I’m Scared to Hold a Baby

Written by Craig Denison
Published on June 13, 2016

Few things in life scare me as much as holding another person’s child. I know that sounds weird, but allow me the opportunity to unpack my emotions for a moment.

I think my fear stems from a few places. One, I flat out don’t know how to hold a baby. I feel like this little, precious bundle of joy could be robbed of its future in an instant because I’m not going to hold its neck properly. Two, what if it starts screaming at the top of its lungs and everyone stares at me like I’m the worst human ever and should never be allowed to be a father. Three, at any moment I could be covered with spit up, pee, or what parents affectionately refer to as a “blow-out,” and I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk, especially given the other two fears listed above.

So, imagine my surprise when six months ago my wife tosses me a pregnancy test, and I’m gripped with intense joy and legitimate fear all in one swirling pot of chaotic emotion. I now have no choice. I can’t be a father who doesn’t hold his own child, right? I mean, that’s frowned upon in general society, I think.

Exaggeration aside, becoming a parent is scary! Everything feels like new ground. Only I’m not just learning to fold clothes, keep a budget, or hold down a job like I did just a few years ago. This new person is depending on me. This next season sets the course for another human—a human I’m supposed to steward well. Whew. That’s a lot to swallow.

In the midst of it all I’m trying to learn all the practical skills. They have classes for this stuff, thank goodness. But what about all the stuff they don’t have classes for? What about those things that a class can’t teach me? What about those things I need to learn that will dramatically affect my son’s thoughts (if I don’t sprain his neck first)?

In my time with God the past few months he has been speaking one thing consistently: all I have to give my son at the end of the day is who I am. Beyond the finances, diaper changes, music lessons (hopefully), and bike-riding lessons, he will have just me with my success and failures, for better or for worse. What stresses me out will stress him out. How I respond to situations is how he will learn to respond to situations. My priorities will be his example for developing his own value system. He will either be able to walk in truth because I walked in truth or do the difficult work of learning to live differently than I did.

I want to become the person I hope my son will be. I want to live every day as abundantly and fully as possible. I want to cast aside those fears and concerns that really shouldn’t affect me. I want to learn to set boundaries so he doesn’t spend his whole life saying yes and regretting it. I want to love my wife the way he should love his wife. I want to love him and sacrifice myself for him the way I hope he will for his child some day.

Many parents have warned us about how it’s not about us anymore. And you know, thank God for that. The prospect of having a son is making me a better person. It’s giving me perspective. It’s giving me motivation to be who God always intended me to be because it’s not about me anymore.

What scares me more than holding my son is not being the man I would want my son to be. And thankfully my heavenly Father doesn’t leave me to what I can do on my own, but instead offers me a real, perfect example. As I seek to “train up [my] child in the way he should go,” my good Shepherd is leading and training me (Proverbs 22:6). As I seek to love my child unconditionally, Psalm 103:17 tells me, “the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.” And at the end of it all I know that my son has a Father who knows him, loves him and is a far better example than I could ever be.

So while I’m learning to hold my son, I find peace in the truth that I have a Father who fearlessly holds us both in the palm of his hand (Psalm 94:5).

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Craig Denison

Craig Denison, Director of Brand Strategy and Spiritual Formation at Denison Forum for Truth and Culture, oversees development of the various brands within the ministry. He is the author of First15, blogs regularly at craigandracheldenison.com, speaks, and leads worship with his wife Rachel as they seek to be a catalyst for spiritual awakening. He and Rachel are expecting their first child this summer.

Read more about Craig

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center