Are you going to be a dad like your dad?
Much of what any of us knows about parenting comes our own up-bringing. Some kids had a great father and want to be as good as their own dad was to them. They have a good model to follow. For others, this wasn't the case.
Few people got the whole parenting package they wanted. Some of us felt neglected or were abused as a child. For some, their dad wasn’t there at all. Or if he was there, maybe he didn’t give his kids much attention. A man, whose own father wasn't the dad they wanted him to be, may tell himself: "I’ll never be like that with my kids," and are quite different to their own dad. Others find themselves repeating some of the same mistakes their own dad made with them. Being a good dad and role model is what your baby needs from you. Here are ways your childhood affects how you parent.
If your own childhood wasn’t extreme – neither fantastic nor appalling – you may not have thought much about how you were raised.
But, for all dads, it’s worth thinking about how your dad was with you (and your mum) because they were huge influences on you when you were little – even if they weren't there or weren't there enough. Our upbringing has a lot to do with who we are and how we behave with our own children.
Choose to be the dad you want to be
The good thing about this, is that no matter what kind of parenting you got, you are not your parents. You are an adult and, while all of us are influenced by our parents and how we were brought up, we can decide to do it similar to, or different, from our own dad.
This doesn’t mean we can just forget the past as though it never happened. It can be very hard to overcome if you had years of poor parenting. But, if we aware of what went down – and keep this in the back of our minds – we have a better chance of doing it better.
Having a baby and becoming a dad is a chance for you to live through a new childhood. You can try to create the world you wished you had when you were little. And you can live that new childhood with your own child. But, of course, this time you are the responsible one.
How do you make sure that you will be the dad you want to be. You might like to write down your answers to:
What did you like about your father? What did he do that you enjoyed?
What are things that you disliked about how your father acted or treated you or others?
What do you intend to do differently from your father?
Looking way ahead, what would you like your child to remember about what kind of dad you were?
If we don’t consider these things, we are likely to repeat our own father’s brand of parenting – whether it was good, bad or in between.
What baby needs from dad
Having a good relationship with your young baby is not rocket science. It’s mostly about being there and giving your baby your attention and affection.
This happens when you regularly do things with your baby (holding, changing, cuddling, soothing, bathing, playing, talking to, responding) as part of your daily routines. This will be life-enhancing for your baby – and it is fulfilling for you.
Being tough on a young child doesn't toughen them up. It lowers their self-esteem and can make them feel like a loser.
Many men find it hard to show their affection. But that's what children need, even when they are very young.
Being an involved dad is good for you
Talking to friends, whanau, workmates and boss about being a dad is good for you. Having people to talk to about your baby and being a dad is good for your physical and mental health. Dads who are involved with their children and active around the house tend to have better health than those who aren’t.