Supporting The New Father
Image this scene.
You are in labor. Things are getting hard and you are starting to feel a little overwhelmed and out of your element. This is your first time doing this! You had no idea it would be this hard. You tried to learn everything that you could to prepare but nothing could really prepare you for this real situation. Just as you are feeling this way, your birth partner or husband steps in. You have talked in class about positive communication and how you would like to be supported. Does he do this? No!
What does he say? "You are not doing this right! You are too tense. Hold your body like this! Move like this. Don't you know anything about having a baby? Didn't you pay attention in class?"
Oh my gosh! You are heartbroken. You were doing your best, and instead of being the support you need at this difficult time, you get bossed around and told about your failings.
Back to Reality
Of course I am sure none of you have husbands or partners that would talk to you like this in your hour of need. But- so often we do this as new mothers to the new dad. How often have you seen a new mother and father struggle with the new reality of a baby? Not all parents have ever really had experience with babies before.
Some dad's are totally comfortable in this situation, but others need some time to figure it out. Just as you need their support without judgment in labor, they need yours on their journey to fatherhood.
It Takes Time
Women often have more experience with children and babies than men do. It might be easier for mom to hold and comfort an infant at first. Sometimes dad is akward and uncomfortable. Some men feel a little self conscious being nurturing in public.
This is not a time to step in and tell him everything he is doing wrong. Will that build his feelings of power in a situation he may feel powerless in? Of course not. It will make a new dad feel like he is incapable of being a great father.
If you would not want him to say it to you, then don't say it to him. Give him the time to figure out how to nurture and hold a baby. By the way- the way that your baby loves to sleep on you, will probably be different than the way your baby likes to be held by dad.
Dad's have a special touch and relationship with their children all it's own. Let him figure that out without judgment and constant correction.
Take Time For Him
Now, if you happen to know me personally please know I realize I am not that good at being a wife and mother! I have to work on this stuff a lot! (Especially the wife and mother stuff...)
My husband has pointed out to me as of late that when my son comes home from school I talk to him, ask him how is day went, and basically show interest in his life and accomplishments.
Meanwhile, when my husband comes home I am too busy blogging to even look up! What is wrong with this picture?! Men need our attention too. Some will not ask for it like mine does, but they still need it.
If we take the time to go on dates with and pay attention to our husbands we will get better fathers.
If however, as soon as a baby comes we ignore him and have totally different priorities, he will notice. Men are not perfect and they do have egos. It is hard to not feel sadness and even resentment towards a child who has totally taken over mom's time. It makes it even harder if every time he tries to pick up and love on that child you tell him what he is doing wrong.
Those of us who have good husbands who want to be good fathers are so incredibly lucky! There are too many guys out there who either never want a family, or do not care for the one they have. Those men in our lives who try to be good and do good deserve our praise and love, even if they are not doing everything perfect.
Now- I am going to go practice what I preach!