The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers
by Morris Turner
Now that the baby is here, what is the role of the father? From the first breath, father and mother alike have the same level of responsibility and opportunity in welcoming their newborn into the world.
Mothers, however, because of their unique biological structure, will always be closer, as they carry and nurture the child for nine months and continue to be the first source of food, in most cases, after they arrive. But wait, fathers, don’t get jealous. Everything else is a shared and mutual opportunity, including changing those “stinky” diapers.
When my children were infants, some of their diapers looked like sacks filled with gold and that’s exactly how I treated them. While I was changing those messy diapers, poop coming all out of the sides, I would make it a game.
I’d say, in a loving and calm voice: “Wow, you broke the record! Good job, champ.” Or if it was really, really, really smelly, I might make a scrunched up face and say, “Ooh-wee, now that’s stinky.” “You’re just a stinky little boy, aren’t you?”
In other words, rather than getting upset with the incredible mess in front of me, I’d make a game out of it and over time we both learned to smile and then, as they got a little older, laugh each time it happened. Believe me, after 10-20-30 diapers, you’ll get the hang of it. After all, the job must be done, so you might as well make it as easy as possible. Above all, don’t take yourself too seriously. “It” washes off with soap and water!
Helpful hints for getting through infancy
- She is not your “baby’s mama”; she is the mother of your child.
- Get your mind in the right groove. Raising your child is just as much your job as the mother’s. Remember to enjoy this job, because it is the most important and fulfilling one you will ever have.
- Yes, it will be difficult sometimes. Being up all hours of the night and then going to work is not the easiest thing to do, but someone probably did it with you.
- Every time you have an opportunity to touch or hold your child, take advantage of that special moment because it will never be repeated. Make good eye contact, speak in a calm voice – always – and let your child know how wonderful they are. If you don’t tell them, how will they ever know?
- When an infant cries, they are telling you something. They may be hungry, cold, wet, uncomfortable or just want to be held by you.
- Learn to be patient with your baby, yourself and with those around you. Your baby is growing and learning and so are you. When you go slower, you will see more.
- Nobody knows it all and parenting is an “on the job” learning situation. Stop by the library and ask the librarian for books on raising infants. They’ll be glad to help.
Morris Turner is the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (707) 794-0729 .