A day late with my Father’s Day post, but really, do we only honor fathers or mothers just on that one day? That’s the commercial spin. In our families we acknowledge the accomplishments of parenting every single day; through mutual support, saying thank you, and in general recognition of the fact that as father and mother together we’ve brought these children into the world. It is a shared responsibility and a shared joy.
I was fortunate to have a husband who believed in being involved in the day to day tasks of childrearing; in 1981 that was not necessarily the norm. Today I think it’s almost expected that fathers are involved in sharing the task of raising children equally, or at least much of the time. Let us honor that and applaud the progress made over the last several decades.
If you’re in the other category-of reluctant dads, I have a few tips to help transition fathers into a more involved role:
Even in the early stages of pregnancy make sure dad participates in the planning. You’re probably both choosing the name but go further to have mutual decisions about the nursery, picking the pediatrician, going to OB visits, and other prenatal activities. People tend to shower attention on a pregnant woman and dad can feel a little left-out.
Suggest that at least one baby shower, if you’re having several, be for couples. Dads need to be valued during the pregnancy and made active participants. When setting up baby registries make selections as a couple. Ask your partner what items he’d like included on the list and set up the expectation of mutual involvement.
After the baby is born it can be difficult for dads to feel included. Breastfeeding is a woman’s job, but he can bring the baby to you for night feedings and spend cuddling time after feedings are over. Of course, dads can change diapers and give bathes; make sure you communicate your desire to share these tasks, or bonding moments if you want to view them as such. We had a routine when our kids were little of alternating bath and reading time.
If you purchase or receive a baby carrier suggest that you both take turns carrying baby around. I see men with babies in carriers frequently and it always gives me a warm feeling. I suggest inviting because I think we as moms, and society to a larger degree, view moms as the primary caregivers. That is a huge disservice to dads and granddads. I can remember special moments with my father; he was a good cook and he taught me to make gravy. Though it seems like a small that, that memory has stuck with me over the years, I was probably only about 12 years old but I still think about it 43 years later.
I realize that not all of us have picture book memories of our childhood and many of us are divorced and might have strained relationships with the ‘ex’. That can present a greater challenge for honoring a father or a mother, but our children still have 2 parents. They need to be able to see and understand the value in both parents; when they’re younger we have to provide that opportunity for them. If you can, take the time to remember the father of your child in some way. It will mean a lot to dad, to your children and to you. Sometimes a simple thank you for helping me bring such a special child into the world is all you need to say.
What ways do you honor dads in your family?Connect with Little Butterfly Kiss website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook