Transition to Parenthood
Posted by Admin Dino, August 29, 2012
I think that I felt I was really a parent when I had learnt that you're not going to get everything right, but you will survive anyway. I understand what "good enough parenting" means. Sometimes that's all you can do.
It's often not until your baby is six to twelve 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. Everyone who has ever experienced it, says nothing can really prepare you for the huge upheaval, both physical and emotional, that a new baby brings to their lives. By the second half of the first year, however, things should be starting to settle down and you should feel more in charge.
The birth of a baby changes the relationship between a couple forever. Whilst it can be enhancing, there are many things about this time in life that can create stress. For example, lack of sleep for weeks and sometimes months on end can leave parents ragged and irritable, particularly if they are unsure why their baby does not sleep so well. Lack of experience can make parents feel defensive, and often critical of the other partner. A problem such as colic can put rationalism to the test, taking worn out parents to the limit of their tolerance. Add to this a household that may be experiencing a cash-flow shortage due to one partner stopping work, or paying childcare costs, and it's easy to see how communication can break down.
A new baby obviously needs an enormous amount of nurture from his mother. This puts a huge demand on you and means you'll want more love and attention, in turn, from your partner. On the other hand, he's deprived of your usual emotional support during this time, and if he just can't cope with a lot less cherishing than he's used to, he can't help you when you most need it.
It can be helpful to think of your ability to give endless love and affection as an 'emotional store cupboard' that needs constant stocking up if you are to draw from its supplies. No one can really give love unless they're getting it, too. It's important to tell each other what you want. Don't expect your partner to read your mind. Try to be clear and honest.
When you have important things to talk over, try to pick the right time and be aware of your feelings. Stick to 'I' phrases, such as 'I feel lonely' rather than 'you' phrases like 'you're never here'. Be prepared to negotiate, and agree to differ — don't always insist on having the last word. Caresses help a lot, too: whether given or received, the effect seems to be the same. Be hands-on loving.
Sometimes partners need lessons in 'relationship skills', such as negotiating, communicating, expressing affection and doing their share. Some of us didn't learn these skills in our own families, but they're vital. Think of your relationship as the root out of which the whole structure of your new life needs to grow and flourish. Keep talking, spending time together, and listening to each other, considering each other. You depend on each other and should take care of each other.
This is a time, if you haven't done so already, for talking about your past, finding what experiences you have in common, what you feel about certain important issues, such as discipline, sleep arrangements. You may be surprised to find that your partner has very different views from you about how to bring up children, and these differences will be worth exploring together.