How to get them to stop crying. How to change a diaper. How to burp them.
One of them asked if they need a bath every day. Is it age or weight that determines when a child can be placed in the front seat of a car? Should you use a special laundry detergent to wash their clothes and blankets?
Clearly, this was a special “Madness,” the kind that can strike men year-round - the Madness of “I'm about to become a father.”
And that's why these dozen men were gathered in a conference room at a Toledo area medical center for a two-hour class called Boot Camp for New Dads.
The classes, which began in Irvine, Calif., on Father's Day, 1990, now are presented at more than 250 locations in 42 states, and offered in the Army, Navy and Air Force. According to the Boot Camp for New Dads Web site, www.bootcampfornewdads.org, more than 150,000 men have graduation, making the program the nation's largest for new fathers.
“This is a class for regular guys,” explained Bob Middleton, a hospital lab employee and father of two who offered about two years ago to take over the class from the previous volunteer.
“I'm just a regular dad, and I get up and tell them, this is stuff that has happened to me, and I just share my experiences with them, talk about safety issues, relationship issues with their wives and their extended families, and preparing the home. It's laid-back, kind of like standing around the garage talking.”
Middleton got a crash course in fatherhood when he and his wife, Kathy, had two children in rapid succession. Jonathan, now 4, was just 11 months old when Brooke, 3, arrived.
Middleton tries to build a can-do attitude through education.
“I hope for the dads to take away something they didn't think of before,” he said, “and to help boost their confidence that they can be good dads.”
He shies away from medical issues, preferring to direct any of those questions to the wife's obstetrician or the baby's pediatrician. But he has a lot of practical suggestions, including: