“For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother,
and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
As a Christian couple, you and your husband are a team. So why should that be any different when it comes to raising your child?
All throughout my pregnancy – and in the last month since my son was born – I keep catching myself saying “my child” or “my son” rather than “our son.” I know this could just be a slip of the tongue, but it bothers me because deep down I know the control-freak in me believes it.
I carried him for 9 months. I did the research on what sleep positions, play time activities, etc. are best for him. I stay home all day with him. He is my son more than anyone else’s, right?
It’s hard for me to give up control, especially on someone who depended solely on me for 40 weeks and 3 days for nurturing and protection.
But I have to remember that my husband and I are one flesh, one team; not a mom and her husband, but a mom and a dad. Two parents to our son Joshua who love him equally and, therefore, equally want what’s best for him.
So how does someone who just wants everything to go her way give up that control to someone else? It’s not easy. Every moment is a struggle. But here are some things I have to remember that help me in that struggle.
1. You need “me-time.”
If you raise this child all on your own with no help from Dad, you will never have time to yourself. My husband and I work in shifts. He usually gets home about 6 pm. As soon as he is out of the shower, it is his shift with Joshua. I am free to do whatever I want. We eat at 7 pm and then by 7:30 I am in bed until midnight. Hubby wakes me up at midnight and tells me when Joshua last ate. My shift then begins until 6 pm the next evening.
During my husband’s shift, I have the mind-set of “I am off-duty. I have no say.” If my husband asks me how long to keep Joshua awake or what time he should bathe him, I tell him, “It’s your shift. It’s up to you.” It was hard the first time and less hard the second time. But now, I enjoy the freedom of not having to worry if he’s getting fed or changed or played with. My husband is a competent man. And guess what, so is your husband! He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like you. He makes a living doing whatever job he does. He can handle the baby for a few hours while you have some “you-time.
2. Dad needs to figure out how to be Dad.
You know how important it is for baby to bond with Mom, but it is just as important for baby to bond with Dad. I’m a stay-at-home-mom, so Joshua is bonding with me all day. We’re not having any trouble on finding the time to bond.
But it’s different for Dad. Dad is away from home for 9-12 hours every day. He needs every chance he can get to bond with baby.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about parenting with my husband was to “let Dad figure out how to be Dad.”
I spent 5 days in the hospital while Joshua was in NICU. My husband, unfortunately, had to go back to work the day after he was born. And because we live almost 2 hours away from the hospital where I delivered, he couldn’t come back to see me and Joshua.
While in the hospital, I learned how to feed him, burp him, and change his diaper. I learned what songs helped him fall asleep. I got to know him in a way my husband was missing out on.
When I got home, I felt like a “pro” compared to my husband. The control-freak and the teacher inside of me wanted to stand over my husband’s shoulder and tell him everything he was doing “wrong.” I wanted to hold his hands, literally, and guide him in bottle feeding and diaper changing. But instead, I followed the advice I was given. I told him once how to do something and then I let him figure it out – just like I did in the hospital. If he had a question, he could come ask me, but besides that I left him alone to figure it out.
And guess what? The house didn’t burn down. Joshua didn’t starve or poop everywhere. And Dad ended up teaching me some things about what Joshua likes and dislikes. He even tends to be better at putting on diapers than me.
3. Baby needs to bond with Daddy, too.
Previous generations may not be familiar with “skin-to-skin,” but this generation of moms tend to hear over and over about how important it is. Skin-to-skin, or holding your bare-chested baby on your bare chest, has so many benefits for you and baby. This includes temperature control, regulating heartbeat, enabling breastfeeding, bonding, reducing crying, and reducing risk of postpartum depression.
There are benefits for Dad and baby when the two have skin-to-skin contact as well. Just as Mom and baby get a rush of hormones that can calm both down, Dad can get these hormones too. By having baby on Dad’s bare chest, the two can bond as well as regulate temperature and the heartbeat of baby. Dads can also get a form of postpartum depression, so skin-to-skin is just as important for Dad as it is for you.
For my fellow control-freaks, it can be hard to give up control even just for half an hour. But you have to remember that if you don’t let someone else handle it, you will burn out –and at the end of that road is postpartum depression. You are no good to your child if you end up getting PPD. You have to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually, or you won’t be able to take care of your child. Fortunately, God provided you with a life-partner to help you raise your child, and He established the spiritual motivation in him to help you.
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children
and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord
by doing what is right and just . . .”
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring
them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
“For you know that we deal with each of you as a father deals
with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to
live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward
from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children
born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them . . .”
My prayer for you:
Mom, I pray that you will give up control to those who want to help you. I pray you find the time to have “me-time.” I pray you never know the struggle of PPD, but if you do that you will be delivered from it. I pray for your husband that he may fill his spiritual role and do his part in guiding your child in the Way of the Lord. I pray he does not get discouraged as he learns how to take care of your child and that the two of you will speak to each other with words of encouragement during this trying time.
You’ve got this, Mom!
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