Beyond Diaper Changes
Congratulations on the birth of your Baby and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting! In the past, most of the responsibility for caring for your newborn – from feeding to diaper-changing to rocking = would fall pretty much exclusively on one parent. But today, that picture has changed considerably – and to my mind, all for the better. In a Harris Interactive Poll, 80% of men between the age 20 and 39 said a work schedule that allows family time is more important than challenging work or high salary.
Today, in fact, societal pressures are leading more companies to offer flexible schedules and paternal leave. As a pediatric nurse practitioner and the father of two wonderful children, I can attest to the desire of men to become more involved in their babies’ lives – right from the beginning. Make no mistake. It’s important to make the effort. Here are some very good reasons why. Dads start to really feel the joy of parenting when they begin to participate in the care of their newborns.
Given an opportunity to spend time with and care for a child from birth, a man is more likely to develop an attachment and a sense of commitment to that baby and form a bond that lasts a lifetime. It is known that children benefit in profound ways from having both male and female role models in their lives as they grow up. Moms may need to take a step back to allow this to happen, acknowledge that babies are fairy resilient and then let father and baby develop their own unique relationship. And as moms and dads learn about parenting their new baby together, communication and understanding of each other will grow, along with trust and confidence. In today’s world of the Internet and many ways to access information, many of the sources of advice are directed to moms. But that is changing as dads begin to write more articles on the fatherly art. The following tips and reminders can help all of the men in a child’s life – be they dads, granddads, uncles, cousins or friends — stay on track and feel confident:
■ Fatherhood is a craft and can be learned like anything else. Babies develop along fairy predictable lines and you’ll see how skill build upon skill as you play and spend time together. There are many helpful internet resources, articles and books about good fathering.
■ Actively make your relationship with your child the number one priority in your life. Develop strategies to spend both quality and quantity time with your baby.
■ Allow yourself to express your emotions and affections daily and know that your baby will thrive on your affection.
■ Develop special traditions and rituals. there don’t have to cost a lot of money or be elaborate. think in terms of bringing in the morning paper together or taking a ride each Sunday to the local bakery – just the two of you. Children cherish sharing simple, day-to-day activities and carry those memories into adulthood.
By Richard “Ric” Ricciardi
President of the National Assotiation of Pediatric Nurse Practioners (NAPNAP)