First and foremost, I wanna make clear that when I mention Dad, it symbolizes the male figure. It can be a friend, an uncle, boyfriend, partner, grandfather, neighbor, anyway, it all depends on the familiar reality in which the baby is expected.
Child development research tells us that the father's presence or absence in the baby's life influences his or her socio-emotional growth.
So what's the best time to get the dad involved in the baby's life? Since the conception!
The obvious answer, unfortunately, is not part of the reality of many people. By n reasons, which we will not address here, and also by the fact that some mothers get hold of the child, not letting the dads interact.
Then, continuing, the presence of the father is already felt from the moment he begins to protect the pregnant, taking care of and following the stages of pregnancy, helping in the tasks and the choices for the birth. Some first-time parents need to be encouraged to approach the newborn, because it is through practice, with love and patience, that they learn to care for the baby. It is therefore crucial that the mother surrender and accept that this learning is for both of them, much on the basis of trial and error.
Anxious and insecure mothers do not accept their father's participation. Which, little by little, causes estrangement from father and son, with the definition that "the one who cares is the mother". As a result, she is a stressed-out mother with no time to take care of herself, a restless, sad child and a couple, about to be undone.
And when the dad have no initiative? It is up to the mother to encourage these situations of coexistence very early. Because, if she does not accept this interaction by making criticisms, corrections, etc., later the child will not accept anyone to take care of her/him, including grandparents, uncles and godparents. And, the baby's estrangement from the family will be longer and harder.
Studies confirm that the dad skills (male figure) when playing with the baby, using the thicker voice, broader and energetic gestures, only strengthen and gratify the relationship. By mimicking monsters, making the child fly, playing wrestling, for example, the baby experiences a lot of emotions, a kind of fear and fun. Valuing this involvement and making the father feel free to act in his style, brings the following benefits to the baby: he recognizes the father from a very early age, he likes the physical plays and knows the different between dad and mom very quickly.
When starting a conflict about how to take care of the baby, such as: how to shake the bottle, fasten the diaper, wrap the baby, dress or undress, it is best to split the responsibilities, step back and respect the way of each one. Some women, for various reasons, including cultural ones, can not leave the fathers at ease, and they lose sight of this loving interaction and greet father and son, which causes no loss to the mother, on the contrary, only brings gains. It is the father / mother relationship that enriches the life and the affective growth of the baby, as well as the relation with the different discoveries by the life outside.
As can be seen, paternity is in transition nowadays, and to better understand the importance of the presence and emotional involvement of the father, it is enough to look at the transformation of families over time. In the last generations, the father ceased to be the only source of sustenance for the home. The woman broke many barriers and concepts related to fatherhood, and new negotiations on child rearing were built.
Thus, men have new opportunities for intimate involvement in their children's lives. Many take advantage of these opportunities, especially when the relationship is stable and the couple balances their day. Others, for lack of initiative, or for impediment of the mother, end unfortunately, acting as coadjuvantes or baby-sitters.
Although it is normal for some dads to feel somewhat excluded, the gradual involvement with the child is directly linked to their relationship with their fathers. And this leads them to resume aspects of their childhood. There arises, at that moment, a greater sensitivity and perception of what their participation in the child's life can be from the beginning.
So, if you're an anxious mother, the trick is to try to distinguish what comes from your maternity experience and what are the beliefs and ideas from other people, including family members. And, for the couple, the ideal is to find their parents and re-read their behavior, trying to see together, what fits or not for the baby.
The key advice: relax and keep in mind that, more important than the "how" you do, it is the love with which you take care of the baby.
Source: Leocadia Rudenco - Arthur's Grandmother
Suggested Readings: Parents and Children, Robert Shinyashiki
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman.