Encouraging Dad as Your Co-Pilot in Parenting

As a new mom, how much would you pay for an unconditional, live-in support system? 

Most moms would drain the bank for it, but the thing is: you’ve got support on hand and it’s entirely f-r-e-e …Your greatest support person goes by the name DAD and, trust us, he really wants to help us succeed.

At Boot Camp for New Moms, we always encourage moms to embrace Dad’s participation, because it’s a win-win for the whole family. But sometimes, surging hormones and fear of not being in control leads to a kind of maternal tunnel vision and we forget we’ve got a capable partner right by your side.

I turned down help left and right because I wanted to be super mom and do it all myself, but my mom pulled me aside and said ‘He (my husband) is going to stop offering to help you if you keep turning him down … So she said, ‘When he offers to do the bottle or change the diaper, hand him over and let him do it, because he is only going to ask so many times before he stops, and then you will resent him for not asking.
— Veteran Mom

Keeping your spouse front and center as your co-pilot not only allows you to feel supported, but studies show that his involvement benefits your baby in a multitude of ways including intellectual and emotional development.

Children who have benefited from paternal interactions from an early age get on better with their peers, are academically more successful, stay in school longer, use drugs and alcohol less frequently and are less likely to get involved with crime … Fathers who devote quality time to their children give them a far greater chance of growing up to be confident, optimistic, motivated, healthy adults.
— Dr. Lin Day Founder, BabySensory.com

Dad also reaps the benefits from being actively involved. It boosts his confidence and self-esteem, strengthens his bond with his child, and according to Dr. Marcus Goldman, author of The Joy of Fatherhood: The First Twelve Months:

"Not only does it inspire men to take better care of themselves physically, but it also fills them with a sense of purpose that genuinely enhances their psychological well-being."

So, say YES-YES-YES to any opportunity for Dad to get involved, and go out of your way to give him room to participate. (Plus, honestly, how often is passing the buck a good thing?)

5 Tips for Encouraging Dad as Your Co-Pilot

Communicate. Unfortunately, Dad isn’t a mind reader, so be specific about tasks he can do to support you and help manage baby care.

His opinion counts. When making baby-related decisions, ask for your partner’s opinion to keep him involved and allows his unique perspective to bring balance to the decision making process.

Clear a path. Moms, keep the path clear for Dad to get involved. If you’re blocking his involvement (AKA “gatekeeping”), out of fear that he won’t handle things correctly, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your child. If necessary, run errands or take a long shower while he’s with the baby—whatever you can do to give him unfettered Daddy-Baby time.

Task owning. As a routine, have Dad take charge of a baby task and make it all his own. If he’s at work during the day, evening tasks like bath, baby massage, and story reading might be perfect.

Cheering over critiquing: At all costs, do not criticize Dad’s efforts. Like you, he is doing the best he can and learning as he goes, and though his parenting flair may differ from yours, as long as the end goal is achieved—success!

’The more hands on he gets, the more connected he gets.’ That is probably my favorite phrase … The more dad is involved, it’s an upward spiral for him because he feels like, ‘I can do this for the baby! I can calm my baby from crying. I can give my baby a bath,’ or whatever … and it’s really the best for all of you as a family, together.
— Veteran Dad