Building The “Father – Baby” Relationship!
While the relationship between the mother and her baby is formed even from the womb, the baby being born with a great attachment towards the mother`s heartbeats or voice, the one between the father and newborn need to be developed with lots of attention and patience, because now the basis of the later relationship are built.
Of course, there are studies regarding the development of a faster and more lasting relationship between the father and child and, also, there are methods and techniques through which these can be applied. All that you need to know for now is that the “father – baby” relationship isn`t in any competition with the one between the mother and baby, but rather a complementary one, meant to cover the male role of the family. The competitive approach, often found in questions like “Who do you love more – mommy or daddy?” is a wrong one and may prove to create behavioral deviations in the future. The “mother & baby” relationship is a natural, spontaneous one, while the one with the father is built with the purpose of support for the relationship between the mother and child.
Table of Contents
- 1 Father`s Role in the Child`s Life
- 2 Identity Crisis of the Man Who Becomes a Father
- 3 Accepting the Status of Paternity
- 4 Ways of Building the Father – Baby Relationship
- 4.1 Full Involvement in Pregnancy & Communication with “Belly”
- 4.2 Presence in Birth
- 4.3 Power of Touch
- 4.4 Feeding the Baby
- 4.5 Change the Baby`s Diaper
- 4.6 Take Part at your Child`s Sleep Ritual
- 4.7 It`s Daddy`s Turn to this Night Shift
- 4.8 Easing your Child`s Tears
- 4.9 Playing with the Baby
Father`s Role in the Child`s Life
If the mother`s role in the child`s life is extremely important, the father`s role has a special status in his development as well. This one becomes a model for the child even during childhood. While the mother offers the feeling of warmth and comfort, the father is the one playing a protective role.
At first, the father is perceived by the baby as a “second mother.” However, while he grows and starts knowing the world around him, the father`s figure gets his own nuances, contributing primarily in the strengthening the feeling of protection. Therefore, the father gets the value of a representative for the family, the child`s and mother`s image in front of the others, through him manifesting their own desire of prestige.
The father represents authority, having an essential role in forming the child`s morality and conscience. Thus, adopting a wrong parental style by the father or a family role that is wrong may lead to unwanted effects, such as a poor morality.
The first point of reference by which the child is self-assesses, when he gains this ability, is his father. That`s why is essential as a father of newborn to adopt a correct role in the family, even if the child is very young and seem that isn`t able to understand. This one perceives the vocal tones, tension or anger even from the first months of life, and this contributes at his development.
Identity Crisis of the Man Who Becomes a Father
Today young and alone, tomorrow married and waiting for a child, and the day after tomorrow a father and model for a new human being; all these changes and new responsibilities can be rather hard on the man`s shoulders. The identity crisis of the man who becomes a father was signaled for the first time by psychoanalysis, when there were questions raised on some subjects such as “paternal doubt,” “archaic refutation” or “Oedipus complex. Of course, psychoanalysis was proven as being overstretched; however, surely in time in part it was right, meaning the tension that the father of a newborn carries on his shoulders.
Being absorbed by the concern for her baby, the mother rarely find time to spend with the other parent, the father seeing himself left aside. Therefore, it`s not surprising in some situations to be a state of jealousy that appear for the newborn, who “stole” the attention and care of the wife. However, a crisis doesn`t appear only for this reason. In the father`s mind, with such a jealousy grown, there`s an entire conflict between this negative feeling and the love that he feels he needs to offer to his child. Often, the father is put in the situation to not find his place in the new “couple” of the family (mother – child), and finds it rather difficult to build a relationship with this one.
Read more on 3 Bad Habits Of Children & How To Get Rid Of Them?
So, after taking a look at what`s happening in the father`s mind, we can conclusion that a lot of times we can say with certainty that “paternity” is a status that is hard to accept for him and that, implicitly, the way this process will end, will be at the basis of the formation of a new relationship between the father and his child.
Accepting the Status of Paternity
If you feel the amplitude of this conflict overwhelms you, there are psychotherapies that try to help you exactly in this type of issues. Both couple`s and individual therapy for fathers is a method that can improve family life quite a lot after a child is born, this aiding in resolving the internal conflicts, overcoming the stages of maternal and paternal labor, preventing some familial dysfunctions that may appear due to the little one`s birth.
Although, at first glance, the desire of having a child seems to occur only in women, this exists in men as well, paternity being deeply encrusted in their minds. So, as one of the Buddhist beliefs say, “all that you have to do is remember, because you already know these things.” An advice, that at first seems taken from motivational quotes, it may bring good results if it would be applied by the fathers who just got their first child born. The truth is that each of us, men or women, we deeply have encrusted into us the desire of becoming parents, because the main purpose of a species is survival, and this can be achieved only through offsprings.
So, the first stage in establishing a connection between the father and his child is to accept the idea of paternity, and this can only be accomplished with an open mind and a lot of patience.
Ways of Building the Father – Baby Relationship
Once the paternity is accepted, the next natural step is to try and build a relationship between the father and child. This stage starts during the prenatal period, when the baby is still in the mother`s womb.
Full Involvement in Pregnancy & Communication with “Belly”
The father needs to start consolidating the relationship with the baby even during pregnancy. He can sing or read stories to the “mother`s belly,” touch her belly tummy softly and talk to his future child constantly, so that the baby learn to recognize not only the mother`s voice, but also familiarize with the one of the father.
Full involvement during pregnancy – his presence in ultrasounds, prenatal courses, he contributes in building an affective relationship with the baby.
Presence in Birth
Another way of strengthening the emotional bond between babies and fathers is to participate in the birth process.
It`s already known that the first contact between the mother and baby after birth is essential for strengthening the emotional relationship between them. It wouldn`t hurt for this moment to be shared with the father as well, so that he can also gain from the natural affective attachment that appears immediately after the arrival of the little one.
Let the father hold him in his arms after birth, so the baby can get used with his smell and feel safe even from the first few moments.
Power of Touch
It`s important for the father not to be afraid to hold his baby in his arms, touch him gently and take care of him even from the first few days after birth.
Experts claim that touches and frequent contacts between the father and baby contribute in the formation of the relationship between them. The father can hold him, swing him and bring him closer to his face.
The skin-to-skin contact is just as important as consolidating the relationship between the father and child, just as it helps the development of the affective attachment between the mother and baby.
Feeding the Baby
You can start connecting with your baby by feeding him. Even if the mother is breastfeeding him, you can ask her to prepare a bottle of milk for you to feed him on your own. When the father offers the milk bottle to the newborn, it`s recommended to hold him in his arms to stimulate the feeding position. This allows the little one to sense the father`s smell by body touch as well as through the visual contact with the child. When the mother`s breastfeeding the baby, she holds him close to her chest and looks him directly into his eyes. So, when you offer the milk bottle to the baby, make sure that you hold him in the same position, allowing him to look up directly to you.
Read more on Parents vs. Children: When Teenagers Become Adults!
Change the Baby`s Diaper
It`s possible for you to want for this to be a task that only the mother would do, but changing the diapers is also an activity that would get you closer to your baby, and also gain confidence that you are a skillful father. Even if it can be a little smelly and at the beginning you may feel emotional, you should know that the mother goes through the same stages as well at first, but she knows that the little one depends on her and this makes her skillful in the end. Take her as an example and form a ritual of changing the diapers together with the little one. This may include talking with your baby and making fun faces while you`re doing it.
Take Part at your Child`s Sleep Ritual
In the first few months, the child adapts to the environment, that`s why he needs to have a schedule formed made of breastfeeding sessions, sleep and the baby`s bath. This last part is very important for the little one to learn the difference between night and day. So, dear daddy, choose to be a part of the little one`s sleep routine. Most fathers choose to make the baby`s bath on their own and get very skillful at this, as they have strong arms and big hands that allow them to support the baby. This will make the baby understand that when the father says “it`s time for bath,” you`ll soon need to go to sleep.
It`s Daddy`s Turn to this Night Shift
If you aren`t home during the day to help calming down the sessions of crying related to the usual issues: hunger, the desire of being hold in the arms, changing diapers, colic, etc, you can become a “night saver” when the baby starts crying at night. This would allow you to spend quality time alone with your child and it will also offer the mother a chance to catch a few hours of sleep. Make sure that before going to sleep, the mother left a few milk bottles in the fridge for the feeding night sessions. A baby during the first 3 months consumes milk from 3 to 3 hours at least.
Easing your Child`s Tears
Even if it can become tempting to pass the child to the mother when he starts to cry, make an effort and try your own way of reliving his tears (of course, except when he`s hungry). Try to sing to him, walk with him in your arms (or holding his hand if he`s bigger), swing him gently or offer him his pacifier. No matter the age, the child needs to learn that his mother isn`t the only one who`s able to offer him what he needs.
Read more on Family`s Role in the Child`s Education!
Playing with the Baby
Playing is another secret that fathers take out of their sleeves when it comes to the emotional approach towards their baby.
It`s the most effective way of communicating with the baby and contribute to his development on all levels: emotional, social, physically, etc. – More details!
The father can play with the baby using suitable toys for his age or he may invent all kinds of games with funny faces, gestures or other ideas that he can use to bring a smile on the face of the little one and make him “fall in love” with him.