How Dad Can Help You Succeed

How Dad Can Help You Succeed

He’s Up for the Job

He most definitely is. 

It’s a fact that fathers have a long history in hands-on baby raising, and science has proven dad’s role, while different from mom's, is invaluable. But with mommy brain taking over, appreciating your partner may be harder than you think. Understanding the value he brings will help you stay the course.

Dads…

  • Have a tremendously positive impact on their child’s emotional and cognitive development.
  • Provide perspective and lean towards long range thinking while moms are often present-focused.
  • Tend to have a more relaxed parenting style that brings balance to mom’s uber-protective instincts.
  • Offer mom emotional and physical support, which eases stress and pressure. 

Parenting as a team strengthens your relationship and provides positive role-modeling for your child. One proactive step to make sure you're working with, not against, Dad is to anticipate you may naturally try to handle everything on your own. If so, see it as a wake-up call and take a break or leave the house so Dad can manage things on his own. Like a muscle you learn to build, the more you give your partner one-on-one time with the baby, the more your trust in him will grow.

READ! Studies Prove Men are Built to Parent

“My husband mellows me out when I start to worry too much or read too much…We balance each other out.”

- New Mom

"You can’t micro-manage; you can’t gatekeep; you can’t tell Dad to do it your way. But it’s so hard, especially when the baby's crying, because you feel like you know how to make them stop. Like you know what the problem is and you just want to say, 'Do what I say and she’ll be fine.'"

- New Mom

He’s Motivated to Help You Thrive

A new dad has several unspoken priorities you need to know about, and a big one is wanting to impress you with his parenting skills: this starts from day one. Men thrive on respect, and the quickest way to show your appreciation is to acknowledge all the ways he’s succeeding. 

Dad also flourishes when he feels you’re in it together—that you trust him and he’s able to support you. He knows you’re scared and unsteady in new-mom territory, and he'll likely be the first one to spot any issues, so don’t hide your feelings. Sharing what your're experiencing is a great way to diffuse any “bad mom” thoughts that may feel very real, and you might also find you’re more honest with your partner than anyone else. 

"I read an article on how dads are often being ignored throughout the whole pregnancy and I got really emotional. I said to my boyfriend, 'I just want you to know I really and truly appreciate every single thing you’ve done and how you’ve jumped on this roller coaster with me.' That made his whole life, me just saying it and thinking about it. He was like, “All right...we’re in it together.'” - New Mom

Trust & Communication

A common refrain from new dads about new moms: “She doesn’t trust me with my own baby and expects me to read her mind as to what she needs.” As moms, it's true that we get so overwhelmed we become exasperated when our partner doesn’t immediately know what “obviously” needs to be done. 

As brain research shows, men and women are wired differently and process differently: It’s definitely not the case that men are flawed or incompetent. So make it a habit to clearly communicate with your partner; the more specific you are, the more likely he is to deliver exactly what you need. Also know that his role is largely defined by you, and if you’re automatically doing everything for the baby, he’ll feel his involvement, and your need for him, is minimal: not an idea scenario for anyone. So, keep communication strong and teamwork a priority, and address any challenges earlier rather than later. We have yet to meet a dad who doesn’t want to be a hero to his wife and baby!

“Make it clear what you need. We can’t assume that Dad knows how to best meet our needs, particularly when we can’t or don’t always express them.”

- New Mom

“When our baby was about eight months old, communication started to break down, and we had to reconnect, reevaluate. He had a lot to say and so did I. You have to constantly be revisiting that kind of stuff. So talk now and talk often.”

- New Mom

He Will Make Your Relationship a Priority

Which is good, because you will likely stop doing that when you fall in love with your baby. Dads are desperate to keep that couple connection strong, and by month three he’s going to want you back.

This is where it’s important to listen. 

Dad will likely be more tuned in to declines in the quality of your relationship and the first person to voice it. And since you know it’s important to nurture your relationship, take his concerns seriously and work together to keep your connection strong. Prioritizing your relationship will also bring balance to the all-consuming experience of motherhood. Being mindful of your marriage may feel overwhelming in the beginning, like you’re going through the motions, but that’s okay. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, and just see it as practice as you’re slowly getting your groove back. 

"Seeing how tender he is with the baby, this big guy, is just...wow. But you’re so tired and you have no energy to give your husband. We try to take half an hour together after the baby goes to bed." - New Mom

“It’s critical to maintain a relationship with Dad once the baby is born. A newborn demands the majority of your time and attention, and eventually, that might make Dad feel left out or not as important. Spending quality time together when the baby sleeps, or even just thanking him for his help, makes a huge difference. A solid relationship between you and Dad is the best foundation for raising your family.”

- New Mom

“Sometimes you just need to leave the dishes in the sink or the laundry unfolded. We never regretted taking a little break. It helped to keep us connected.”

- New Mom

Dad’s Support Makes a Big Difference

There are tons of ways dads make a big difference, but here are some specific examples…

Helps You Build Confidence 

Dad’s encouragement and support for you is crucial, but it’s easy to blow him off when you’re feeling frustrated and insecure. Let him be positive, constructive, and creative in helping to boost your confidence, and believe him when he says you’re doing a great job and how much he appreciates you: it’s all true! 

Supports You in Bonding with Your Baby

Don’t be surprised if it isn’t love at first sight. Many moms experience challenges bonding with their babies right away. Dad can offer a sympathetic ear you trust and point out everything you’re doing right for your baby. And by the way, mothers who get a late start in bonding go on to develop as strong a relationship with their babies as those who get an early start. 

Manages Visitors

His natural desire to protect your new family can be channeled directly into managing the flow of well-intentioned visitors who show up to see the baby in the first weeks after birth. Ask him to pay attention to your (and your baby’s) stress level when receiving visitors and politely bring things to an end when you’ve all had enough. He can also establish and enforce ground rules like handwashing before holding the baby.

Baby Blues First Responder 

If (when, for most moms) the baby blues surface, Dad can help lighten your load, encourage you to get out of the house and remind you that it’s absolutely normal. If you’re slipping into a postpartum mood disorder, Dad may likely be the first (or only) one close enough to notice the symptoms. If he does, it’s important to immediately consult professional help. Dad can take care of the baby and ask friends and relatives for support. He can also reassure you that it will pass and you’ll get through it together.

“After the C-section, I was out of commission…He became the Zen master of changing diapers and all that stuff. It's something that's concrete and fixable; there's no guesswork involved, so he could tackle it and take it on."

- New Mom

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