Fathering an infant

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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:29 pm
One of the changes in American culture over the past generation has been the more active, direct role that many fathers have chosen to take in raising their infants. Studies continue to show that the role of the father is just as important as that of the mother to a child, and a child needs a father's active participation from birth. Many fathers are well suited to the task and are not only willing, but eager, to share the job, enabling them to participate in the many exciting and memorable everyday events in their babies' lives and bond with them. If, for some reason, you suffer from lack of confidence or experience, keep in mind that both fathers and mothers are made, not born, and men have just as much innate capability to master the fine art of baby care as women. Even if the mother is nursing, the father can share in diapering, bottle-feeding, bathing, and bringing the baby to Mom for nursing, even if it's the middle of the night. Keep in mind, though, that sharing duties can both relieve and contribute to both parents' fatigue, which can possibly cause tensions in the relationship. Another potential problem can be that a father may feel shut off if the mother is giving all her time and attention to the baby, especially if there's no intercourse in the first few weeks after childbirth. The conflict and jealous feelings should be temporary, and a father's becoming involved in caring for and playing with the new baby can help. From the baby's point of view, having both parents involved in care and play time is priceless, and parents can complement each other to make a healthy, more secure child.

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