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Our society and culture generally sides with moms on the child-rearing aspect of life. In any family-based TV show, Mom knows best. Dad fumbles around and messes things up until mom sets him straight. No wonder many guys don’t naturally gravitate to the job.They’ve been acculturated to think they’re not that great with kids.
The fact is that both parents are fully capable of taking excellent care of their baby. That is, if they don’t feel sidelined, second fiddle, bossed around, micromanaged, belittled, criticized, directed, scolded or otherwise treated like they don’t know what they’re doing. Most guys who feel this way (really, that goes for any of us stuck in a situation where we feel unqualified) are going to do one of two things: lash out or back off. Most back off. They try to do things “mom’s way,” but when that’s not good enough (because they’re not mom) they inch back, feign incompetence (which is often confirmed by mom) and relinquish the opportunity to really get in there with their kids. It’s a shame because when men are encouraged and supported to be great dads, everyone benefits.
This is especially important for mom’s who are going back to work after their maternity leave. Even if you’re using a nanny or day care center, your ability to work will be so much easier (and more productive) if you set the stage from day one that both you and your partner can take care of your baby. Sure, you might be the only one who can breastfeed, but you can balance that courtside advantage with other baby-care responsibilities.
And guys, here’s my # 1 piece of advice for you:
Don’t wait for permission, instructions or suggestions to start raising your children. If you don’t know what you’re doing – start studying, ask for advice or wing it. Being a dad starts on day one with diaper changes, walks in the dark, sleepless nights, colic, teething, diaper bags and burp cloths. Form the bond that teaches your child – you can be trusted. And trust your instincts. You know what you’re doing. Seriously, Dad, you’ve got this.
Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and children. And co-author of, The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Birthing Plan for a Safe, Less Painful, and Successful Delivery for You and Your Baby. Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.