New mothers can really influence Dads and facilitate your partner’s involvement in ways that will be helpful not only for Dad, but for you and the baby as well. Moms- your input is the key to an important piece for getting Dads involved!
Please share this with them….(that is, unless Dad is reading this, already!)
Try to understand more about the importance and the benefits of Dads involvement. Moms depend on Dad more than he may know? Don’t forget to share the details of your day, so he does not feel like a spectator. Address your concerns and encourage him to cooperate with decision making and parenting. How can you best involve Dad in activities? Schedule office visits for a time when Dad can come in, too? Schedule time for yourself away from the baby so Dad can really get a chance to bond alone?
“Moms”- What ever you do-don’t delve into the pitfall of some of the following theories:
Efficiency – “It’s faster if I feed the kids myself.”
Quality – “I do a better job of changing the babies’ diapers.”
Sympathy – “I don’t want to bother him while he’s watching TV.”
Admiration – “He works so hard…he shouldn’t have to come home and feed the kids, too.”
Anger – (This happens a lot when Mom and Dad are no longer romantically involved.)
Cultural beliefs about gender roles – “Men don’t prepare meals or change diapers…that’s women’s work.”
(- Adapted from Key Concepts: Including Dads in a WIC Setting)
Benefits to Children with Involved Dads:
- Greater empathy
- Healthier relationships with peers
- Higher self-esteem
- More self-control and less impulsive behavior
- More generous
- Increased curiosity and less fear in new situations
- Greater tolerance for stress and frustration
- Higher verbal skills
- Better school performance
Dads can bond with a new baby by:
- Providing comfort, perhaps by holding baby skin-to-skin or doing infant massage.
- Singing or talking to the baby.
- Cuddling and soothing the baby when s/he is upset. This might include waking up with the baby at night for non feeding-related awakenings.
- Gently rocking baby to sleep.
- Burping the baby after breastfeeding.
- Changing diapers or dressing the baby.
- Giving baby a bath.
- Playing with the baby with toys or simple hand games.
- Taking baby for a walk.
- Wearing a carrier that holds baby close to his body.
- Trying to make the baby laugh with funny faces or voices.
- Taking baby to a doctor’s appointment.
As children get older, Dad can bond and help out by:
- Teaching a new activity.
- Listening to their child talk and responding to them.
- Taking the child to daycare/preschool.
- After 6 months, introducing solid foods.
- Doing inexpensive and fun activities with his child(ren) like craft projects, going to the playground or flying kites.
- Including his child in his own activities at an age-appropriate level, such as giving kid-safe tasks in the kitchen or having kids help out with yard work and gardening.
“Many fathers appear to be more comfortable participating in child development services when they are given clearly delineated roles. When working with fathers who hesitate to interact with children, teachers and home visitors can try to direct fathers toward concrete activities while explaining how the activity will benefit their children’s growth. Such activities can include developmentally appropriate play, arts and crafts, help with meals, and reading books.”
(-Dedicated to Dads: Lessons from Early Head Start)
Dads also benefit from being involved with their children! Dads gain self-confidence, have a greater sense of overall wellbeing and are better able to express their emotions. What more could you ask for?
(- adapted from “Positive Father Involvement” by Minnesota Fathers & Families Network)
Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC