I have often written on here about my early life and my happiness today despite it instead of because it. I feel truly blessed at the moment with my wife pregnant and due to give birth in October this year. We both have our own ideas of how life will be after the arrival of our son and how we will fit in all the other things we have to do with the care he will need. So it was with interest that I came across an article about new parents’ expectations the other day.
The article stated that the period after the birth of a baby can be a time of readjustment that neither parent is truly prepared for. It is safe to say that life changes completely once that small bundle is brought home but many of the parents were , so the article said, unprepared for the feelings they had when this happens. According to the article, this very much depends on the expectations of the role of both parents that were formed during the pregnancy. Parents tend to get wrapped up in the idea of introducing their newborn to their home and their own ideals of what they should be doing and when expectations are not met, it can lead to disappointment and competition for the attention of the baby. Many parents, especially fathers, who had expected to take a major role in the care of their baby found themselves reverting to more traditional gender roles as their wives came to terms with being a mother and many cited a need for “more connection” with their infants. I would like to think that the care of our baby will be a joint effort and my wife expects the same but until the time our boy arrives, it is easy to predict, harder to know what will really happen.
New parents often feel overwhelmed as they discover that it can be impossible to keep up with all of the roles that they had previously. Chores and social obligations may suffer and, ultimately, both parents experience these new pressures. Whether it is the parent staying home with the new baby or the partner still going to work, both often feel exhausted and stressed because they are significantly impacted by these new responsibilities. If couples don’t talk about life with the baby and who will do what, it can become a source of resentment and tension. The issue of changing expectations and roles is a natural one for many families as they adapt to the baby in their lives, but many parents are surprised at how much friction occurs in the first few months after baby is home.
“Talking about expectations and roles before the baby is born can help ease so much of the tension,” says Karon Foster, a parenting expert from Invest in Kids. “This is a great way to avoid unspoken assumptions about who will do what and can make for a much easier transition. Try to agree on how things within the household will be managed, such as what chores are absolutely necessary, who will do what chores, and how you will share the tasks of your baby’s care.” This can be greatly complicated by the parent’s own experiences of being raised. This can lead to assumptions such as it being a woman’s job to take care of the baby or that mothers should automatically be able to do everything right with the baby. These days, there is often more equality in the parenting role, but mothers statistically still take on more of the workload.
The first few months with a baby are generally the most difficult. During this period, each person grapples with the new responsibilities, what the responsibilities mean on a day-to-day basis and how the responsibilities define the parents’ relationship. Important questions to consider include: What sacrifices will be made by each party for the benefit of the child? What duties will be covered by each person? And how will the obligations of work and family matters come into play? These concerns are rarely discussed before a child’s birth and end up becoming sore subjects within a relationship. This is because the issues eventually surface while each person is sleep deprived, emotionally spent and overwhelmed with new responsibilities. However, the transition to parenthood can also create an opportunity for an even stronger relationship, namely if the foundation for working together is laid down by the expecting parents prior to baby’s arrival. Communication is critical for a harmonious relationship to exist and a solid partnership to thrive. Take time to communicate about the imminent changes during the pregnancy and continue the conversation throughout baby’s infancy.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who are housebound or located in rural locations where therapy is difficult to find. He can be booked for online sessions from anywhere in the world. First consultation free. For more information , follow the link to his website HERE
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