As a proud daddy to seven children between the ages of 4 months and 27 years old, I’ve learned my fair share about parenting and being a supportive daddy – not only to my children, but to my wife too. After all, she is the mother of my children, and by supporting her I reinforce the support I give so freely to my children as well.
Here are a few tips I’ve put together for significant others everywhere, so they can understand what it means to be a support to their partner before, during and after pregnancy.
Being supportive begins with keeping an open line of communication. Discuss ideas for the future with your partner, including which room baby will sleep in, the option of hiring a nanny and what the day to day schedule will actually look like. In each of these discussions, my wife and I had different ideas, but by listening to each other’s opinions, we were able to come up with a plan that ended up working well for everyone. We also discussed our plan of action for finances, and even obtained a proper insurance policy. By allowing both of us to voice concerns and excitements before baby arrived, we were able to have many important discussions that ultimately led to us raising our family in the best way possible.
Share what you’re most looking forward to
I am really looking forward to watching my children grow, becoming wonderful, intelligent and empathetic adults. Before baby arrives, I look forward to the moment when I hold them in my arms for the very first time. I look forward to the moment when they very first say “dada”. I’m always sure to share these excitements with my wife. When I open up and share my dreams and hopes, it deepens our relationship, and my wife appreciates my efforts.
Share your concerns
Even though we’ve been through this seven times, I still get worried about possible challenges each time my wife becomes pregnant. When I voice them directly, I feel relieved to let them go. It allows us to come up with alternative plans that we both feel positive about. You’ll be surprised by what you can work out and settle into before baby arrives.
Share your readiness
When I started the discussion about whether or not to add to our family, my wife appreciated me bringing this out into the open. Deciding to have children will change your life forever in a positive way. When you say “yes” to your partner, be ready to accept responsibility in helping to raise, hold, love, educate and work together as a team.
Learn to wear many hats
You’ll have to quickly learn to “be” a lot of things while your wife is pregnant. Showing up for smalls tasks and activities like doctors appointments, running last minute errands or doing an extra load of laundry will score points in the support department. You have to be her rock, standing behind her no matter what challenges you face.
Learn to be creative in coming up with special activities, meals, drinks, or chores that will make your wife feel special. I suggest a romantic dinner with “mocktails” and a movie. I have also had success in drawing my wife a bubble bath to soak in while I secretly race upstairs to do the dishes and fold the laundry. Try to be patient, and take each day as it comes, as everyday is going to be different than the one before.
Nurturing husband, nurturing daddy
Everything you’ve been preparing for and practicing for over the past nine months is now reality. After you bring baby home, your role as a nurturing husband now expands to being a nurturing daddy, too.
Dig in and help out
You’re going to need to be more supportive than ever. When we brought baby home, I showed my support by jumping up in the middle of the night, time and time again, to change diapers. I tried to let mom sleep and relax as often as possible. Being a new parent is exciting, but it also takes a lot of work. Be prepared to keep up with romance, too, which can be tricky!
Once the dust settles, be sure to plan a special outing or a special activity for you, your wife and your new bundle of joy. At four months, I planned an outing to a local fair for a special family day. We walked around, drank some lemonade and settled into a shady spot on the grass while we listened to music and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a special time for the three of us to bond. At six months, I planned a family barbeque, being sure to think the whole party through so it wouldn’t add any additional stress on my wife. I asked folks to bring food and even stay after to help clean up. These types of events can be very powerful in reminding us that we have lots of support behind us and there are plenty of people willing to help.
There are many things you can do to nurture and support your significant other before pregnancy, during pregnancy and beyond. The more supportive and nurturing you are, the more support you’ll receive in return, ensuring that your family is a happy one.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads.