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Getting a Father to Help More with the Baby

By Drs. Rick and Jan Hanson

  • Sometimes you've just got to assert yourself. Keep remembering that you're doing so for the sake of your child, and that fairness is on your side. Don't be afraid to be blunt, like: "How would you feel about someone at work who doesn't pull his weight? Or someone who promises to help but keeps avoiding it?"

  • Ask third parties, such as your OB-GYN, birth educator, or trusted family friend to give him a "second opinion" about how important it will be to the baby (and to you and the marriage!) for him to be really involved and helpful.

Once the Baby Arrives

  • Have confidence in his fundamental ability to be a parent. Hundreds of studies have shown that a father is just as able to parent with love and skill as a mother.

  • Encourage him. Be supportive (though not patronizing) if he is learning a new skill or doing something uncomfortable. You could self-disclose about ways you, too, have occasionally felt a little klutzy.

  • Acknowledge him. Admit it when his way worked even though it was different from yours, or when you learned something from him. Emphasize what you appreciate about his parenting rather than what you wish were different.

  • Understand the whole picture before jumping in. Otherwise, you might make a mistake.

  • Don't micro-manage. Don't be controlling, dogmatic, or self-righteous about small matters. That way, you'll be more credible when you discuss the big ones, and your partner will probably feel less defensive. If he puts an orange top and purple pants on the baby, maybe you should just smile to yourself and let it go.

  • When you do offer suggestions, be respectful and specific. Give a positive idea of what he could do rather than what he should not do. Try to filter out any implicit criticisms or commands in what you say.

  • It's alright for you to take the lead. He is probably entering a flow of activities that you've been managing, and he's just being a good team player when he asks you, the quarterback, what the play is. It's OK to tell him at the time what you'd like him to do. Later on, you could talk about similar situations in the future and figure out what he could do in them without you having to say anything.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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