Feeling Helpless: A New Father’s Dilemma
Six months old.That’s about how old my baby daughter is. When she was born, I was the one to hold her first. I got the first picture of her. Even though we had an older daughter, by me, this was my first time with the delivery room experience. The baby’s first days at the hospital were filled with the requisite cooing and fawning over mother and child. Already, Daddy was being gently pushed to the background.
When we brought the baby home, it kinda eased up. Hints of it were still present though. The newness of the baby, parenthood, and life adjustments added to it. Whenever I held the baby somebody seemingly always had something to say. “She’s fragile, support her neck, watch how you cradle her, blah blah blah”. That mess got old quickly.
I had been around, and even taken care of babies in the past. If I was careful with my somebody else’s child, I would definitely be with my own. It felt like I was only there to fill a need, whatever that need was. The more condescending I felt someone was being, the more irritated I became. Finally, I had had enough and kindly informed the misses that it needed to stop. She wasn’t the only one giving it to me, but she was the most important one.
I made allowances for the change in hormones, and emotions, but it was too much. Folks who I talked to told me to be patient, and it would blow over. Not fast enough as far as I was concerned. I really had to pray to God to ask Him to increase my patience. Well, He did. He told me I had to shift my attitude and be more loving to my wife. I really didn’t want to hear that, but I was going to be obedient to Him. And things have gotten better.
I’m not sure how many men have felt like this. Maybe I’m the only one, though I highly doubt it. When a baby is born, the dynamics of a relationship change. At first, it’s about him and her. The baby arrives and it becomes about the little one’s needs, then her, then him. The attention paid to the baby and new mother can cause resentment in the man.
He tends to focus on the needs of who he’s to provide for. Meanwhile, the mans’ needs may suffer. On one hand, it should be expected. On the other hand, it sucks to be “that guy”. What guy? The guy left out in the cold of what’s supposed to be a happy time. Some marriages and relationships break up because of this. The new life that’s arrived killed the old one; not just replaced it.
It happens all the time though. Many men won’t, or don’t know how to acknowledge these feelings. They feel like it’s wrong to have such feelings in the first place. The feelings aren’t wrong or misplaced; they come with new baby and new mother territory.
What needs to happen is a frank discussion about the emotional and mental changes that men will experience. There need to be outlets for new fathers the same way there are for mothers. Support groups and counseling may help. Whatever it is though has to cater to men so the frustrations can be channeled positively. Doing this won’t only help the man, but his family too.
Do you, or do you know any men who have experienced this? Are there any programs available that you can share?