SafeMotherhood
safe motherhood

SHARING THE LOAD

It's often not until your baby is six to 12-months old that you can really sit back and begin to feel that you are getting to grips with the job of being a parent. By the second half of the first year things should be starting to settle down and you should feel more in charge. One parent commented:

"I think that I felt I was really a parent when I had learnt that you're not going to get everything right, but will survive anyway. I understand what 'good-enough parenting' means. Sometimes that's all you can do."

As you both adapt to the new role it's important that you support each other and recognise that you're both learning. Mothers don't necessarily know how to look after their babies any more than fathers do. Both of you will automatically reach back to your own, sometimes unconscious, memories of being parented, in order to find ways of coping. You probably both have your doubts about your abilities and need to encourage each other. One father said: "I still feel incredibly privileged and not a little awed to have experienced what has occurred in the past few weeks. I'm just beginning to feel that we might even make a success of parenthood."

Another father has some interesting reflections on the broad implications of fatherhood: "I am aware that the usual experience of part-time parenting does not prepare a man for all that two children can throw at him. Society sees fathers as providers and supporters of their families, but gives little time to thinking of the qualities needed for that dual role. I think that society only recognises the importance of fathers when they are not there and it has to chase up absentee fathers and maintenance payments." (Ian)

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