powder and that is excluding doctor visits.

Prepare for the birth, literally

"You need to commit yourself that you are both pregnant, it's not only her. In that way you will participate fully in the pregnancy journey.

"Start buying baby things as early as possible. It's easier if you buy them beforehand so you do not feel the financial brunt at the last minute when a bulk of baby clothes is needed.

"Find out from her when is she planning to take maternity leave. Will she be in a position to pay for her needs or where can you assist?"

Lastly, Luvalo says one must sit back and enjoy fatherhood.

"A father is every child's hero: a protector, a teacher. Someone who guides his child through the journey of life. That is a great title for one to have."


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