Dear Helen, I have a three months old baby and I'm really happy about it. But I have to admit that these three months have been very difficult for me both physically and mentally. I believe it would be much easier for me if my husband was more active and more serious about his role as a father. I've been pointing out to him several times that I need more help with the baby and that he can't act like he is doing me a favor when I ask him to change diapers, prepare food, etc. I'm still not working and he is, so he often uses work as an excuse. Please give me your advice, am I mistaken?
The source of frustration and lack of understanding of many couples who become parents is the mother feeling that the father is not fully involved in parenting and is not participating sufficiently in family responsibilities. Lesser father involvement may be somewhat explained by the traditional distribution of roles, where the care of a child is generally considered to purely be a "maternal practice". On the other hand, there are biological explanations, where motherhood is considered instinctive and biologically grounded, while paternity is something that has to be learned and mastered. Accordingly, it generally takes them more time to fully accept parenting. Yet, according to the modern understanding, the concept of parenthood is understood as an "equal parental partnership". Equally involved parents work together and accomodate to the situation, decide on how to divide the tasks and activities regarding the child. All of this is done in attempt to be economical and fairly distribute, rather than based on the principle of "male" and "female" roles, or a "mother's” and “father's” tasks. With this approach, the quality of parenting can be achieved only in the complementarity of both parents. Many experts who deal with the roles of the father and mother in parenting find that the way in which a father will experience the baby’s arrival will largely depend on the mother's confidence in his competence in relation to this role. So, in order to get sufficient support from your husband, you should first try different communication strategies. Instead of the occasional "pointing out", take the time for a serious talk. Explain how important it would be for him to be equally involved in taking care of the baby. Compliment his fatherly competences. Give a specific example when he was helpful and tell him how much it meant to you. Having a constructive conversation, try to make a schedule of activities together, in which both of you will find some free time for yourself, which will help you vent the accumulated fatigue and stress. It is very important to become aware of each others’ efforts - of your daily care for the baby and of his business obligations. Talk openly about your feelings, things that are particularly exhausting and the way you can overcome them and support one another in this wonderful, shared journey through parenting.