At MOPS we are all about mums! But we are also about supporting families, and we acknowledge fathers’ important role in their children’s lives. We have just celebrated Father’s Day and, for some people, it can be a day full of mixed feelings. Grieving a father they have lost, or the fact they never had a good father figure can make the day a hard one. It’s tough, as fathers have such an important role in our lives. That’s why we must be encouraging new dads to be the best they can be.
New kid on the block
Being a new dad can be a daunting gig. There’s new skills and routines to master, and if looking after a child isn’t something he has done much before, confidence can be lacking. This isn’t helped by advertisements and movies encouraging stereotypes of the ‘incompetent bloke’ always getting parenting wrong. Encourage fellas in their new role as fathers. Let them make silly mistakes and learn, just as you do/did. No biggie. You will both learn and grow into parenthood.
Mums, if you need help, ask
Sometimes dads aren’t sure how to help practically in the newborn stages, especially if you are breastfeeding and the one getting up at night. Let Dad help out as much as you can. Let him burp and bond with bub while you take a shower, have a nap or just eat. Hand off baby bath time to Dad. Let him in on the routines you have noticed with bub (feeding, wake and sleep cycles) so you can both work together as much as possible.
Different doesn’t mean worse
We all know men and women often think differently, and as humans, we all have different personalities. I am not a risk taker. Watching my son mountain bike at speed is not something I like to do. However, my husband is great at taking him out and helping him to safely learn to take risks- which is an important skill. Playing to your strengths can be a good way to parent as a team.
Build him up
Fathers have to learn how to be a dad, just as we learn how to be a mum. Parenting is a (sometimes steep) learning curve. In marriage, you are a team who should be working for the best for each other and your family. Kids are very perceptive of how you praise or criticise their father, and to be honest, your relationship is a model for their future relationships.
If you appreciate something your husband has done for you or your family, tell him, or show him using his preferred love language. Look for the good in each other. Bear with each other in the not-so-good parts. Sleep deprivation can make anyone snappy, but try to keep communicating with each other- your needs, your fears, your appreciation. Sometimes dads just need to be told they are doing a good job too.