The Crucial Role Of The New DAD
Loving and caring for our babies is the most important thing we can do. Our babies of today are the adolescents of tomorrow, who will grow up to be the adults who influence the world we live in. It is when they are a baby, that we lay the foundation of who they will become.
When a baby is first born, the brain is developing at a rapid rate. It is at this time that you teach your baby about the world, and about relationships. If these pathways are not laid down in the first months and year, of a baby’s life – that part of the baby’s brain never develops. This is the part of the brain that teaches us how to care for other people,…. How to have a positive relationship with other people. The most important teachers the baby has, are it’s main care givers – it’s Mom and Dad
In my years working both as a Midwife, and as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse, I had always included the Dad, and kept both parents informed about matters that affected their baby. It was only when I was putting together my fun educational video for first time parents (I had realized that many parents were actually looking for information like this, and it was not available), that I decided to break with tradition and film the Dad and a Male Midwife demonstrating how to care for a new baby. I decided to check what research had been done on the Role of the Father to find out what the Scientific Research showed about how important Dad really is.
Of course I knew that Dads are important – but I didn’t realize how important they are, how their involvement, or lack of involvement will have an impact on the long-term outcome of their infant/child. I thought that a “super duper- mother” could make up for any lacking father. This is not the case at all!! It is so important that the Dad is involved – right from the start – and in a positive way. I really believe that if every first time Mom and Dad knew about this, they would be doing everything they could to ensure that their baby is going to have the best chance in life.
Another thing that I believe new parents are unaware of – is how the birth, and subsequent effect of living with a new baby impacts on the life and lifestyle of new parents – this is when your relationship is put to it’s greatest test. If your relationship does not survive – your child becomes a child from a broken family, and even though that is painful for the adults involved – the children are the one’s that suffer most. A report back in the 1990’s called CODE BLUE (Bureau of the Census – Washington DC) found that “Never before has one generation of American Teenagers been less healthy, less cared for, or less prepared for life” – we forget that all these kids start out as babies, and with so many relationships breaking down, with or without divorce, many of these children are the result of broken families. A family breakdown, means that your child is not living with his/her dad.
For the child’s sake – it is crucial that we see the relationship that the Dad has with his child, as independent from the relationship that the Mom and Dad have. If the child’s relationship is dependent only on the Mom and Dad staying together, that child will face many disadvantages.
Your baby’s best chance in life – is to have a Mom and DAD who are working together as a team taking care of them. Some parents think that the Dad only needs to be involved when the baby is older and can catch the ball!! – this could not be further from the truth. From an emotional and psychological point of view – the younger we are when we have an experience – the greater the impact it has on us – even though when we grow up – we may not remember it!!! We take these experiences with us in our subconscious brain – which is what influences our whole lives. Even as adults, our Mums and Dads are in our heads, even when we’re thousands of miles away from them – their voices, their beliefs about us, are constantly playing … like a tape-recorder, never ending … influencing our beliefs about ourselves … even if those beliefs are false!!!!! … influencing our lives. This is how powerful you … the Dad…and you, the Mum.. are.
So don’t think that your baby is a little blob just lying there … babies are like little sponges… soaking up everything around them, and especially the feelings and the atmosphere around.. the way you speak to them, touch them … your loving touch…it does not go unnoticed …. It is stored forever, and affects how they feel about themselves, it affects their belief about the world …. Whether it is a safe world, whether they are special.
What the Research shows is that “Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behaviour, and avoid high-risk behaviours such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers” (National Fatherhood Initiative 2004)
That is the positive effect a father can have on his child.
The negative effect that an uninvolved, unloving dad has is:
“Boys with absent fathers are statistically more likely to be violent, get hurt, get into trouble, do poorly in schools and be members of teenage gangs in adolescence. Fatherless daughters are more likely to have low self-esteem, to have sex before they really want to, get pregnant, be assaulted and not continue their schooling” (Steve Biddulph Parenting Author Raising Boys) Available through.
My experience has shown me that every first time Mom and Dad want the best for their baby, so how come it doesn’t always work out like that. Some new Moms adopt an attitude that they will be the one who does the learning, and they will then pass on to the Dad what he needs to know. This is in no-one’s best interests – least of all, her baby.
A new mum does not realize what huge demands are going to be placed on her, with her baby needing feeding throughout the day and night (Mums tend to carry out this role mostly because of breast-feeding) This is not the time to be taking on the role of Dad Educator as well – the Mum herself needs time to rest so that she can give her baby the ultimate care she wants to give, so an eager, involved Dad who is becoming competent, and then confident with caring for his baby – is a huge asset. He is also able to start developing his important relationship with his baby. Working together with caring for your baby – makes it easier all round.
A word here too about boy babies – don’t forget he will grow up one day, and be one of the fathers of the future – so your influence continues through generations!! !
Parenting Author Steve Biddulph also highlights the fact that parenting as a team can create a deeper bond between partners.
Loving and caring for our babies is the most important thing we can do. Working on having a healthy/functional relationship with our partner is also crucial for yourself and for your family. The books, and research that has been done, particularly in the USA can be pretty depressing when you find out what happens when babies are ignored and emotionally neglected …… we all pay the price as it affects the world we live in. If you are looking for further information on this subject, the suggested reading list at the end of this section – will give you masses of “food for thought”
Fortunately, the word is out …….Babies need their Dad’s positive involvement – right from the start.
Research is showing that New Dads in 2005 – want information directed to them, on how to bathe, settle, and dress their infant.
These guys aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty!!! They accept their parenting role with responsibility, and they want to be involved with all aspects of caring for their baby.
Dad’s can’t breast-feed (yet! ) …. but there is so much else they can do. Massaging your baby is beneficial for your baby – and is great for bonding – and it’s easy to do.
Fathering is one of the greatest challenges you will ever face – and it requires an ongoing commitment. The rewards are happy well adjusted children, who love being around you, kids you have a great relationship with and who look up to you. Parenting as a team strengthens your relationship with your partner and builds a strong functional family. Remember, this is your family you are creating… These rewards can last a life time – after all….Dads are forever
© Ros Vroom (Reg Midwife/Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse) www.dadstheword.com