Help, I'm a Teen Dad! Becoming a Father at 17

baby Apr 30, 2020
Help, I'm a Teen Dad! Becoming a Father at 17

The teenage years are a rollercoaster of highs and lows, filled with new experiences and challenges. Now imagine adding a baby into the mix — no doubt it feels as if your world is suddenly turned upside down and inside out.

Those teenage highs and lows become even more intense if you’re becoming a father at 16 or 17. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, scared, and unsure of what to do next.

Don’t worry, though. Dad University is here to help you prepare yourself to be a great father to your child. Today, we bring you some key tips and advice on how to navigate your new role as a teen dad.

First Things First: Clear the Uncertainties

Becoming a father at 17 can bring a lot of uncertainties into your life. So, try to clear up two things to reduce some of the worries and uncertainties that come with your new role in life.

First, before you stress over the what-ifs and how-tos, make sure there’s no doubt that you are the father. If you aren’t 100% sure, consider getting a DNA test done just in case. A DNA test can give you peace of mind and may even help strengthen your bond with your unborn child.

Second, make sure you have an in-depth discussion with the mother of your child about what’s going to happen. Both of you need to be on the same page regarding not only moving forward with the pregnancy but also how you plan to tackle life after your child is born.

Once all that’s out of the way, you can better focus on preparing yourself and heeding all our teen dad advice below.

Be There for Both Child and Mom

Showing up and being present is a crucial part of being a responsible teen dad. You need to be an active participant in your child’s life.

As a teen dad, you may be tempted to leave everything to your child’s mom but that’s not how it should work. Moms shouldn’t have to pick up the slack and take on all child-rearing responsibilities.

Parenthood is a shared journey. Your child needs you in their life as much as they need their mom. You have the power (and the responsibility) to shape who they become in the future.

And remember, your involvement begins not after the child is born, but from the moment you know you’re going to be a dad. You also need to be there for the mother of your child during her pregnancy. Be her pillar of support throughout the nine months, the delivery, and her postpartum recovery.

Get Along With Your Baby’s Mom

Our next piece of advice is to make sure you get along with your child’s mom. Ideally, it’s best to be in a positive, loving relationship with them. However, if that’s not the case, then be sure to at least retain a good, civil relationship between you two.

Communicate openly and honestly, listen to her concerns and needs, and be willing to meet halfway on things the two of you may not fully agree on. More importantly, support her through the ups and downs of her pregnancy.

It’s important to have a healthy co-parenting relationship for the sake of your child. Maintaining a positive relationship with your child’s mom also gives you greater assurance that you’ll continue to have access to your child.

Be Empathetic Towards Your Baby’s Mom

The best way to get along with your baby’s mama is to practice empathy. Try putting yourself in her shoes for a moment.

It’s no secret that becoming a teen parent can be incredibly overwhelming and emotionally taxing, but when you’re the one actually carrying a new life in your body, all those stress and emotions go up several notches.

So, be empathetic towards her struggles, fears, and needs. More importantly, do not dismiss her worries or insecurities. When your child’s mom is feeling tired, irritable, or stressed out, try to understand and show her compassion.

Try to see things from the mom’s perspective and remember that she is the one dealing with morning sickness, seeing her body change drastically, and giving birth.

Use Being a Teen Dad as Motivation

It’s easy to feel as if your life is over when you become a teen dad. No one plans on becoming a father at 16 or 17, but it’s at times like these that it’s most important to choose to stay positive. While you may not have full control over what happens in life, you do have control over how circumstances affect you and how you respond to everything.

So, instead of wallowing in negativity, choose to use your situation as added motivation. Let it drive you forward and towards bigger, better things in life. Use your newfound fatherhood role as inspiration to try harder and to look for better opportunities in life — let it push you to be a better version of yourself, not just for your child but also for your own future.

Stop Wasting Time

Becoming a father at such a young age forces you to grow up quickly. You no longer have the luxury of wasting time on things that don’t matter or won’t benefit you or your child.

Use this newfound responsibility to take charge of your life. Change for the better now — rather than some nebulous point in your future as an adult. You can no longer afford to sit pretty and hope for the best.

We’re not saying to completely forget about relaxing or having a good time. However, you will need to cut down significantly on partying and a lot of regular teenage stuff.

Always remember that it is your duty as your child’s father to provide for them, and it’s hard to do all that if you don’t have a good education, job, or even a home.

Have a Good Support Network

Never underestimate the value of having a good support network. You need to surround yourself with positive and supportive people — people you can turn to for advice and help. Fatherhood isn’t an easy road, and while it’s definitely worth it, you also need all the help you can get.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, scared, and unsure — most first-time fathers do, regardless of their age. With the right advice and support, you can navigate your newfound fatherhood and come out the other side as an awesome father.

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