by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.
In your eleventh month of fatherhood it is probably hard to remember what life was like without your baby! Your life as a family and a father is the center of all your decisions and day to day activity. Your baby continues to grow into the world around him. There is a good chance he is beginning to stand and even cruise or trying to walk. Your baby's mobility is accompanied by your need to keep a closer eye on him. As he explores the world around him, he will find things and put them directly into his mouth.
Now is a good time to reflect on how being a father has affected every aspect of your life. Be courageous and think about both the positive and negatives about being a dad. The dads I have worked with in my groups feel that the change in sexuality in their relationship is the most profound change in the first year of parenting. The redefinition of the sexuality for a couple may take you into a more intimate relationship with each other although the sexuality may be less.
For us as men intimacy is defined in terms of our sexuality. If you can begin to talk about how you feel about the change in your sexuality with your wife a new dimension in your relationship can begin. In our culture, talking about sex is very difficult for many men. If you can begin to discuss sex it can often lead to a greater depth of communication in many other matters.
Since your baby was born you have had a constant stream of adjustments to make. There is no handbook for fatherhood. Our training as dad's is "on the job." We often don't even know till months later why or how we got through some of those early months of fatherhood. At eleven months we are coming up for a little air, and can look back and see that "being there" for our wife and child had been one of our greatest challenges!
I encourage you talk with your partner about what your experience has been like. Perhaps you are feeling lonely for your wife attention and affection. Many dads see what a great mom their wife is and how responsive she can be to her baby's needs and wish their wife were more responsive to them. You may need to make time to see if you and your wife can quit being parents for a few hours and be a couple again.
Moving back into, "couples relationship," is the task of the eleventh month of fatherhood. You have defined yourselves around your child's needs and now it is important to begin to look at your relationships not just as parents but as partners too. See if you can take the lead and ask your wife/partner how she wants the two of you to grow as a couple as you approach your first year of parenting.
Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 11th month of fatherhood.
For your baby:
- Your baby will probably enjoy being danced about and sung too. He will enjoy watching other kids play.
- Get him a ball and other rolling toys. Stacking toys are a good bet at this time.
For your wife/partner:
- Ask your partner how she feels your relationship should develop as you approach your first year of parenthood. Be specific about your needs for sex, time for yourself, time to be a couple. Remember it is difficult to balance all the competing needs of being partners, being a family, and working.
- See if you and your wife can find a weekly activity to do together. Something that you can continue over time and that you both look forward to.
- Write a list, just for yourself, of the positive and negative feelings about your first eleven months of fatherhood. Allow your self permission to see all the changes you have gone through have not been easy.
- Begin to think about you baby's first birthday and what friends you want to be there for you!
Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood. Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.
Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.