- The Fam
This post is part of a parenting series focused on raising happy, resilient children. Read more about this series HERE.
Sorry for the delay on this guys! Lots of stuff going on right now.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the Happy Kids series, last time I wrote about my new nephew and his parents. Also, I listed 5 newborn parenting tactics that I felt made all the difference in raising happy kids, and wrote about the first, establishing a flexible schedule. Here they are:
5) Falling In Love
This week I’m going to move on to…
So here is a piece of advice…before you attempt to raise another person as a couple. Go get a puppy (and don’t get pregnant while your raising your puppy, like we did, that would defeat the purpose of the exercise).
Don’t you think it is absolute craziness that there is no trial period or test that we have to pass to become parent? It takes a serious process of trial and error to figure everything out, and in the mean time, it’s a real live child that has to put up with all the non-sense!
In all seriousness, nothing you adopt, do, or read can really prepare you for becoming a parent. It’s overwhelmingly wonderful, scary, exhausting, and not to mention a huge life-style change.
When I think about it though, for the most part we did a great job as first time parents– It’s funny how that goes. That being said, if I could go back and offer coaching in any parenting area during that first year, it would have been related to communication. We had Raine in our first year of marriage, and although we had known each other since junior high, we still had a lot to learn when it came to communicating. We were newly weds dealing with wacky pregnancy hormones and the high-demands of a newborn, it was a steep learning curb to say the least.
The best/worst example I can give was when Raine was only weeks old and I had developed my first case of Mastitis (a breast infection)…yea breastfeeding! I had let Husband know that I was not feeling well and was going to stay in bed with Raine.
Well, things went from not feeling well to SCARY real quick, and I had no idea what was going on. I did know that I had just had a baby, and this kind of pain was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before…actually I was pretty sure that I was going to die. My boob was on fire, I was on fire, body aches and shaking. Raine was laying down beside me, depending on me, and I was passing in and out of delirium from pain and fever.
Where did Husband disappear to you ask? He had retreated to our creepy basement and was playing guitar, blasting a song he had recorded over and over. To really play up the atmosphere of this scene, the floor in our room was literally bouncing up and down with sound waves. I did not have the energy to scream for help, nor would he have heard me. When I was alert I was really mad and upset. Not to mention I was horrified that I could not take care of my baby. I was thinking, “How could he be so oblivious?…He hasn’t checked on us in a really long time”, at least that’s what it seemed like in my fear.
This is how he was so oblivious to my pain and desperation, I had told him that it was okay that he go chill out. He had always done it before Raine was born, and I hadn’t been asking for much help with her. What else was he supposed to do? How else was he supposed to know? This was all new to him too.
Boy have we come a long way. It’s actually really weird thinking about that event because something like that would never happen now. We have learned a good rhythm with time. Husband shares all parenting responsibilities and knows how to support me in my mom stuff and I know how to support him in his dad stuff. But we have to ask each other for help, communicate our needs and talk about expectations and not thinking that the other “should just know”.
I know that this is sounding like martial advice vs. parenting advice, but I can’t emphasis enough that your child will depend on the strength and security of your relationship for the rest of their lives. It is the foundation of their happiness. Just think, having two people in their life that they can depend on makes the world half as scary, and provides twice as much security.
Children can only benefit from having parents that equally nurture them and thoughtfully make parenting decisions together. This also allows for limited separation anxiety when mom has to take off for a bit and makes it SO much easier when other family members care for baby.
So, no matter how hard it is to do mom’s…you need to hand off your baby to your husband/partner. I’m not saying that you have to completely ditch your precious babe but you should really welcome opportunities to share. Let go of some of that control and fear, because we are not meant to do this on our own. We need rest, physically and mentally, to be able to fully care for another human being. A happy household is one where Dad feels comfortable taking over baby duties, and when available, shares equal responsibility. Need I say more?
And in your sharing don’t forget grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends. As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child. So mom’s, get some rest and allow your infant to start building bonds with those who love them and will continue to support them throughout their lives. It will make for infants who grow into well-rounded children.
Something that is not considered enough in parenting is the effect of working as a team in a family. So often adults feel that good parenting = everything revolving around the children. Having a sense of teamwork in your family is a special gift you give your child. As they grow they will start to recognize that they are apart of something larger than themselves, a family. And the security of that knowledge, knowing they have people around them that support them, and the meaning they will find in serving as a contributing member of that team will be priceless to them.
So remember, learning to work as a team from the beginning can be a game changer when parenting and raising happy children. Be self-aware and proactive as parents from the get-go, working to communicate effectively and finding a rhythm to your teamwork in the daily care of your child.
Here are some extra thoughts and some tips:
- Parenthood is a huge lifestyle transition. Be mindful of each other, speak up and talk it out. There may not be answers, but just listening to each other and serving as a sounding board is healing.
- The stress of caring for a newborn is well-known on mothers, but fathers also have good reason to be stressed. Fathers worry about their wives, they worry about being a good dad, experience their own hormonal changes, and they often feel a strong urge to provide for their new family.
- At first, when babies are either sleeping or attached to their mom for nursing, it’s easy to feel like there is not much for Dad to do, but get creative. Dad can share other responsibilities, making sure that mom is taken care of while she cares for baby, make dinner, do some laundry, change diapers, play with babe in-between feedings, just jump in!
- Moms, you will always have a special place in your baby’s heart, but so should Dad.
- Take the time to sit down together and talk about your hopes and expectations when it comes to parenting and each other’s roles within parenting. Better to be proactive than wait to find out when something goes wrong!
- Don’t forget to express appreciation for each other and stand in awe of this new little person in your life. Often, parenting can bring out something wonderful in your spouse that you have never experienced before. This is a special time in your lives, let it bring you closer together and find meaning in your joint responsibility to care for your sweet baby.
Anyone else have stories to share about communication or teamwork from when they were new parents? I would love to read them, good or bad! It’s always nice to know we are not alone in this crazy parenting thing! Please share in the comments section.
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