Today's dads are pretty savvy when it comes to kid "handling and maintenance." Over the last two decades, fathers have gotten much more involved in caring for their children, mastering duties that once were strictly mom's territory.
Yet for some reason, when it comes to teaching men about fathering a new baby, we still feel the need to appeal to blatant male stereotypes. Over the last few years, books for new fathers have whetted men's appetites with titles like Ian Davis' My Boys Can Swim: The Official Guy's Guide to Pregnancy or Scott Mactavish's The New Dad's Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers. While the former is praised as a successful blend of humor and great information, the latter details new fatherhood like a military operation with "mission orders" and "critical survival tips." Mactavish refers to unhappy babies as "howling beasts" and compares a new mother's swollen breasts to "supersize toys."
It isn't that these books aren't packed with good information on pregnancy and new babies - they are. It's that some of them rely on base male humor and stereotypes to get guys to read them.
This year's small crop of new dad books is no exception. Quarterback Dad, by Bobby Mercer with Alison Schonwald, M.D. (Adams Media, 2008), is touted as "the first book to provide practical pregnancy and newborn advice using a language all men can understand - football talk." (Chapters include small tip segments titled "Fumble" and "Touchdown.")
There's also Caveman's Guide to Baby's First Year: Early Fatherhood for the Modern Hunter-Gatherer, by David Port, John Ralston and Brian Ralston, M.D. (Sterling, 2008). The follow-up to The Caveman's Pregnancy Companion (Sterling, 2006), this latest book relies on references to and comic drawings of a knuckle-dragging, clueless caveman to illustrate basic baby care.
If these takes on parenting get the new or expectant father to read, more power to them. But if you're looking for something less stilted, with more sophisticated support, try an earlier release, such as Hit the Ground Crawling, by Greg Bishop (Dads Adventure, 2005). Bishop is the founder of the now 18-year-old Boot Camp for New Dads, an acclaimed program offering workshops for new fathers in more than 40 states. His book offers straightforward information and tips just for dads. Another well-known fathering expert, Armin Brott, has a series of books out, including The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press, 1997), as well as a NAPPA award-winning DVD, Toolbox for New Dads.
- Deirdre Wilson