Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fathers

Happy Father's Day, from Poppy

Fathers are an integral part of a midwife's life, yet they don't often find themselves being the focus of my writings.

Today we have celebrated father's day, with a nice breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs, and a few little gifts including the standard 'sox-n-jocks'. Poppy has given me permission to use her drawing of herself, her daddy, and grandpa and granny.


Our society has changed in the past couple of generations, from excluding fathers from any involvement in birth to an expectation that they will be present and accounted for throughout the labour and birth.

Today the father's ritual of cutting the cord is almost comic relief after a highly medicalised birth. Occasionally a father says "no, thank you" when the scissors are being thrust in his direction, and someone else has to step up to the task.

What is a father's chief role in birth and early parenting?

Many aspects of a role come to mind, including encouragement, support, caring, looking after household chores, preparing meals, making cups of tea, ... These are like pieces of a puzzle - each one incomplete in itself. They only make sense when they fit together perfectly.

Looking beyond the individual pieces of the puzzle, the role of the father can be summarised as "to love the mother".

There are enormous adjustments that have to be made when a new baby is brought into a family. The father who loves the mother, in a gentle and unconditional way, is providing the strong cement that will hold that family together through sleep deprivation, and feeding challenges, and the many other unexpected journeys that come up in ordinary life.

Father's Day is to a great extent a product of materialism, and a great marketing opportunity. Today I encourage each father to truly love the mother of your children, and in that way you will be establishing strong bonds within your family, and protecting your children as well as their mother.

Unfortunately there is no plan that will guarantee that you will live 'happily ever after'. I simply encourage parents to commit yourselves to the work of parenting, to the best of your ability, and you will not regret the investment you make.

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