Welcome To Fatherhood has grown from a simple 2-hour workshop to a best-selling book to now encompassing a full range of Coaching options for men crossing the threshold into Fatherhood. Designed to support today’s Modern Man who wants to be a true partner and teammate in the pregnancy to parenthood journey, Welcome To Fatherhood goes well beyond the trite advice to just “be helpful and supportive” and instead focuses on offering clear and specific suggestions and helpful guidance for better connecting to Mama on her journey and getting better prepared for what’s coming up next on each stage of the journey. The most exciting part of this work is helping new and expectant Dads take more ownership in mapping out their paths to truly thriving with Dad Zone Coaching.
Dad of 2 and author/owner of Welcome To Fatherhood, David Arrell learned the hard way during he and his wife’s first pregnancy that there really weren’t a lot of helpful resources out there for guys like him who wanted to be a great teammate to their pregnant partner, and a great Dad once Baby arrived. So much of the “help” available was either coming from an unnecessarily dry medical and/or scientific perspective, or else fell under the vague and generally unhelpful category of “just be helpful and supportive.”
Like so many of today’s Men, at times David struggled in his efforts to consistently “show up” for his wife during their pregnancy, and even more so after their Baby was born. Through lots of research, conversations with other new Dads (and Moms too!), and plenty of plain ol’ trial & error, David was able to collect and organize so much helpful information. He then built out the first Welcome To Fatherhood workshop to assist other new & expectant Dads in having a much smoother journey into Fatherhood.
During the pregnancy of their 2nd child, David was able to implement and refine his workshop material to deepen the focus on balancing the challenges of staying rooted to his own identity while also deepening and enriching his relationships with his wife and children. The Welcome To Fatherhood book was born out of these experiences. Most recently, the challenges of Covid brought forth the full series of Coaching options for new and expectant Dads who appreciate more direct connection and support.
Challenges facing Men entering Fatherhood Today
For today’s Modern Men the challenges are complex and dynamic. Most of the them are coming from the socio-cultural space, which makes them both invisible and pervasive. We’ll briefly explore 3 of these biggest challenges here below.
1) What does “Healthy Masculinity” look like in today’s world? While the modern ideal of healthy masculinity is still taking shape, the older ideals have been thankfully pushed aside. No longer is Dad expected to simply be a heedless passenger in the pregnancy, briefly show up at the hospital to hand out cigars in the waiting room while Baby is born, and then head back off to work the next day. Today’s Dads want to be helpful teammates throughout the pregnancy, be present and connected to Mama during childbirth, and be physically and emotionally supportive to both Baby and Mama as they celebrate their new family dynamic.
2) Gone is the “Village” of yesteryear where Women were surrounded and supported by other knowledgeable and experienced Women and Moms all throughout the pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods. Today’s pregnant women often go through this journey isolated from many friends and family, and with much less support overall. These societal changes put more of the focus their partners who often don’t know anything at all about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. The emphasis on the “nuclear family” dynamic ultimately makes things harder for Mom, Dad, and Baby too.
3) The lack of attention and focus on Men by the larger “Birth Space” culture leaves many guys having their experiences devalued and even their unique existence overlooked. Guys who go to prenatal appointments, birth classes, and other pregnancy support spaces are often just generically referred to as “Dad” and are questioned and evaluated purely in terms of how they are “showing up” for Mama in “helpful and supportive ways.” This objectification of the individual guy as only relevant in the role of Dad and “support person,” and measured according to invisible standards, is not only unfair but also disempowering and damaging.
The Welcome To Fatherhood range of options attempts to meet each of these challenges head on. We recognize that today’s Modern Men want to embody healthy masculinity and are looking for better guidance on how to do so. We try to meet them on their journey into Fatherhood where this question becomes most pertinent and provide them with specific tricks, tools, and techniques to help them not just “show up,” but really shine in their role as partner and parent.
Opportunities for Men to shine in the Birth Space are opening up!
Thankfully, many of the old and outdated social and cultural norms and expectations continue to slowly but steadily fall by the wayside. They are in turn being replaced by much healthier and functional patterns such as Fathers being able to actively participate in childbirth, Dad-oriented diaper bags and baby carriers, and even more generous paternity leave policies in the workplace. The entire culture is slowly shifting to recognize the importance of having Dad as involved as possible from early pregnancy through childbirth and postpartum.
Other areas where new and expectant Dads continue to get improved, direct, and relevant support is from other Men who have come before them. It is increasingly common to find New Dad support groups, Playground Meet-ups, and even Childbirth prep classes oriented to Men. For Men who prefer podcasts, Baby Talk with Katie & David is another great place to get great Dad perspective on things. This Dad-to-Dad connection is where things have the most potential to continue evolving and growing – Men helping other Men show up as fully human with emotional messiness, open vulnerability, and earnest engagement.
Advice to Men anywhere in the Pregnancy to Parenthood journey, and especially for new Dads
Becoming a Father is a truly transformative journey. Just like for so many of our ancestors around the world, it is still an important rite of passage and is happily moving back up in prominence in our contemporary culture. Like all transformative journeys, it is full of twists, turns, and unexpected difficulties. However, like in all the great stories, there will appear new helpers and unexpected allies at important moments of the tale. While Welcome To Fatherhood can be a helpful guide along this journey, you’ll still need the aid of others.
One area to look for this aid is in the community around you. As it says on the book, “build your village” of support along the way. These “villagers” may be close friends and family members, but they may be co-workers who also recently became Fathers, fellow birth class attendees, or even the husbands and partners of new pregnant friends of Mama. Regardless of origin, be intentional about cultivating these relationships as adventure partners also on the Fatherhood path. They may need your help and support too!
Another area is to lean into professional support for each stage of the journey. Doulas are awesome birth prep specialists and in person support for childbirth itself. Lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, and various new parent support groups can be invaluable for consultations, and for community and connection too.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to the Men around you – both to ask for help as needed and to offer it as available. Many Men are in the process of healing past trauma around emotional expression, connection, and honest dialogue. You never know who will feel genuinely appreciate a shoulder to lean on or an ear to bend. Simply being seen and heard in all the realness and rawness of new parenthood has its own healing power. Ask for some space and grace when you need it, and extend to others in kind. At the end of the day, Healthy Masculinity comes down to being grounded, and being present, and holding space for both ourselves and others to be vulnerable.