Kenyans recently marked fathers day but not all fathers are at a point where they can fully enjoy fatherhood since they have not been able to bond with their kids.
Fathers can often feel like a spare part when their first child born – but one leading expert wants men to know that their role is just as important as the mother’s.
Speaking to FEMAIL, author of the book The Life of Dad,said that a father bonding with his newborn can take even up to six months
‘It can take a good six months for a new dad to bond with their child but it’s crucial to remember that forming this father-child bond will happen, though you have to be willing to put in the time via interaction,’
‘The more input there is on your behalf, the quicker that a bond can form.’
Anna advices fathers to take a more active role in their child’s development and reveals the crucial tips they can use to be the best father they can be.
1. Don’t feel like a spare part
The most important thing you can do as a parent is to really tune in to who your child is as an individual.
From the day your child is born, both mum and dad should spend time with the baby to get a two-way communication going.
This includes touching and stroking your baby to making eye contact as this releases chemicals that help form a bond between you both.
Getting to understand your baby as an individual is the basis of attachment and it’s the fundamental foundation to build relationship with your baby.
Even as your child gets older, spending time and engaging with them to show that you’re being attentive to them and show that you are there helps to maintain the parent-child bond.
2. Communication is key
Two-way communication is the key to bonding with your baby.
With limited time off for parental leave, it can be harder if you’re a new father to connect with your baby than the mother, who already has a head start from giving birth and from breastfeeding.
It’s easy to mistake that your baby doesn’t like you if they start to cry when you’re holding them, but there is actually science behind this.
Your brain releases beta-endorphins and oxytocin. It’s really key for dads to do this to build up the levels of these chemicals, as women have a head start from childbirth.
So how can you release these chemicals to bond with your baby? Two major things that you can do with your baby who is younger than six months are:
- Baby massage – this give dads an Oxytocin hit.
- Talk, sing and read to your baby – whilst this might seem silly as your baby can’t respond to you, you’ll be building attachment with the child as they will get to know you by hearing your voice and getting used to your touch.
If your child is six months or older, then you’re able to play with your child to bond with them. There is one type of play you can do called ‘rough and tumble play’. This is the exuberant, energetic play, such as tickling and bouncing your child up and down.
These activities don’t need to take hours, even if it’s just for five to ten minutes at a time you’re still bonding with your baby.
What’s most important is that this time with your baby is uninterrupted, so put your phone to one side and give your child all of your attention.
Over the past 10 years my research has found that for new fathers, it takes them a while to find a bond with their child.
According to Daily Mail it can take a good six months for a new dad to bond with their child but it’s crucial to remember that forming this father-child bond will happen, though you have to be willing to put in the time via interaction. The more input there is on your behalf, the quicker that a bond can form.
Becoming a father is a massive life change so it’s absolutely normal not to feel a strong connection with your baby straightway.
3. Don’t give up
When times get tough, it can be difficult to know how to stay motivated to form bonds with children.
As a parent, you’ll always experience highs and lows and it can be tricky to know how to stay motivated to be there and form a special bond with your child.
No matter how old your child is, whether they’re a newborn or school age, you should:
- Remember how important you are to your child.
- Find support for yourself, take time out for yourself or as a couple and use help from people who offer to babysit. Times can be tough when you don’t get enough sleep and you might start to think why you became a dad or why you’re with your partner when you have a screaming baby.
- Give yourself SPACE! It’s okay to take a step back and all parents will feel that. Do something you enjoy, even if it’s just ten minutes to relax.
- Always remember how rewarding a baby’s smile can be. Your child’s smile can make everything better.
- Risk-take with your child. Resilience is important to a teenager. Being there as a father and investing in time with a teenager is a good contributor in them with self-esteem.
As your child grows older, the main role of nurturing and challenging will not change.
Time and attention is important and vital. Activities that you do together don’t have to be anything expensive or elaborate, it could be something simple as dog walking, cooking dinner together or simply taking the time to talk with your child
4. Practice makes perfect
Parenthood is always going to be daunting for both you and your partner, especially if it’s your first time becoming parents.
Baby manuals, as a starting point, are fine. You’ve evolved to become a parent and these guides are there to help you out.
There’s a lot to learn when you have a baby but care and love towards a child is instinctive, something which both parents will have, and this will help you tune into your child. Because of this, you shouldn’t overly rely on manuals.
Listening to what you need as a parent and what your child needs is really important and because a baby manual is not based on you or your baby, what a book might recommend might be the complete opposite to what you need to do as a parent.
Books are great in many ways as they provide practical tips but it’s essential to use your own instincts and learn to bond with your baby. After all, biology prepares us to be parents.
How to be the be best father you can be
1.Give yourself time .
2.Every father has a unique role
Whilst the mother’s role is to nurture and care for the child, the dad has a unique role – to help their child leave the family and explore the world and by challenging them to survive as an individual.
Fathers should be pushing their children to develop and learn new skills they need to interact with other people.
3.The role of dad could be anyone
Dad is anyone who steps up to take the job, whether it’s a biological dad, the mother’s current partner, an uncle or even grandfather for example.