As if there are not enough pressures placed on families and relationships, we are now going to add to this with DIY paternity kits. Today, Boots, through 375 of their larger stores, is selling these kits over the counter. At prices of about £30 for the kit and a further £120 to get the results, they are not exactly cheap, and any quick search on the internet will find them available for as little as £99 including the results in 5 days.
But that’s not my point, my point is, why? Why do we need them? Why are we so determined to make it harder for parents?
Some may argue that unless there are doubts within a relationship in the first place, people aren’t going to buy one, so what harm will they do? They may actually solve doubts by proving paternity. Really? Do we really believe that if one person in a relationship wants a paternity test done, that it is not going to harm a relationship?
I am totally against these kits, mostly because I believe they are profiteering by building on men’s fears. As the UK’s leading specialist worker with expectant fathers, I know that at least 6 out of 10 men (yes, that many!) will have, for a fleeting moment, asked themselves if they are the real father. That’s over 360,000 men a year feeling that same doubt and fear.
Why do men have this fear? Simply, it is a normal subconscious self –doubt, a lack belief that they are really capable of having done something so tremendous as create a new life. This fear has no real foundation; it is not brought about by any real doubts about their partner’s fidelity. Indeed, if you asked these men if they think their partner had an affair, they would be insulted. By no means is this a logical fear – it is purely a subconscious one brought about by a sense of inadequacy and doubt about their ability to be a father.
Most of these 360,000 men will naturally come to terms with these doubts, although this may not be until after their child is born – there is a reason that Mother Nature made babies look more like their fathers in the first weeks! Once men have met their baby and start to bond, these fears and doubts do start to recede BUT they can still present for weeks and even months after the birth in a lot of cases.
Hence the dangers of these kits. They are playing on the doubts and fears of the average expectant or new father. How many dads already under pressure of becoming a father, dealing with sleep deprivation and the feeling of exclusion in his own home, will place massive additional stress and strain on the family by buying a kit? The damage this will do in so many cases is potentially huge, and I have no doubt will lead to even more breakdowns in family life than we currently see in the first year.
DaddyNatal is the only antenatal class that addresses and deals with men’s fears, including paternity fear. We support men to face their fears, understand them, deal with them and move forwards. In this way, DaddyNatal builds stronger families. Let’s support men to be better fathers, not exploit them for trying.
If any man would like help or advice on any fears he may be having as an expectant or new dad, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org