Robert Tano wanted to find out as much as possible about child-rearing before his first child was born. He found lots of helpful books, all right, but few described the father's role.
"A lot of them were written for women," said Dr. Tano, an emergency room physician at North Arundel Hospital. "There wasn't a lot written for dads, or it was very general."
Dr. Tano hopes to change all that.
The 36-year-old Columbia resident has written a book geared toward fathers, covering everything from diapering to how to hold an infant to choosing baby furniture.
His manuscript is sprinkled with humorous illustrations and Dr. Tano's own experiences with his 4-year-old son Michael.
"This is a get-down-dirty, this-is-what-you-need-to-know 'New Daddies' Survival Guide,' " said Dr. Tano, who hopes to publish the book, which he is still editing, sometime next year.
He is also completing another book, "The Medical Awareness Course," a layman's guide to medical triage. He has already secured a publisher and expects the book out next year.
Dr. Tano said he enjoyed writing the medical book, he had more fun with the infant care book.
"This was more of a teaching book," he said of "The Medical Awareness Course." The new dads' survival manual "is more of a fun book. This can be all or almost all humorous."
For example, Dr. Tano compares child-rearing to a game where fathers can earn points for hugs and the amount of time spent with the child. Penalties are earned for leaving children unattended or going to bed frustrated at the child.
Child safety is also addressed throughout the book. Dr. Tano describes children's attraction to danger as "Bambo-magnetic energy radiation: that inexplicable force which overwhelmingly attracts tiny bambinos to objects from which they have strictly forbidden," such as electric saws, ovens and fans.
The book is not a comprehensive text, but is meant to be read in a day or two. "I wanted something that got him on board quickly," he said. "It's very condensed."
Dr. Tano used a variety of sources to write "New Daddies' Survival Guide," including Parents Without Partners Inc., the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His notes are often scribbled on old bank ATM receipts and computer paper. He does most of his writing at a small home office.
In addition to the routine aspects of child care, Dr. Tano encourages fathers to spend quality, uninterrupted play time with their children.
"It's important to have quality time," Dr. Tano said. "It's equally important to have time that's uninterrupted."
The benefits are immeasurable, he said. Not only do the child and father share a closer relationship years later, but the child will have learned to give himself and his family members priority time when he's an adult.
Dr. Tano recalls his own father as a construction foreman who
worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, but still managed to spend time with his son.
"I remember him giving me my first watch and always instructing me about life."
Before men become fathers, Dr. Tano suggests they do a little reading on what to expect and how to approach child care. He also advises parents to delineate their child care duties before baby's arrival.
Mostly, he tells men they shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes.
"Don't give up because you're going to make errors. You're going to make errors. Learn from them and go on."