Chances are, the dad-to-be in your life falls into one of these five categories. So take a break from obsessing about childcare and strollers to find the dad style that best describes your guy.
His Dad Style: His new responsibilities weigh heavily, and there's something almost primitive about his drive to make sure he can meet his family's need for food and shelter. He works late and worries about money (okay, these days, who doesn't, but still).
Early Warning Signs: You already have life insurance and a will. He seems to look forward to figuring out taxes each spring.
Pros: He's heavily researching the best 529 account to pay for college -- that is, if he hasn't already set one up.
Cons: You wish he'd spend more time in fun mode than in living deadline to deadline. He's famous for saying "Just give me five minutes," which means at least an hour. And when you come home with a new stroller (because the one you had was too heavy), he's likely to grill you on how much it cost and whether it was really necessary. Sigh... if he took the baby on more outings, he'd know.
What's the forecast? Your kids will grow up with a model of responsibility and solid finances. You may be able to kick in for their weddings.
His Dad Style: He's up on the superiority of the Bugaboo over lower-end brands. He wouldn't be caught dead toting your diaper bag or driving a minivan.
Early Warning Signs: When you were registering for your wedding, did he have strong opinions about flatware? Does he have nicer sunglasses than you do?
Pros: Most women complain that when they ask what color to paint the nursery, their husband's eyes glaze over. But this guy has opinions.
Cons: No sweats and T-shirts for you, honey! He may not care if you let yourself go, but he'll definitely notice. His desire to cling to his old lifestyle may show itself in weird ways. No aesthetically offensive Doodlebops allowed in his house, for example, but he'll load the iPod with the ultra-hip Dan Zanes.
What's the forecast? Expect your child to be a trendsetter -- she'll have the coolest trike on the block. And her dad will never dress her in a garish red jersey with purple sweats.
Mr. Type A
Mr. Type A
His Dad Style: He's thumbed through What to Expect and knows exactly when baby is due for a nap.
Early Warning Signs: Does he have a clear system for loading the dishwasher? Is he already researching preschools?
Pros: Your child will never get a sunburn on his watch.
Cons: He's a tad obsessive about sticking to schedules. He makes you leave your best friend's summer bash because it's Junior's bedtime. Your mom friends are thinking, Why's he so on it? (In a good or bad way, it depends.) You're thinking, Heck, we were all having fun!
What's the forecast? Expect him to have a big problem with pinatas (isn't cake enough sugar?). He'll put all of the kids' activities in his BlackBerry. No worries about who is on for the carpool! But if your mom style is more, how shall we say it... lax, well, keep reminding yourself that opposites attract.
The Fretful One
The Fretful One
His Dad Style: The baby's comfort and safety are always top of mind. She could be happily snoozing away, but he's convinced she's cold and needs another layer. He's certain that baby's belly button, healing nicely, must be infected.
Early Warning Signs: He actually follows along during the in-flight safety demonstration.
Pros: It's nice to know he's paying attention.
Cons: All that concern is cute, but if he's so worried, why doesn't he just go get the freaking sweater, instead of telling you?
What's the forecast? He won't be one of those dads who reads the paper at the playground. He'll watch your toddler like a hawk and keep an eye on other, less supervised, kids too.
His Dad Style: Loves you, loves the baby. But how can it be that the kid's a month old, and he still doesn't know which drawer the onesies are in? Sure, he's happy to help, but he requires such precise instruction that it's often not worth the trouble. You are always the one to call the pediatrician because you have the number memorized anyway. When you finally leave the baby alone with Dad (like all the books say to do), you come home to find her in the swing and him watching the game -- just like you left them two hours ago.
Early Warning Signs: If the dishwasher breaks, who calls the repair service? Do you send the birthday card to his grandmother (and does he even know)?
Pros: You get to make all of the decisions.
Cons: Making all of the decisions is exhausting. Some moms, when in a certain mood, might use the word "lazy" instead of clueless.
What's the forecast? He's trainable. And chances are good that he's going to grow into the job, most likely right around when T-ball starts. He may turn into Playmate Dad. While this has its downside (you feel like you have two kids, not one), there are many upsides. You'll never have to go to the fourth sequel of Kung Fu Panda. And picture this: you relaxing by the pool while he plays Marco Polo. Pretty sweet, right?
Originally published in the June issue of American Baby magazine.