Top 10 Mistakes by New and Expectant Dads
From criticizing a spouse, to claming up about one's own feelings, there's no shortage of mistakes made by new dads and dads-to-be.
Here's a Top 10 List of New Dad Mistakes and some suggestions on how to make the transition to fatherhood a bit smoother.
1. Criticizing mothering abilities. One of the sure-fire ways to get into an argument, especially in the middle of the night, is to criticize your spouse and what she's doing. By all means, speak up if the child can be hurt. (The same goes in the reverse, by the way.) If you're uncomfortable with what she's doing, save it for the morning or for a time when she's better rested and you and she can discuss the matter calmly. Choose your approach carefully. Try to broach the subject when it will be received well. After all, she may be right, or you both may be right. With parenting, there are often many rights. And you both want what's best for your newborn.
2. Sitting back and letting your spouse do it all. As a dad, one of the worst things you can do is sit back and let your spouse do all the work. You're just setting the groundwork for trouble. Try discussing with her what needs to be done, and instigate those conversations. Most often the women initiates the conversation. If she sees you're interested, she'll value your opinion that much more and feel comforted by the knowledge that she's not in this alone. If you wait too long to get involved, your spouse may resent it.
3. Ignoring signs of depression and anxiety. You are the one who's NOT pregnant. You don't have hormones raging inside of you. You need to watch out for extreme, and sometimes even subtle, changes in your spouse. Look out for signs of depression or high anxiety beyond what might be considered normal for a life-altering event. Studies are now showing depression in women WHILE pregnant, not just after the baby is born. It should also be noted that Post Pardum Depression can sometimes manifest itself with panic attacks. It's not always depression per se.
4. Trying to fix everything. A man's natural tenancy is to "fix" things. But women often want their men to just listen to how they're feeling. They want to be understood and heard. They don't necessarily want you to do anything. They just want to vent. Be the support for your spouse.
5. Ignoring your partner's feelings. If you notice your spouse upset, a bit down or just not herself, the easiest thing to do is to look the other way. Approach her and ask her what's wrong. But be prepared to let it go if she doesn't want to talk about it. Just asking lets her know that you care.
6. Claming up about your own feelings. Men have been called many things, but touchy-feely when it comes to our own feelings and anxieties, is usually not among them. But men do have feelings, fears and anxieties. When it comes to having a baby they typically deal with the financial issues surrounding the new baby. Men also tend to bottle up those feelings fearing that they will overburden their already burdened spouse. It's important men share their feelings, she will most likely feel closer to her spouse for sharing and will also then know she's not the only one with anxiety. The communication will help foster a feeling that you're in this together, and you can get through any challenge together.
7. Losing track of time. Dads to be should be keeping track of time. Dads need to know how far along their spouses are in pregnancy, not just the due-date. Grab a pen and paper and initiate a discussion with your spouse about what she would like to see accomplished and by when. And come up with your own ideas as well. When should the baby's room be painted? When should the furniture be bought? Are there home improvement projects you're trying to get crossed off the list before the little one arrives? Initiate the completion of projects so your spouse doesn't feel like a nag.
8. Playing dumb. Playing into the stereotypes of being a dumb dad especially when it comes to changing a diaper or giving a bottle makes a miserable situation for everyone. And will most certainly make your spouse upset with you. Then when you do interject your opinion, your spouse will likely discount it. If you're not playing, that's even worse. Get educated.
9. Avoiding parenting classes, magazines. How often have you heard that children don't come with manuals? Mothers don't magically know it all either. They usually do a lot of reading and learning. Dads should do the same (interactive DAD is a good place to start, by the way.) Many hospitals also offer Daddy Boot Camps. Check them out. And attend if you are feeling like you have a lot of learn.
10. Pretending you're asleep when the baby awakens at night. Here's a complaint you hear over and over again. Men are "deep sleepers" and women awaken at every noise. Sometimes that's true. More often it's out of choice. Dads need to do their fair share of waking up. If your spouse is breast-feeding, encourage her to pump milk into bottle so you can let her sleep. If there are issues with a bottle and breastfeeding, then dads should at least be as supportive as they can in cleaning up and with housework. And give your spouse a break, literally. If possible, let her sleep in on the weekends and take over the chores. And get her a manicure and pedicure or a spa getaway. If you can't afford that type of luxury, give her a massage yourself--it's free! Keep in mind, even though becoming a father is a BIG adjustment for you, your spouse is also dealing with the physical and mental recovery from pregnancy and labor. And both were probably more physical than she ever imagined they would be.
Taking an active role in raising your child will bring you closer to the your spouse and your newborn. (You don't know how tight you get with the little one during a poopy diaper change or a spit up on your dress shirt.)
These are great memories you'll be creating. Your little one won't remember. But you will. And he or she will feel closer to you because of it.
Welcome to fatherhood.
Glenn Lawrence is editor of the award-winning Interactive DAD Magazine http://www.InteractiveDadMagazine.com, the premier online site for dads updated daily. He's also a father of two.
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