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April 13, 2018
I know some amazing dads. My husband is one of them. He cares so much about teaching my kids about their worlds. He’s great at getting them excited about cooking and sports and gardening. He gets an A+ in my book (most days).
But the day my daughter came home, when he first earned his dad badge, he said he felt unprepared. Sure, we’d both been present at our birthing class and learned how to swaddle together. Looking back, though, he said he felt like he didn’t know what to expect when it came to normal baby behavior and definitely didn’t feel ready to take the lead on newborn care. I’m sure it didn’t help that his wife was a pediatrician. Still, the more dads I meet, the more I find so many feel the same way.
I feel kind of bad for modern-day dads like the one who lives in my house. I mean, not as bad as I feel for modern-day moms. But I do feel bad. It seems like, when we empowered women to be just as fierce in the workplace as at home, forever changing modern-day motherhood, we forgot about educating men on how to change their perspective on modern-day fatherhood. We figured they would just adjust without any effort or preparation, magically skilled and knowledgeable in all things baby. Add in the Mr. Mom monickers and the media depictions of helpless new dads fumbling through parenting — it’s a not a surprise a lot of dads I see aren’t sure exactly where they fit into the new parenting paradigm.
How do we include new dads in the early baby care process? How do we, as mothers-to-be, encourage and empower them to be equal players as we parent our young children? I say, start here:
How does someone become an expert in any field? They study. If, as a mom, you are the only one in your family studying up on babies before or after your infant arrives, you’re going to be the only one who knows anything. And, that means, you’ll be the only one who feels confident enough to take charge.
Everyone learns in different ways. If you learn best by reading, your partner may learn best by attending a class. Or, he may learn best by talking with other dads who have been through the newborn dog days. It probably won’t work to force your partner to learn the exact same way you do, but it will work to expect that both of you have a working knowledge of common baby issues, newborn care basics and proven calming techniques so you can problem-solve from the same educated perspective.
It’s annoying to have someone looking over your shoulder, micromanaging your every move. If you’ve ever had a super-controlling boss or even a nitpicky parent, you know the feeling. When someone doesn’t trust us or tries to manage us, it makes us feel resentful and irritated. We sometimes even lose our organic interest in the topic and stop putting our best effort into it.
That’s what happens when we don’t allow our partners to play an equal role in taking care of our children. We kind of sabotage our hope of true co-parenting. Instead, be conscious about how to empower your other half to be the parenting boss more often. If you’re breastfeeder-in-chief in your home, make him soother-in-chief, in charge of calming your baby. That might mean actually leaving the house so he has the space to parent without your eagle eyes. It definitely will mean holding your tongue (or sighs or eye rolls or judgment) if he’s not doing things exactly how you would do it. If you both get educated together, you can be equal “experts” and this won’t be so hard.
If you’re about to have your first baby, you’re bound to go through some major changes. So is your partner. But, unlike you, your partner isn’t going to get much guidance at all on his transition to parenthood unless he actively seeks it out. That’s just the way our society works (don’t worry – moms don’t get off easy in the end, either — the pressure to be constantly glowy and happy as we’re compared against the Motherhood Goddess Myth is just as strong and it hits us before our babies even arrive). You can play a major role in helping your partner get ready to be a new parent, though: Let dad be an equal parenting partner and an equal parenting expert from the very beginning.
Learn more about preparing to have a new baby. Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint!
AND, learn more about our Newborn Gift Boxes, the perfect gift for your favorite mom or mom-to-be!
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