Happy Father’s Day!

fa·ther
/ˈfäT͟Hər/ noun: a man in relation to his child or children.

Father’s Day: It may not get as much hoopla and hype as Mother’s Day, it is still important to recognize dads, father-figures, grandfathers, uncles and moms who may for various reasons, be both mom and dad, on this day.  So what does it mean to be a Dad?

As a pediatrician, many times, whether I have a new mom or a mother of a teen in my office, fathers often feel that they are not the primary parent. And while the Dads in my office have not given birth nor breastfeeding, their role is very important, but often overlooked.  In the postpartum period, I see new mothers who are in their fog of exhaustion, feeding and changing diapers that they often don’t realize they can ask their partner for help.  And many times, it’s not that we are unable to ask for help, we just may not always know what we need help with!?!

I try to tell the Dads how they can help my Moms: how and when to pump, so Dad can also feed the baby.  This will not only to allow Mom to rest, but this gives Dad one-on-one bonding time with their newborn.  Dads can also do skin-to-skin, which is so vital and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that amazing baby smell J  I often tell Moms that it is ok for them to give the baby to Dad, and leave the house to take some time off for them.  Did you know that 1 hour is only 4% of your entire day?!? So I encourage women to give themselves that time to just be alone, where you don’t have to worry about a stroller, wearing a  baby wrap or a packing a diaper bag.

Not all men know how hard it is to stay home all day with a baby while they’re at work—often times it’s harder to stay at home. At work, you get time to eat lunch, use the bathroom and have some adult conversation!  I remember when I was home with 2 children under 2 (both in diapers!) and I would jump at my husband to tell me about his day, the ailments of his patients and to share the procedures he performed that day! The goal is to involve the father as much as possible, even when this may seem very difficult, especially during those early days.  Dads, take the baby out for a walk so mom can get some needed and quiet rest.  Believe me, it can be very hard to sleep when you hear the baby and/or toddler in the next room.

But Mamas, it’s important that you ALLOW Dad to do things in his own way.  I often tell parents that Moms and Dads do things differently—and that is OK! But you can’t interfere and impose your methods to him–there is a certain degree of relinquishing control. He will change that diaper differently and he may cuddle with the baby while watching basketball and that is ok.  The important thing is that Dad is bonding with the baby, they are learning each other and mom is getting some time to herself, whether to sleep, eat, take a walk or meet up with some friends.  I often tell parents that my husband will spend 2 hours in the grocery store, where I am in and out in less than 30 minutes.  But considering he is the chef in our house, that is perfectly fine with me 🙂

It is okay to share childcare duties and delegate household chores—there are no set male and female roles when it comes to caring for a child.  Because all that matters is that our children are surrounded by unconditional and constant love.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, father-figures and mamas who serve as fathers! Enjoy your Day, and take some time for you.

 

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