Father's First Christmas

Past Newsworthy Dads

(Tender) Arms and the Man

U.S. Army Specialist Dominic Fratangeli was in Baghdad when his first child was born. Home on a brief leave in Newtown, Pennsylvania, he tells of seeing his son, Dominic Jr., for the first time and the heroic attitude of his wife, Mary.


 

Father's First Christmas: New Dads Welcome Newborns

By Gerald Korson

For married men who become fathers for the first time, a baby is a life-changing experience that goes well beyond simply having another mouth to feed or tax deduction. New dads and their wives interviewed recently by Fathers for Good report that they have experienced growth in their personal happiness, their marriage relationship, their sense of purpose and their faith.

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“Having my first daughter has changed my entire outlook on my life and its purpose,” said Jason Seiler, who was in the delivery room when his wife, Galena, gave birth to Gabrielle on Aug. 11.

 

Jason and Galena Seiler with baby Gabrielle

“I have this beautiful little being who is entirely dependent on me now —  for food and clothing (her mom helps with this), and soon for her first image of what a male should be in this world,” he marveled. “My daily prayer is that God would make me the man my wife needs as a husband and my daughter needs as a father.”

Fatherhood “changes you as a person in general,” said Matthew Moore of Greenville, S.C., who with his wife, Alissa, welcomed little Jackson in August. “I think people are naturally selfish until they have that first kid. Now the child comes first, without hesitation. I think it makes you a better person, if you embrace it.”

Alissa has seen the change in Matthew as well. “You see your husband as a different person because you see the paternal instincts come out,” she observed. “He is more sensitive — not in a crying-at-chick-flicks-movie way, but there is a more sensitive side to him, like when he baby-talks to our son.”

Not Just for Young Guys Anymore

One trend that has taken place over the past generation: You don’t hear men say they’re “too old” to become a father as much anymore.

In recent years, the number of men in their 40s who become fathers has continually grown, according to a CBS News report earlier this year. In 1975, just 4% of first-born babies had a father in his 40s; that figure rose to 8% by 1990, 11% in 2000, and 14% by 2006. The average age of fathers at the time a child is born is now over 34.

“Becoming a dad later in life presents advantages and challenges,” according to Dr. Ken Canfield, director of the National Center for Fathering. “The advantages [are that] fathers who are older typically have more leisure time, more financial resources, and seem to be more thoughtful and proactive in their family commitment simply because they are settled in their careers.”

Older and Loving It

James Wagner of Corinth, Texas, is one such “older” first-time dad. He was 45 when he and his wife, Cassandra, had their first child in 2006, and they added a set of twins this past February.

 

James and Cassandra Wagner, daughter Zoe, and newborn twins

“The birth of my first daughter, Zoe, increased my capacity for love to unimaginable new highs,” Wagner said. “I saw my wife’s beauty in ways I had never seen or felt before. Although I got tired, I received more than enough energy from God, and all I had to do is ask for strength and be thankful. I had always considered myself spiritual, but I had now become faithful. I was no longer just a man or a husband, I was a father.”

Wagner found early on that being a dad wasn’t easy, but like most fathers he adjusted quickly.

“I remember being a bit overwhelmed in the beginning. Since I had prayed for so much of my life that I would be blessed with a child, the reality was difficult to grasp… it was rather surreal,” he said. “I suppose most fathers feel that way, since we do not experience first-hand the life within us.”

He recalls his amazement as he watched his wife’s belly grow and when he felt the baby’s first kick.

“When Zoe finally arrived I went from extreme concern for my wife to tremendous joy and elation!” he said. “This was a person. This was life. This was God sharing a precious gift and great moment grace with me. Everything was the same but different; it was the clarity.”

New Life – For Baby and Parents

Bearing and sharing a child often brings couples closer together as they see one another in a new role and begin to establish new patterns and traditions as a family.

Baby Isabelle, who came along on June 24, “has absolutely strengthened my marriage,” said her father, Anthony Procaccini, of Alexandria, Va., who co-founded a Facebook group for first-time fathers. “My wife and I both love our daughter more than life itself and have bonded over the shared experiences — baby’s first bath, baby’s first smile…. More than that, we’ve ‘teamed up’ in a lot of decision-making with both short- and long-term effects.”

 

Anthony and Laura Procaccini and daughter Isabelle

His wife, Laura, agrees. “It’s brought us closer,” she said. “We’ve improved our communication. I think that we recognize the importance of a healthy marriage on a child — even a 4-month-old! We are more inclined to work things out and to give our child the most loving home we can.”

Having a baby is not a matter to be taken lightly, of course, as it brings with it many duties, worries and disruptions that at times can seem burdensome. Nevertheless, the new dads and moms we interviewed were of one opinion on that issue: It’s all worth it.

“This has been a wonderful transition in our family,” said Galena Seiler, Jason’s wife.

“The lack of sleep and crying baby, at times, has strained things here and there,” admitted Anthony Procaccini. “But after going through the entire process, I don’t believe anyone could say that the birth of a child is not an absolute miracle and gift!”

Gerald Korson, an editor and journalist with more than 24 years' experience, is the editor of The Wonders of Lourdes (Magnificat, 2008) and a contributing writer to Amazing Grace for Fathers (Ascension Press, 2006). He and his wife, Christina, are raising their 11 children in Fort Wayne, Ind.