My parents were born in 1915, I am the youngest of 5, my parents were in there 40’s when I was born in 1956. I was mum’s first Caesarean, after which she spent the then usual 10 days in hospital.
Mum told me dad was very good at helping out with the first couple of kids but by the fifth perhaps he had had enough? I’m sure he loved me but we were not close, but I suspect this is true for a lot of offspring of that generation. I always felt close to my mother, and being ‘the baby’ of the family my siblings all felt I got spoilt rotten! Despite this I have had a good life, I had a great mother and a good enough father.
It was a different era then; fathers were excluded from the birth, let alone operating theatres, babies were kept in nurseries, my mother never got to breastfeed me because we were separated for a few days after her operation as it was thought she needed to recuperate after the operation. The total opposite happens in today’s maternity wards.
Sure modern obstetrics has its problems, but for fathers the possibilities and opportunities have really opened up. If a dad isn’t at the birth it’s very much the exception. Not that attending the birth should be compulsory either! “Different strokes for different blokes,” as the saying goes, but supporting your partner through pregnancy and labor is important, and she will love you for it and be forever grateful of that support. But that new life, this baby, this bundle of human potential, this is where you can really help to unleash this potential. The evidence is in, dads do make a difference, and dads bring a different but complementary role to mothers.
You see some families where you would just love to be that baby, to have those parents, because it is obvious that child will be unconditionally loved, cared for and nourished.
You see some families where you fear for that baby, its future is clouded because of one or both parents, because of their childhood history, but nothing is written in stone, given half a chance most children will thrive. A dad, who is attentive to their child, loves them unconditionally and provides a protective, calm and stimulating childhood environment, that child will almost certainly thrive, and be a better dad because of your fathering. This has been shown time and time again in longitudinal family studies.
The other thing these studies tell us is that we humans are not always hamstrung by our past, it is possible to break the cycle, some men with a really poor past rise above it and grow into amazing human beings. So grasp this opportunity with your child, don’t be afraid to seek help and advice, and provide your child with the opportunity to fulfill his/her potential.
Hobart Beer + Bubs Presenter