by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.
There are many roles we play in life. None is more important than being a parent. No matter what job you do or career you have, believe it or not, you are not irreplaceable. But as a father and a husband your "role" is unique and one-of-a-kind.
As men, we are raised to believe that our jobs are the greatest contribution we can make in life. As young boys we are taught that competition and winning are the way we define our self-worth. Relationships, caring for others, those are the things girls do. Being autonomous and independent, not needing anyone, is how to "be a man."
Being committed to one's family is not an easy task. It takes great courage to understand the needs of others as well as your own. It is not possible to remain complacent as the new responsibilities of fatherhood push us to greater depths of caring and attachment and the feelings of responsibility increase. We can choose to flee. We can abandon our families either physically or emotionally. Otherwise, we can try to understand that our new role as a father calls us to develop another side of our nature. We need to uncover our ability to value the day to day routines of family life that are rooted in our relationships with our partners and children.
It is not just a sentimental thought that fathers are needed by their children. Current research shows that fathers play an important role in the development of his children. Both boys and girls show significantly better academic and social development based on the amount of time their fathers are involved in their daily lives.
It is a life skill to balance family life and work demands. It takes time to understand both your own needs and that of your baby's and wife. In the seventh month of parenthood you can begin to notice how much effort it takes to be there as a dad. You've probably had more than a few sleep deprived nights under your belt by now. Someone, either your baby, you or your wife has been sick at least once. Sorting out the chores, the checkbook and trying to find a few minutes for yourself are all challenges faced by new fathers. Just as your baby continues to grow and develop so do you. In the seventh month of fatherhood your patients should be tested! Be kind and understanding, to your self. Know that it will take time to develop the patients you need to manage all the new changes you are still encountering as you grow and develop as a father.
Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 7th month of fatherhood.
For your baby:
- Mobility in every form is foremost now. Watch to see how you baby tosses and turns, pushes with their arms and try's to move around.
- He may even be able to hold a bottle.
- Babies at this age like to watch things fall.
For your wife/partner:
- With your wife, put your baby on a blanket and watch him "do his thing." Talk about how your baby is become more active and interested in the world around him.
- Find a Sunday morning to go out to breakfast and have a leisurely time together.
- Find a baby sitter so you can be alone for at least 2 hours.
- Walk around your block by yourself. Think about how your father was a parent at 7 months.
- What would you like to do different from your dad as a father? In what ways would you like to be a parent like your dad?
- If you have a brother who has children call him and ask him what he has enjoyed and what he has struggled with as a dad.
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.