Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are You Ready To Be A Father?

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“How wonderful a thing is a child. How beautiful is a newborn babe. There is no greater miracle than the creation of life” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?,” Ensign, Nov. 1998)

So you are going to be a father. Are you ready?

There are some indicators that you should be aware of. First off, let’s dispel the common misconception that marital satisfaction declines heavily after a child. On average a decline does happen, but the decline is usually small. There is also the potential for marital satisfaction to remain the same or increase.

Studies have shown that there are certain indicators that will help a marriage thrive during the transition to parenthood. Belsky and Kelly (1994) called them the six transition domains:

  • Self – the couple’s ability to merge their individual selves into a large ‘Us’
  • Gender Ideology – the meeting of the couples expected and predetermined gender roles
  • Emotionality – whether the couple is vulnerable to stress
  • Expectations – is the baby affecting their marriage in the way the couple expected?
  • Communication – can the couple keep talking like they did before the baby
  • Conflict Management – can the couple handle stress in a healthy way

Belsky and Kelly also said that the feelings of love towards a spouse played a role as well in the transition to parenthood.

The one typical cause of dispute after the arrival of a child is the division of household labor. Usually men will do what they know how to do best, and that is work more paid hours to provide for the family. Women, typically are satisfied when the man meets her expectations. However, if the man is contributing less than desired, she will generally be dissatisfied and may feel that the division is unfair. So, if you and your wife are disputing over who should do the dishes, why don’t you help her out and do the dishes, no matter how hard your day at work was. In reality, you should be willing to talk about your expectations together. Taking the time to talk about such conflicts, understand one another, and adjust your various workloads can work wonders.

Men sometimes feel jealous that they do not form that same kind of “instant-bond” that women get when the baby arrives. Fathers, understand that your wife has been carrying around that baby for nine months, feeling it grow, stretch, and kick against her. She has been getting attached to the baby for those nine months. The moment that baby is born, your pregnancy begins. You now get to hold, carry, touch and nurture your child so that you can start forming that bond.

Most of all, know that you are not alone in your adventure into fatherhood. There are plenty of resources, such as fathering, parenting, or prenatal classes (Links go to classes available in Manitoba Canada). It can help to sign up for a class to to better prepare yourself. There are also other people who have been where you are who can help you. You just need to ask.

What are some things that you wish you had known before having a baby? What are some things you wish your spouse had known before having a baby?



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