Having a new baby in the house creates a lot of changes and stress. No matter how happy you are with the new addition, the transition is difficult. It can be made even more difficult if your baby’s father is not an equal participant in child-rearing.
If you are struggling to get your child’s father to help with the new addition, there are some things you can do to help him transition into his role as a father.
Let him know what you need.
If you are hoping that your partner will instinctively know how to parent, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It may seem unfair that you, as a mom, are expected to know what you need to do to keep your baby safe and happy, and the house is running smoothly, and your partner seems oblivious. While you can rail against the injustice of it all, you are not likely to get much relief acting that way. Instead, take a pragmatic view of the situation to determine what you need to do to get the help you need.
Simple conversations don’t always seem simple.
If you have a decent relationship with your baby’s father, a simple conversation may be all that it takes to get the ball rolling. He may not realize that you are struggling. Let him know that you need his help and participation, and then give him some examples of exactly what he could do.
For new moms who are in strained relationships, the conversation maybe a little more difficult. Remind your baby’s father that he is an equal partner to parenting the baby, regardless of what is going on between the two of you. Again, assign some particular tasks that you need help with. If you are not living together, set up a firm plan for visitation, so you know that you will have specific times when you can recharge. Do not let yourself fall into the trap of allowing him to come and go as he pleases. Set firm boundaries early in your parenting journey about the level of flexibility you allow.
Are you trying to have things done the way you want?
One reason that fathers are often disengaged when you have a small baby is that they feel inept. They look at how you settle into motherhood and assume that it is something they can’t replicate. In truth, there is no reason they cannot be equal participants in all parts of parenting.
To become proficient and develop confidence, fathers need the opportunity to practice. Even if it seems like it would be quicker, simpler, or easier to do something yourself, let your baby’s father do it. Keep your opinions to yourself. As long as he is not compromising your baby’s safety, let him do things his way. Constantly being admonished or lectured to will not yield the results you want.
Accept where you are.
You may have envisioned a particular scenario while you were pregnant. Maybe the visions of a happy, peaceful family you imagined are disappearing, and the more harsh reality is setting in. One thing is for certain; if you continue to cling to a wish that isn’t happening, you will miss out on the great things that are.
Empower and encourage your baby’s father to participate. Give him the freedom to do things his way, as long as they are safe, and let him know if he needs to pick up some slack. If you have done everything possible to communicate to him that he needs to help more with the baby, and he refuses to do so, there is no real way to force the issue.
Continuing to hope for change in the face of his refusal will cause more frustration and pain than doing the work yourself. If you find that you cannot count on your baby’s father for help and support, look for others in the community, such as other women with young children, who can provide a community in these early years.