No matter how many baby books you read, nurseries you decorate or informative five point lists you share; nothing prepares you for having a child. The best I can say is that it’s like dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, except the water never stops, and the temperature keeps changing.
New mothers I meet sometimes share their concerns about the fathers of their children. Will he be a good dad? Can a man be caring enough to establish a loving bond with their child? It does not matter if a father is blue collar, white collar, northeast, west or southern; all men are capable of that. If anything, this generation of fathers wants to be involved, but doesn’t know where to start in an environment geared towards moms. New dads can be hesitant, but that does not mean they don’t want to learn. Here are five ways for new moms to help new dads.
Don’t Crush Them With Lists–
When you have your first child, neither parent knows what to do. Moms focus that fear of the unknown into an unending pursuit of books, blogs, and Dr. Web MD. Dads hope to come across a parenting video that uses 80’s references and explosions as teaching points. Guys don’t have the same hulking expectations from society, so we get overwhelmed by a bottle-preparation list longer than most car owner’s manuals. Lists are fine, but discussions are better.
Champion Their Actions–
Every dad has to start somewhere. That might be rocking a baby to sleep or cleaning a fecal detonation out of an infant’s hair. Dads don’t deserve a medal for changing one diaper, but encourage their actions on the level they are at. Fatherhood requires consistent engagement, so when you see that, tell them you noticed.
Leave Them Alone With the Kids–
Staying home with your kids by yourself is like getting into a pool; painful and slow if you take it an inch at a time, but shocking and quick if you dive right in. Fathers need to know they can trust themselves and the only way to learn that is to take the plunge.
Give Them a Wink–
The last thing you are thinking about after having a baby is sex. We, on the other hand, have a big red mental-circle around the date six weeks from the birth. I realize that sounds insensitive, but it is a symptom of a greater fear that you will devote your entire attention to our children and put our relationship on hold. While we wait patiently with you, remember, a little flirt goes a long way.
Put Your Relationship First–
Having a child is like dropping a bomb on your relationship. No matter how prepared you are there is nothing like trembling through the first night home knowing that you are responsible. This wonderful child is helpless and you want to give them anything they could possibly need. If you put your kids first, they might be fine. If you put your relationship first, they absolutely will be.
New dads are not perfect and they never will be, neither will new moms. New fathers are entering parenthood with more resources and encouragement than ever before. Having a child demands limitless levels of patience, regardless of which parent it is. Working together to reach that goal sounds impossible to achieve, but you’ll be amazed at how a night of projectile vomit can bring two people together. Communication is the key, so talk and be ready to listen. You will see what an awesome dad they are going to be.
Originally published in DFW Child Magazine