Thursday, August 09, 2007

Books for New Fathers

Less than one week remains before the move to Evanston. The house is about three-quarters packed. And I'm starting to pick up the professorial reins—a couple of students have emailed about the books for my classes, and I've also been charged with the pleasant task of welcoming John Kinsella to the Lake Forest campus for a reading on Tuesday, September 25—put that in your calendars now, Chicagoans.

In my spare moments I'm thinking about the baby and what it means for us and for me. And I've been utterly appalled by the level of the material out there that's directed at fathers and fathers-to-be. Every book and article I've found, almost without exception, assumes that men are clueless, incompetent, and not nearly as interested in pregnancy and babies as women. The title of one of the books out there says it all: The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion: A Survival Guide. That is, you're expected to embrace a self-image as a big, not too bright, but loyal lug for whom the pregnancy is a kind of mastodon stampede that you simply have to get through alive—as opposed to something you've actually chosen. It's infuriating. Oh, there are plenty of clinical books out there with the information you need about the stages of gestation, the birth itself, and a million things beyond your control that you can worry about—but what I can't seem to find is a book on the experience of new fatherhood that doesn't insult my intelligence.

This was bothering me even more in the early days when the pregnancy was still a secret, and so I had few people to confide in. That's when I needed good books most, and I couldn't find them. Do people have recommendations? Armin Brott's The Expectant Father is the best I've come up with, but it still doesn't quite speak to me as someone who's always expected to be an equal partner in child-rearing. What say you, dads and moms? What have you found useful?

No comments:

Popular Posts