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Fathers

 

 

 

The Importance of Fathers

It’s pretty obvious that every child needs a father. Participatory fatherhood is good for kids, families, and fathers themselves. Men today are spending more time with their children and more time helping around the house.
And even more significant than the time spent with the children is the concern the men today have for their children and their desire to be active parents.

What fathers provide
For starters, fathers provide half of the child’s genetic material. They also provide a second pair of hands, monetary resources, a role model of an adult male, and the teaching of specific skills. And dad is another source of unconditional love so essential to every child.
We have all heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In traditional societies the extended family takes part in child-rearing.
Most of us don’t have an extended family handy so all the parenting tasks fall to mommy and daddy of the nuclear family. It’s pretty obvious that a mother employed outside the home needs help with child-rearing. But even if the mother stays at home and is full capable of providing all the child-rearing the baby needs, fathers SHOULD still help care for the children.
Children need to learn how to react to different people. The ideal situation in infancy is having two primary caretakers, a mother AND father.
Many people describe their own father as a distant figure, a person hard to get close to. But today’s fathers have been liberated from the stereotype of the cold, impersonal, unemotional man. Men are not afraid or ashamed to experience emotional closeness to their child.
Thus today’s father provides both boy and girl children with a role model of the nurturing man

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A Father’s Task
* Mother your child’s mother. When you provide nurturance and support for the mother you help her to mother well. She needs your support during pregnancy to help her deal with her changing body and feelings. She needs your help and support to recover from the birth. SHE NEEDS YOUR HELP IN PARENTING.
* Share in the most important part of parenting: Socializing the baby. This means discussing how to discipline the child, learning how to deal with your own feelings about how you were disciplined as a child, learning how to communicate with both spouse and child, and striving for consistency.
* Spend alone time with your toddler or child. PLAY, Go for walks. Hang out together. Read to the child.
* Be a role model to your sons. Your son will learn how to be a man from being with and dealing with you. And remember children will be apt to do what you do, not necessarily what you tell him to do.
* Teach your child what you know how to do and what you love to do whether it be sports, music, back-packing, or chess
* Help around the house. Motherhood is a full-time job. If you sit around while your wife does the house work you give a terrible message to your kids that mothers and their work are not valued.
* Enjoy your children. Look on the time you spend caring for children as a privilege rather than a chore. There will be times when your infant spits up on your new sweater or your toddler throws an awful tantrum in public. But there will also be blissful moments when your infant curs its hand around your finger or you overhear your child describe you as the “best daddy in the world”.

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Things Dad can do during Pregnancy.

During pregnancy a woman will tell you the one thing that bothers them the most during pregnancy is back and other body pain. If you have time give her a relaxing massage. Have her sit with her feet elevated if possible. Have her lay on her left side, if she would rather lie down. DO not rub her feet when she gets farther along. The feet have pressure points that may cause the mother to go into premature labor. Talk to the health care provider if you are concerned.

Go to all the doctors’ appointment you can with her. This is a good way to show her that you care and want to be involved. Plus it is so amazing to hear and see your baby’s heart beat and development.

Tell her everyday how much you love and appreciate her. Let her know that it is okay to feel lost and scared. Be there for her when she needs you.

If she is too tired to do the dishes offer to do them for her and other errands. Make sure she gets plenty of fluids and rests when she is tired

Remind your partner to take her vitamins. Pregnancy tends to bring on clumsiness and forgetfulness.

Give her compliments to boost her self esteem. This is a very emotional time in a woman’s life. Bring her a rose or a chocolate once in a while and remember you can never tell her how well she is doing too much.  

Bring her drinks/crackers, wet washcloth in the morning to help with morning sickness. And see if there is anything else you can do for her when she is uncomfortable.

Let her have the bed. Sometimes it can be hard to get comfortable when you are pregnant and may take stealing all the pillows, blankets and the bed as a whole!

Try to be understanding. Pregnancy makes a woman’s hormone levels rise and may make her very emotional. Don’t take it personally.

Every little thing helps. Remember her body is working very hard right now.

With so much attention diverted to your partner and her growing belly, the worry of finances, and maybe even your own emotions, it is easy to over do yourself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Take a shower, and/or a nap when she is resting and don’t bother with the little things that can be done later.  

Talking to your partner or male friends that have children may help with any fear you may be having about being a dad. It is completely normal for you to feel scared. Just know everything will be fine. The only way to learn is to do it. The fear is actually a good sign. It shows you care, and that you are going to do the best you can.

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Expecting Fathers:
It is expected of fathers to feel scared about being fathers. Whether it is the moment you find out your partner is pregnant or the moment your baby is born. The fear of having a baby you have to protect and provide for. Will you be a good dad? Do you have a good job? What if something happens to mommy and baby? You may even feel excited, anxious, nervous, emotions you can’t really explain. It is easy for you to get over whelmed and not even know it.  Just remember you are not alone. Try talking to your partner about the feeling you are having. Remember she is scared too and can probably use a shoulder to lean on. This is a perfect time to let her share any feelings she is having and may be able to help you understand what it is you are feeling. If you have other male friends that have children, try talking to them about what it is like. What are some expenses you can plan for? What are some things they did to ease their fears? How did they get prepared for ahead? What other little tid-bits are there that they can give you?  Remember no one really knows what they are doing until they do it. You will learn and grow right along with mommy and your precious baby.

If you would like to talk to other fathers check out our forum.

The Role of Dads
By Dr. Benjamin Spock
Reviewed and revised by Laura Jana, M.D. F.A.A.P,

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I believe that both boys and girls should be raised with deep conviction that the family is the richest and most enduring source of satisfaction in life.
At its best, in families where two parents are involved, parenting occurs in the spirit of equal partnership. Children will profit from experiencing a variety of styles of leadership and control by both parents—styles that neither exclude or demean, but enrich and complement the other.

A Fathers Capability and Responsibility
Men have been participation increasingly in all aspects of home and child-rearing. There is NO reason why fathers shouldn’t be able to do these jobs as well as mothers and contribute equally to the children’s security and development.

Acting as Role Model
When a father does his share of the work at home as a matter of course, he does much more than simply lighten his partner’s workload and give her companionship.
It shows that he believes this work is crucial to the welfare of the family, that it calls for judgment and skill, and that it’s his responsibility as much as hers when he is at home.
This is what sons and daughters need to see in action if they are to grow up with equal respect for the abilities and roles of men and women.

Fathers and Sons
A boy doesn’t grow spiritually to be a man just because he’s born with a male body. The things that makes him feel and act like a man is being able to pattern himself after men and older boys with whom he feels friendly.
He can’t pattern himself after a person unless he feels that this person likes him and approves of him. If a father is always impatient or irritated with him, the boy is likely to feel uncomfortable not only when he’s around his father but when he’s around other men.

Daughters need a Dad’s Approval, too.
A friendly father plays a different but equally important part in the development of a girl. She only patterns herself after him to a limited degree, but she gains confidence in herself as a girl and a woman from feeling his approval.
She gains confidence in herself from feeling his interest in her activities, achievements, opinions, and aspiration. The way she relates to boys and men later in life is influenced strongly by the kind of relationship she has had with her father throughout her childhood and by the relationship her parents enjoy with one another.

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Getting Acquainted with Your New Baby by Armin Brott
Reviewed by Laura Jana M.D., F.A.A.P.

OK let’s face it? Your baby isn’t going to do too much exciting things for a while. For the moment, he’s devoted to eating, sleeping, and using up that formidable stack of diapers. This is the perfect time, though, to start getting to know each other. Here are some of the best ways to begin.
* Hold him. Infants (and older kids, too) love to be carried. Your arms will do just fine. And if they get tired, try a front pack or sling.
* Talk. No he can’t understand a word you’re saying, but talk anyway. Explain everything you are doing as you’re doing it, tell him what is happening in the mews, etc,; it’ll help him become accustomed to your voice and introduce him to the rhythm of language.
*change his diapers. Use this one on one time with your baby to rub is pudgy little belly, tickle his knees or hiss his tiny finger. For at least the first month or you or someone else will have to change him as often as every two hours, so there’s no shortage of opportunities.

If you never done it before don’t worry: changing diapers is an acquired skill. In just a few days, you’ll be able to do it with your eyes closed (although you probably shouldn’t). In the meantime, even if you make a mistake or two, baby poop washes right off your hands and won’t stain your clothes.
One hint, thought: Immediately after undoing the diaper, put a towel or cloth diaper over baby for a few seconds. For some reason only your baby will understand, the sudden rush of fresh air on the crotch often triggers urination, which means your little boy could spray you unceremoniously.

What about play?
If you were hoping to play football or maybe chess with your baby, give up on that idea for a while. But try to spend at least 20 minutes, broken into 5-minuite chunks, everyday doing something with the baby one on one. Chatting reading aloud, rocking, making faces, experimenting with the baby’s reflexes, or even simply catching his gaze and looking into his eyes are great activities. Keep in mind a few things:
* Listen to what baby is telling you. If he cries or seems bored, stop what you’re dong. Over stimulating your baby can make him fussy or irritable, so keep play time to 5 minutes or so.
* Be encouraging. Use lots of facial and verbal encouragement, such as smiles and laughter. Although he can’t understand the words, your baby definitely understands the feelings behind them. Even at only a few days old, he’ll want to please you (that may change in about 12 years), and lots of positive feedback form you will help build self-confidence.
* Pick the right time. An infant’s activity and alertness levels change over the course of the day. The best time to play physical games is when he’s in an active kind of mood (like those times when he’s moving his arms and legs, around, clearly in an attempt to engage you); playing with toys or books is fine when he’s quieter and more relaxed, perhaps just after feeding time. Most important, set up your playtimes when you can devote your full attention to your child, without the interruption of phone calls or other distractions.
* Be gentle. Because babies’ heads are relatively large (one quarter of their body size at birth vs. one-seventh by the time they’re adults) and their neck muscles are not yet developed, their heads tend to be pretty floppy for the fist few months. Be sure to support the head from behind at all times, and avoid sudden or jerky motions. Also, NEVER shake your child as this can make their lilts brains rattle around inside their skulls, causing bruises or permanent injuries, lastly, never throw the baby up in the air. Yes, your dad might have done it with you and it certainly looks like fun, but it can be extremely dangerous.

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When Jealousy Accompanies the Arrival of a New Baby
By Armin Brott reviewed by Laura Jana M.D., F.A.A.P.  

Jealous feelings (and you may experience plenty of them) can have tremendously negative impact on your experience of fatherhood. This isn’t to say that there’s nothing to be jealous about; there certainly is. And it’s completely normal to have these feelings.
But the real question is who or what is making you jealous? Is it your wife, because she gets to spend more item with your baby than you do especially if she’s breastfeeding?  Or is it your baby, for coming between you and your wife, taking up what you think is more than a fair share of your wife’s attention? Maybe you’re jealous of the babysitter for being the recipient of the baby’s daytime smiles and love, which you’d rather see directed at you? Or perhaps it’s your baby’s carefree life. The answer of course, may be all the above
If you’re going to get over these destructive thoughts and feelings, you need to start by coming clean to your wife. Weather you’re seeking more emotional support from her or more private time, tell your wife about it as clearly and honestly as possible.
This isn’t likely to be easy: You probably are uncomfortable about bothering her with your problems right now and understandably so. After what she’s just been through physically, you want to be supportive, right? You might be afraid that she’ll think you’re wimpy or that you only think of yourself. Whatever it is that’s holding you back. You need to get over it. Soon.
The worst and most dangerous thing you can do with your feelings of jealousy is to try to bury them. If you say nothing, you may grow resentful of your wife and your baby, and that’s harmful to your relationships with both of them.
However, as important as it is to have a discussion talking alone won’t be enough. You’ll also need to spend some extra time with your baby, especially doing things that involve skin to skin contact such as bathing, cuddling, playing, putting her to bed, and changing her diapers. Taking the time to bottle feed your baby is great too.
These activities and others, such as taking the baby along when you go grocery shopping or dropping her into a front pack and heading out for a walk, will help you bond and build your own solid relationship with your child, independent of your wife. And once you’ve done that there wont’ be a thing left to be jealous of.

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Fatherhood and Changing Relationships
By Armin Brott reviewed and revised by Robert Needlman, M.D. F.A.AP.
Given how small they are, it’s kind of amazing that babies can have such a huge impact on the lives of the adults around them. Just think for example about how different things are for you now compared to your rep-fatherhood life.
Simply by being born, your baby has already transformed you and your partner from a couple into parents, your siblings into aunts and uncles, and your parents and in-laws into grandparents.
Even more amazing is the impact that babies have on the preexisting relationships between the adults in their lives. Babies can bring a couple together, for example, or they can create a lot of stress and divisiveness (or at least magnify it). They can reunite families and mend old wounds or they can open new ones. They can even change the nature of your friendships. Here are several examples of how this play out.
* You and your partner aren’t going to be nearly as available for last minute movies or double dates and you might not be quite as happy to have friends drop by unannounced. And if by some miracle, you do end up with a little down time, you’re probably going to want to spend it sleeping or simply hanging out with your partner. As a result, some of your friends might feel a little neglected.
* Your new, less-spontaneous lifestyle may especially impact your relationships with your single male friends. Having a new baby probably means fewer late night poker games. Your buddies may stop calling you because they think you’re too busy or not interested in hanging out with them anymore. Or you might stop calling them because seeing their relatively carefree and obligation-free lives may make you jealous.
* You and your partner might find yourselves more interested in spending time with other parents in your general age range. You might find that you don’t have quite as much in common anymore with your single or childless friends, and they might start feeling the same way too.  
*some of your friends who have been parents longer than you have might start getting on your nerves by remarking on every single thing they thing you’re doing wrong as a new father.
* certain male friends may be disdainful or unsupportive of your taking an active, involved role in your baby’s life, having bought into the old stereotype that men should leave child-rearing up to their wives, or that putting your family first could have a negative impact on your career.

The Older the Child, the Bigger the Impact
At first, your baby will play with whomever you introduce her to; her first friends are most likely going to be your friends’ kids. But as she gets older and starts showing interest in other children and making friends of her own, this will change, and you’ll start socializing with the parents of her friends.
The good news is that this can help to widen your circle of friends and may even make some of your adult relationships last longer than they would have, because the kids like playing together. On the other hand, old friendships can sometimes be strained. Friends you used to spend a lot of time with when your babies were young may feel a little jealous of your new friends.
And then there’s the strange dynamic that play out with the parents of kids who don’t get along as well as they used to: the kids’ conflicts often affect the adults, who instinctively take their child’s side and put the blame on the other kid’s parents. It’s a little childish, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. This kind of thing can get really ugly if one child hurts another.
In addition your relationships with new and old friends may be subtly, or not so subtly, affected by competition. Let’s face it: We all want out children to be the biggest, smartest, fastest, cutest, and funniest, and it’s only natural (especially for guys) to get a little competitive. But letting that emotion get the best of you is not likely to keep your friendship close, so keep tabs on it. 

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How to Smooth out Bumps along the Way
*Get a calendar and learn how to use it. Work out a schedule with your partner so that the two of you can get some time to yourselves as a couple and, if you can, as individuals, even if it’s only for an hour to two at a stretch.
* Watch what you say. No matter how polite and interested your childless friends act, there’s a limit to how much they really want to hear about all the exciting things(to you anyway) that your baby can do or haw many steps she took yesterday.
*Learn to accept change. It may sound harsh, but the fact is that you may lose some friends, and they’ll lose you, now that you’re a parent. Hard as it is, just keep in mind that you’ll gain plenty of new ones in the process.
* Don’t give equal importance to every bit advice you get. Whatever other people know about taking care of children they learned on they job, and that’s how you’re going to learn, too.
*Don’t cave to pressure. Sure, a lot of men still consider it socially acceptable to leave all the child care to the mother, but it’s a lot more rewarding when you jump in and do it yourself. Eventually your true friends will come around and some of them even end up asking you for a pointer or two.
* Watch the competition. If your friend’s baby crawls, walks, talks, sings, says “dada,” or gets an early-admissions preschool acceptance letter before your baby does, you may find yourself a bit green with envy. But what does it matte? In your heart, you’ll always see your child as the best on around, and the same goes for your friends. Why burst their bubble?

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About: Fatherhood
Why babies cry
Crying is a new baby’s first means of communication. As time goes on, parents get a little more attuned to the type of cry and what the baby is communicating. But at first, every cry seems the same. A cry from your baby probably means one or more of the following:
*Baby is wet
*Baby is hungry
*Baby is bored or lonely
*Baby needs attention
*Baby has had too much attention
*Baby is in pain
*Baby is tired
*Baby is waking up
*Baby needs to have a stool
*Baby is uncomfortable (too hot, too cold, too constricted)

What should I do?
Pediatricians and experienced dads and moms recommend the following strategies for dealing with a crying baby.
Respond to the cry. If the baby is by himself and starts to cry , pick him/her up. Or go to him and talk or sing in soothing tones. It’s important to be responsive, it builds trust that you will really need later.
Get close. Get your face right up close to baby so that when the baby opens her eyes, they see your eyes and face. Often the security from seeing dad up close can calm a baby right down.
Check the environment. See if they baby needs a diaper change. When you check the diaper, check for diaper rash or if a diaper’s tape or pin has come loose. If it has been a while since feeding time, take him or her to mom or get a bottle ready. If the baby is really warm or cold in a crib, change the blankets or sleeper.
Get moving. Many babies tend to settle down with a little walking, patting, or moving about. If you have a baby swing, you might try putting her in the swing and starting the motion. If you think about it, while baby was in the womb, he was moving constantly as mom moved about. We have even had success at desperate times with putting the baby in a car seat and going for a drive to get him to stop crying.
Try a little noise. We know that babies can hear sounds from outside the womb during the late stages of pregnancy. So a little noise like a radio turned down low, a fan, or other constant dull noise can sometimes comfort a crying baby.
Give baby something to suck on. Babies are a little weird sometimes. They want to suck, but they don’t want to eat. A pacifier can sometimes just do the trick.
Put him/her down. Sometimes we found our babies got overtired or over-simulated and needed some alone time to calm down. Or is you are getting stressed about the baby crying, it’s important and safe to let the baby cry while you get some space. Trade off with mom. Call a neighbor to help.
Do NOT shake the baby EVER.
Sometimes parents get too stressed with a crying baby and are tempted to shake the baby to get him or her to stop crying. This is an extremely dangerous approach. A baby’s neck can’t yet support its head, and shaking can result in brain damage, spinal injuries and death. NEVER, NEVER SHAKE A CHILD

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How long is too long? Different babies cry differently. The key is to watch for a crying pattern that is outside your baby’s normal pattern. The general rule of thumb is if a baby is crying constantly and uncontrollable for two hours, it’s time to call a doctor.

By exercising patience and gentleness, and using the techniques for quieting the baby, you should find some ways that work to help your baby find comfort, and you to find some occasional peace and quiet.

Dad’s role as a nurturer
The importance of being a father
Studies demonstrate that healthy father-child relationships help children flourish when it comes to coping and adapting, solving problems, staying in school and developing longer lasting relationships. Involved dads also win; enjoy better overall health, higher self-esteem and a more positive self-image. “Studies show that when fathers are involved in the lives of their children, both parent and child win,” say Suzan Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust Fund. “All parents need and deserve the skills and support needed to be the best they can be. We applaud our dads on father’s day and throughout the year; they’ve got a tough job

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It starts with getting involved
Start early. From the moment you know that you will be a father, you can be involved in your child’s life. If possible, go with your child’s mother to any doctor’s appointments, where you will be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat, see the sonogram of the baby, and ask questions. If you have not been around children, try to spend some time with family or friends with infants. Talk about the experience of having a baby with other dads, or pick up a book and find out what to expect- they’re not just for moms. It’s natural for first time parents to be worried. No one knows what they are doing the first time. There may be parenting, childbirth, or other classes for both parents or even specifically for dads in your community or through a local hospital.

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Be ready for change
Having a child brings financial, lifestyle, and other adjustments. Children are expensive, there’s no doubt about it. However, there are ways you can prepare for this. Find out from other fathers what some of the costs are that you can expect. Some places of work allow dads to take some time off your around the birth of the child. Ask what the policy is at your work. Start saving as soon as you know you are having a baby. Even is you are separated from your child’s mother, you should help support your child. Not only are you legally required to help support your child, but supporting your child also means being there to help her daily needs. Talk to your child’s mother about how you will share the responsibility of caring for your child. Make sure that neither of you get overwhelmed, and take out some time for yourselves, as well.

Take on specific tasks:
When it comes to taking care of your child, there are few specific roles for moms or dads. A good way of bonding with your child, beginning early on, is to decide on a few things that you will do for him. For example, you can give him a bath, read to him, or be part of the bedtime routine. You can choose one a day a week to pick him up from school, or be the one to take him to certain activities.

Get involved:
Whether you are a working father or you stay at home, whether you live with your child or apart from her, know what is going on in her life. Attend school events, know his activities and whereabouts, and help with homework. Be the “good guy” and the “bad guy”, be around for the fun times but also participate in disciplining your child and teaching him responsibilities and values.

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last updated 07/16/09