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SHARING THE LOAD

Case histories

A new baby puts enormous demands on both parents. It's often said that men feel deprived of their partner's usual emotional support and aren't able to help when they are most needed. However, one father commented: "There may be less time and energy for partners to devote to each other. But there doesn't necessarily have to be less love or emotional commitment.

"That the baby is a rival, a threat to male security and confidence, hasn't been my experience. Granted, my wife became immediately and deeply involved with our daughter. But so did I. Far from being a rival, this tiny, totally selfish, totally helpless and endlessly fascinating new member of the family became a focus for both my wife's and my own emotional concentration. Abi was the most important thing in our lives and she had an automatic and priority claim in our time, attention and love." (Terrence)

The same father also commented on how far from being divisive, the experience of raising a child can have a bonding effect on the parent's relationship: "This sense of joint responsibility gave us a stronger appreciation of teamwork and co-operation."

Jordan is the father of a seven-month-old boy and a two-year-old girl and comments on combining his role as father and partner: "I do find it hard coming home from work and switching to 'father mode' and 'partner mode' in a short space of time. The evenings are a mad rush to get the kids fed, bathed and to bed. It really only at the weekends you have time to bond. On top of that there is the struggle to spend quality time with my partner. By the time the children are asleep we're totally shattered. Before we had Cyndi I had a rosy-tinted view of fatherhood. I'm more realistic now and know about the difficulties."

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