Mark Thompson

Why I Feel Unworthy to Father My Child

(photo by Lewis H. Ellsworth, Wikimedia Commons)

Very shortly, I will be a father. The only problem is, I don’t think I’m up to it. My partner has made the jump, but I’m unsure how.


It’s three months to go. My partner and mom-to-be beams at me. I smile back. Last month it seemed far away, I could handle four months. But not three.

It’s not that I don’t want our kid. It’s a blessing, but I expected to feel different at this stage. Somewhere along the line, I expected I’d switch over into “Dad mode” and I’d know how to handle it. She’s already shifted into the maternal side of things. I feel the same person as I did before.

I’m unsure how to handle certain situations, which annoys me. The OB-GYN, The Midwife, The Birthing Plan, all of which brings on friction, because in three short months, these problems will be irrelevant. I don’t see the point in fighting.

Another thing that annoys me is as far as the process goes, I feel superfluous. I agree with the plans she’s decided on, as she should. It’s her birth. If I’m honest, she could probably do it without me. I am trusted to be the “gofer,” which means I chauffeur the objects I’m tasked to get in the wee-hours.

Which I have no problem doing. It gets me out of the house.

The change in environment at home has been difficult. There is no “us” anymore, it’s “we.” We’ve already cleared space for the third member who isn’t here yet. Selfish to say, but I miss the “us” conversations. Would it be unfair to ask for a return to that?

I’m not going to ask.

She’s changing, which in some ways is amazing, and others completely terrifying. I’ve never seen her so empathetic and so paranoid about the outside world.


“If I can barely take care of myself, how can I take care of another person?”


The issue grows larger by the fact that we’re the first couple in the group to take the plunge, so the attention is very much on us. I’m unable to share the glee that our friends do. Despite my best intentions, I find it hard get involved.

Which brings on feelings of guilt.

I’m doing everything that is asked of me, so what else do I do?

I’m paranoid about making the wrong decision, rocking the boat, so I end up doing nothing. I know my partner thinks I should be doing more, but what?

When she fell pregnant, I made a vow to her that I’d be a better father than my dad was to me, which was a good thing to strive for, but it’s more of a romantic ideal than anything else. I have no idea how to approach it. But I’ve made the promise. Which makes me feel wholly inadequate, which in turn dredges up the question I keep thinking about …

“If I can barely take care of myself, how can I take care of another person?”

My biggest fear is that I become a terrible father. Which I don’t know if I am, but some part of me knows that I’ve already started down that path.

I love my partner, but she seems very far away. I can’t speak to her, because I don’t know what’s exactly wrong. It would just degenerate into another one-way conversation.

I realize the one who needs to change is me.

The main reason why I’m writing this is to say it out loud and hopefully get it out of my system.

I’m stuck. For better or worse. All I can do is hold onto the idea that, one day, I’ll wake up and feel different, and I’ll know how to be who I’m expected to be.


Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson lives in regional NSW working by day in an accounting firm, and by night lives and breathes being a food and wine snob. He hopes to one day be a food critic or at the very least, meet Maggie Beer.

Related posts