The transition into life as a new parent is huge- especially for new fathers. Think about it…a new mother spends 9 months bonding with the child in her womb. This time helps mothers to prepare and to ease them into this new role and responsibility. Dads don’t have the same experience. New dads start their role as a father cold-turkey, the day the baby is born. Scary, isn’t it?!
So how can we support our husbands in their new role as fathers? Here are 5 practical ways to build up confidence in our men and help ease the transition into a new life with baby.
1. Let him help
In the beginning when babies are breastfeeding constantly and the postpartum hormones are raging, it can be tempting for new moms to want to do everything for her baby on her own. Sometimes it just feels “easier” that way. But this is not a sustainable lifestyle for families, and it makes new dads feel useless and insecure when it comes to helping with their babies. Letting your husband help with as many tasks as possible builds his confidence and can help strengthen his bond with the baby.
2. Don’t make him read your mind
In this time of stress and exhaustion, it is especially important to remember that your husband is not a mind reader. He’s probably just as exhausted and frustrated as you, and he simply doesn’t know what you need unless you tell him. Spell it out so that there isn’t any confusion. If you’ve been up most of the night feeding baby and you need a few hours of rest, ask for it. Try to avoid passive-aggressive comments as these aren’t helpful and can hurt your relationship. Your husband wants to help, he just doesn’t always know how. Being upfront and honest is the best way to avoid unnecessary fights about what signals he might be missing.
3. Show appreciation for what he does
Just like anyone trying to function in a new role or responsibility, new dads need to know that they are appreciated. They need to know that they are doing a good job. Find ways to thank your husband for the little things that he does to help. Let him know that you couldn’t do it without him. A simple “thank you” goes such a long way in showing your husband that you are noticing their efforts and that you are grateful for them.
4. Trust him
One major part of maternal instincts is the temptation to want your husband to do things your way. Your husband may have a completely different way to change a diaper or put baby to sleep, and that’s ok! Different doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Let your husband find out what works best for him, and let him do things his own way. It will make him more confident in his abilities in the long run and also foster a deeper bond between him and the baby.
5. Avoid Blaming
If your husband’s efforts aren’t successful, don’t blame or accuse him. Trust that he’s doing his best and remember that you are both experiencing a huge learning curve as you transition into parenthood. Blaming or shaming your husband can make him retreat and less likely to try again in the future. When needed, give gentle suggestions like “Why don’t you try ___?” Or “maybe ___ would help?” Reassure him that you’ve had similar struggles and that it’s ok to ask for help.
Building up your husband’s confidence as a new father has lifelong benefits for your baby and your entire family. Open communication, expressing gratitude, and letting go of some of the control are ways that you can help ease your husband into his new role.