Chris will present Top Survival Tips for New Dads this Wednesday, September 16 at the PEPS for Dads event at Lantern Brewing. $10 or pay what you can. Food and drink available for purchase on site. Register at http://pepsfordads.brownpapertickets.com/.
This article is an excerpt of a longer piece published by Perinatal Support Washington, the new name of Postpartum Support International of Washington in their 2015 summer newsletter.
Challenges Facing New Dads
Chris states that from his perspective, the biggest challenge for new fathers is defining their role or purpose within the family unit. “Universally, I hear new dads wanting to be engaged with the baby, but not knowing how, or not trusting that they have the skills.” He shares that some of the struggles he hears are new dads who want to be more directly involved, but they are financially unable to or have limited paternity leave.
The second area Chris recognizes as a struggle for new dads is the challenges a new baby puts on the relationship between partners. Anecdotally, from his practice, he reports that many dads feel displaced by the new baby and find they are getting less attention from their partner.
Tips for New Dads
Chris’s most important tip is “to jump right in and not assume you are ill-equipped.” He says, “Dads are innately equipped to respond to babies and can help directly with things like diapering, burping, and swaddling and also indirectly with tasks such as labeling bottles, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning.”
Chris encourages defining new roles and responsibilities earlier rather than later. He states, “the earlier you can define these roles, and the clearer you can define expectations, the better you will be at avoiding resentment.” Some of the areas Chris recommends focusing on are expectations regarding time alone with the baby, as a family, and by yourself or with friends.
Chris also recommends building a parental community outside the family. He states that “talking honestly to other parents about your highs and lows can be incredibly helpful.” He encourages new dads to “make it a point to find medical providers, other parents, baby classes, etc., and contribute to that building of community.”
Finally, Chris suggests that dads don’t “put the relationship on the back burner too long.” He shares that it’s normal for a couple’s satisfaction and intimacy to go down the first 3 months of having a new baby, but suggests that the relationship should not be neglected for too long. “Make a point to show appreciation for each other and have a formal check-in at least once a week.
About the Author
Perinatal Support Washington has been supporting families for 25 years. We have helped thousands of families throughout the state on our Warm Line and at our support groups. Each family who reaches out to us-learn that they are not alone, and that treatment and help is available!