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Keeping Dad Involved in Daily RoutineMay 31, 2012
by Cathy O’Hara Harrison
In women, the nurturing gene is inherent. Most of us feel compelled to care. So when a new child arrives and the “we” that we experience with our spouse or significant other promptly turns into “three,” often times our deep feelings of love shift to our new bundle of joy.
This transformation from woman to mother can sometimes leave dads feeling left out.
For the past 20 years, Greg Bishop, founder of Boot Camp for New Dads, has been doling out advice to fathers-to-be.
This year, he’s kicked off a brand new project designed to help moms and dads work together to form the strongest family possible. The goal is to foster conversation between couples and shrink the divide that occurs when a child enters into the dynamic.
Lifestyle Editor Cathy O’Hara Harrison spoke to Greg about the New Moms Hearts and Minds Project website, www.newmomsproject.org:
What is the idea behind newmomsproject.org?
For more than 20 years, the veteran dads in Daddy Boot Camp® and Dads Adventure® have been telling dads-to-be how important it is to support and understand mom when their baby comes. Understanding the changes a new mom goes through is one of the biggest challenges for a new dad.
But a new dad also goes through his own changes. There is really no where for new moms and moms-to-be to get information on how they can understand and bring out the best in a new dad. When they do, both mom and dad get more balance. They have a much stronger partnership as parents and their baby gets a healthier and happier family. What could be better?
Who is the web site designed for?
The web site’s first objective is to engage mothers, whom we believe will provide great advice based on their experiences, (what they did right and what they wish they had done differently) and pass this information on to their “younger sisters” or friends who have become pregnant for the first time. We are basically tapping into the “mommy network,” which every woman instantly connects with the moment the pregnancy test turns positive.
What is the biggest issue that divides new parents?
The notion that mom’s needs totally trump dad’s needs. Saying this sounds wimpy, but this is a very dumb ground rule for the formative months when new parents are trying to figure out how to raise a family together. And when the baby arrives and the hormones kick in, mom falls madly in love with the short one, forgetting why she loved dad in the first place, and their relationship is really thrown for a loop. Mom feels like she’s the only one who can care for “her” baby in the right way, and often pushes dad away without meaning to or being able to stop herself. It does mom no good, because she is left holding the bag of responsibility for the baby.
How can a new mom build up her partner’s confidence in being a new father?
By having twins or a c-section, both of which give dad the opportunity to jump right in, which builds his confidence. Also, by not engaging in gate keeping, especially after "she swore she wouldn’t." By leaving him alone with the baby, or better, by suggesting he take the baby with him to the hardware store or to visit his buddies – anything that gives him one on one time to build his relationship with his baby. This is when guys really feel like fathers. Of course, encouragement and acknowledgement that he’s doing a good job. Everybody likes a compliment.
Relationships between partners shift when a baby comes into the picture… what do parents need to do to make time for each other?
They not only shift, they basically need to be rebuilt! Recognition of this reality through a little education is a necessary first step. They need to know that this shift is coming and they need to be proactive.
Guys talk about the importance of “the list”. Before the baby comes, a couple should make a list of all the things they like to do together. Once the baby is here and things settle down a little, dad should pull the list out and start making plans. It doesn’t have to be anything big, and at first it definitely won’t be, but the point is to be aware that they’re going to have to make the effort.
The guys also talk about how portable babies are. Mom & Dad can get out of the house and take the baby with them to visit a friend, or just walk around the block together. The important thing is to be in the habit of making the relationship important to both of you.
Is there one thing that tops the list that a father-to-be can do to prepare to share his world with a child?
Getting a big screen TV to watch football games together (an optimal experience for baby brain development) seems pretty selfless.
OK – the real answer. Men often connect with their babies by fantasizing about things they will do together when their child grows. A father that likes to surf can start his baby on swim lessons at six months. If he likes cars, babies are fascinated at car shows when they’re not asleep. Dads tend to “show their babies the world,” and it works best if it is dad’s world.
Guys should also get educated on what to expect. A little bit of information goes a long way in making the transition easier.
If there is anything else that you would like to add, please feel free!!
Any dad will tell you that becoming a father has changed his life in ways he can’t fully describe. Nothing is more important for us guys than being good dads to our kids and all around us we see more and more men stepping up to the plate. Think about all the stereotypes in the media of the dumb dad that can’t tell which way the diaper goes, or how to survive for a few hours when he’s on his own with the kids. This is really counterproductive to fathers doing their best. What we should be doing is appreciating the contribution these guys are making to their families and to society and giving them a hand!
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