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The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Parenting - When 2 become 3

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

We are looking at what happens when a young couple has there first child, How the relationship changes between a couple dads fears, (e.g. breast feeding) the bond created between mother and baby is so strong dad may feel a little bit less needed. And how mum can incorporate dad more.

Why is this topic important?
We have a culture of fathers being kept in a spectator role. Even the covers of books on birth and infancy reflect this 'mother and baby only' mindset.

Fathers often experience being in a spectator position at birth and when the baby is young - hard to get involved later. 
(Research shows that fathers who are actively involved at the birth are generally more involved in the child's life and also take a greater part in the household chores).

Men have a different way of interacting with babies, which enriches the bay's experience.
So everyone benefits when dad's involved - including long term benefit for society.

What can we do that would encourage active male involvement?
A word to prospective fathers:

. Get informed, Internet, Books aimed at fathers
. If the ante-natal classes aren't meeting your needs, say what would be helpful for you.
. Chat with other new dads.  (It's important to have space for guy-to-guy discussion - where you can share how it REALLY is for you without worrying about what the girls will think of you)
. create opportunities to get 'hands on' experience with little babies, before yours arrives. (e.g. spend time with friends who are already on the 'baby train')
. Be Realistic: Realise that your new born is going to be a small fussy little creature - not the bouncy smiley baby you see on all the ads.

How can new mums encourage their men to get involved?

There will be too much going on for you both during the birth to discuss what you would like then. And in the first few months you're both going to be in a state of shock and sleep deprivation!

. Discuss together how you would both like your man to be involved before the birth.
. Let him learn by doing. A man has his own style with a baby - he won't do it your way!
. Only give advice if you are seriously concerned for the baby's safety.
Women think they are being helpful when they give advice - but men tend to read it as criticism.
. It might seem harder to let him know - but you really need someone to support you!
. Also have in a prominent place an up to date list your baby's schedule and any important details regarding feeding, usual rest times and bedtime routines etc. If there is any mini crisis that you can't be there - it is a great help to have this information on hand.

When babies are get a bit older they can go through a very clingy stage and want only mum?  What should mums do in this situation?

That's why it's important to establish a strong bond early.
Even so they might go through a phase of 'mummy only'. This won't last - later on you get to be 'king pin'!