What should a new dad expect when he and his wife bring a new baby home? Is he to sit idly by while Mom does her nurturing, feeding, and caring for the newborn? Is he to be her servant bringing supplies to her for every conceivable situation? What does he do?
Gone are the days when Dad earns a paycheck to support the family and does little else. Dad is no longer allowed to work all day and watch sports all night while his wife brings him a cold beer in between cooking dinner and raising the kids. Yes those stereotypes are mostly gone even in my home state of Arkansas. Believe it or not most of us bought shoes back in the 90’s and tried to get with the program.
When I became a dad for the first time over a year ago I had every intention of being an involved father. I was going to do everything that the baby needed. I would not sit idly by.
Then when we actually got home with our beautiful little boy, Braden, I was afraid. I wasn’t sure if I could change a dirty diaper. I had never done it before, and frankly, any man who changes other kid’s diapers before he has a child of his own weirds me out a little. There was circumcision care and smelly yellow baby poop to deal with. I thought I would just sit it out until better days arrived.
At about this time I got my first lesson on being an involved father. It is difficult to care for a newborn sometimes with all the lack of sleep and constant feeding. As a Dad we should know that our partners in parenting need our support. They need to know that we are there and capable of doing anything that needs to be done. They can rest easier when they have an equal partner in all the baby duties.
Furthermore, I think my wife was considering stabbing me in the eye for lack of support. If for no other reason self-preservation seemed to push me towards being more involved.
As time went on I was passive about other things as well. I didn’t give Braden a bath for a long time. My wife, Arica, urged me to try it out. She urged me to take a larger role in Braden’s care. She was very nice about it, but she was trying to tell me that if I didn’t do more things with him we wouldn’t ever build that connection between us.
That is my point in all this. Being an involved father is not only helpful to your children, but it is a huge blessing to your life as well. Since I finally got comfortable I have tried to do as much with Braden as possible. After I get home from work is my time. Braden and I play. I usually give him a bath and help with the bedtime routine as well. All this is good stuff. Any time spent with your child is a bonding time. It’s a time that they grow closer to you, and what parent doesn’t want that.
As our children grow we should keep this same outlook on parenting. They won’t need us to change diapers or give them a bath, but they will always need us whether they admit it or not. As Braden grows I plan to be there to share his interests and hobbies. I plan to be there to help with homework or to take him to various appointments. Showing Braden how much I love him in every action I take will do nothing but prepare him to be a better person and better father of his own some day.
Being involved with your kids in a caring and loving way is the best gift you can give them as a dad, and it is also the best gift you can give yourself.