Defining relationships is never an easy task. If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, roles and responsibilities will need to be outlined and identified. Are you in a relationship and if so, is marriage a possibility? If marriage is not your style, could this relationship grow into a long term committed relationship where you’ll raise the baby together or are you possibly looking at single parenthood and co-parenting this baby?
If you choose marriage, make sure you are not rushing into anything for the wrong reasons. A marriage is not something to take lightly and will change the lives of many involved, including yours, your families, and most importantly your baby’s. Your commitment and responsibility is lifelong and not something to take lightly. What you need to determine is how to best honor that commitment. It may be in or out of a marriage or relationship, but you will always be the father. That part doesn’t change.
A lot of prospective father’s can feel overwhelmed when facing an unplanned pregnancy. That is not uncommon, and there are several resources, including counselors, therapists, groups, online forums and communities that all gravitate around just this scenario. Now more that ever, men can reach out, research, and communicate to find the support they need to make informed decisions about parenting and fatherhood.
Couples counseling is advisable. Everyone is raised with different perspectives and ideals for parenting. You’ll need to discuss the roles you’ll each play, religious and educational aspects that may be important to each of you and how you will incorporate that in raising your child. At some point you’ll probably want to let your parents and extended family know you’re expecting. Baby showers are a great way to prepare and celebrate even an unplanned pregnancy. You can even have some fun with it and make it a ‘Surprise’ baby shower, of course it’s hard to register for gifts if you make it a surprise, but the games could be entertaining.
Take inventory of your support. Usually family and friends will rally around to offer support and advice whether solicited or not. There may be some community groups or networks that offer parenting preparatory classes. Offer support to the mother, she may not have planned this anymore than you did, but you’re both here now. Offer support and encouragement through her pregnancy. She is going to be going through her own hormonal/pregnancy roller coaster and would probably appreciate any help or support offered.
If you’re not going to continue in the relationship, lay down some parameters for a healthy relationship outside. If you co-parent, maintaining respect and support for each other will ultimately be in the best interest of the child. This is where some good counseling or mediation can come into play. Laying out the groundwork now can go a long way in preparing for the successful parenting and happiness of this child long term.