Being a father is scary, rewarding, challenging, and intimidating all at the same time. The birth of my first son, Howard (pictured right at about 7 months old), knocked me out of my socks. I broke down and cried so many times right after he was born. Yes, I’m a crier (sometimes I wish I wasn’t). I was overwhelmed with the reality of helping give life to this beautiful child, with responsibility, and love for this little ball of skin and hair.
All fathers will deal with having children differently, and I’m sure that the first few nights at home are more of a shock for some than others. I’ve heard of fathers that completely separate themselves from children because they are afraid they will harm them (and sometimes this isn’t helped by overly protective or untrusting mothers). There are also fathers that are over-involved and don’t let their wives do what they do best – love and care for their children.
After we had our second son, Stone, we were presented with a handout that our doctor gives to all parents of new children. I laughed at first, but quickly realized that there are probably fathers that need to hear this. I needed to hear it, actually. Here’s what it said…
The Father’s Role
…The age of noninvolvement of the father is over. Not only does the mother need the father to help her with household chores, but the baby also needs to develop a close relationship with the father. Today’s father helps with feeding, changing diapers, bathing, putting to bed, reading stories, dressing, disciplining, homework, playing games, and calling the doctor when the child is sick. The father needs to be his wife’s support system. He needs to relieve her in the evenings so she can nap or get a brief change of scenery.
A father may avoid interacting with his baby during the first year of life because he is afraid he will hurt his baby or that he won’t be able to calm the child the baby cries. The longer a father goes without learning parenting skills, the harder it becomes to master them. At a minimum, a father should hold and comfort his baby at least once a day.
~ Pullman Family Medicine
I have to admit that it is tempting (because it seems easier) to work rather than be engaged at home with my wife and kids. This was a good reminder of how important my presence and help is to my wife and children.
What do you think? Fathers, do you find it hard to engage with your children and help your wife at home? Wives, how can we as Fathers help you more with young children?