When a baby arrives in a home; it is a moment of joy and a new found status that is of being parents. Mothers are always acknowledged for their role in raising the child but fathers seldom get acknowledged. Fathers also play a major role in bringing up a child. They also share the responsibilities with the mother. It is time now to acknowledge them.
Jaya is a frustrated new Mom. Once the baby admirers had departed, she was left alone to cope up with her exhausted and weak body and a newborn who now dictated the household schedule. To make matters worse, her husband, who was equally overwhelmed by the entire experience, had begun behaving in a bizarre manner, at times even distancing himself from her and the baby.
Fathers too need help to adjust
Jaya is not alone. Becoming a parent takes a little bit of getting used to - for both partners. The only difference being that the changing roles of the 'new Mom' is widely acknowledged, while that of the 'new Dad' oft goes unrecognised. Yet, he is the one who has to get used to taking the back seat, while shouldering all the new responsibilities. The sooner the couple understand that the father, Nitin, needs some time and space to get used to the drastically changed routine, the better it is for the couple and baby.
Parental responsibilities are increasing
With the changing face of families from the traditional joint family to nuclear families, the physical and emotional strains of new parenthood also increase, as couples have to cope with new responsibilities, by themselves, and without help and time-honoured advice from the elders. The outcome of all this is that romance and sex take a backseat and all the communication revolves around 'baby' topics. This often creates an awkward situation, and a strain on the marriage. The best way for the couple to cope would be to get Nitin involved in the caring and raising of the baby. This will not only strengthen the bond between husband and wife, but will also help raise a healthy and happy child.
The profile of the father is changing
The traditional profile of a father is still that dad works all day, comes home and spends a few hours playing with the kids at night, before having dinner and heading off to bed. It is generally believed that the caring and raising of children is best left to women. However the 'Millennium Age Dads' are changing and challenging this tradition. They are stepping in as real caretakers with their infants and toddlers, and are doing very well! Also research shows that active fathers who help in caring and raising their child create healthier and stronger marriages, and their children are well balanced.
Infants derive comfort from fathers too
Fathers have that special advantage over mothers, with the distinctly deeper tenor of their voice and 'the rise and fall rhythm' of their chest. Babies derive comfort from the vibrations of the male voice, and also from the warm feel and throb of the father's chest, which straightaway lulls them to sleep.
Tips on getting dad more involved
- The role of a father is just as important when it comes to raising children. It is imperative that mothers give fathers certain responsibilities. Dads should try and watch all those TV shows which encourage father-child bonding, and should refer to books on 'infant care' or 'fatherhood'.
- Couples should discuss and communicate anxieties about the newborn.
- Sooner or later, as dad gets more involved in the upbringing of the children, he will realise the importance and significance of this involvement.
- You as a father should try and draw out your own memories of childhood when raising your children. What did your father do right, and wrong? Learn from your own experiences.
- As a wife, you could demonstrate to your husband how the newborn responds and relates to moms and dads differently. As much as the baby needs the tender caress of his Mom, he also craves for the reassuring, firm touch of his dad. Whenever your baby is in a good mood and recently fed, leave him in the care of your husband. Encourage him to interact with the baby, and guide him subtly if he still finds it difficult to bond with him. Try to discover the ways to make your baby gurgle with joy, and share these pleasures together.
- Don't dole out advice or rush to comfort the baby everytime he cries. Let dad console him.
- Give father and child him time and space, so they can work out their relationship and equations by themselves. Your husband will device his own ways of taking care of the infant and coping up with situations. In fact, you will be encouraged by the reassuring tips he will come up with, which somehow never occurred to you.
- What a new dad hates most is watching his newborn cry, and being unable to soothe him or not knowing how to. Most dads avoid participating in infant care due to this very sense of helplessness and of being overpowered by feelings of inadequacy and distress. Help your husband overcome his uncertainties and master the techniques of baby care.
Remember, a father who is actively involved in his child's life (not just financially) by shouldering responsibilities and contributing to decisions on child-raising, plays a tremendous role in determining whether the child will grow up having strong family ties and a healthy, well-balanced attitude, or not. Such participation not only lays the foundation for a healthy bond between father and child, but also leaves the mother with more time on her hands for other work - and play!