Mind Matters ó Letter to First Time Fathers

Consider this an open letter from expectant grandmother to all newly expectant fathers. Sleepless nights lead me to write this. Yes, there is research to confirm what I write but what I write is from my experience and my heart. With the advent of a grandchild, I am reliving my own pregnancies and the early years of child raising.

Note that the expectant mother you love so dearly is in very new territory. Actually this is new to both of you. You are not the master of this universe and need to humbly submit to that which is larger than yourself. You are a participant observer to the creation of new life; meanwhile, mother-host of baby to come is experiencing profound personal and emotional changes. I am not about to wax on about the hormonal chemistry of it all, but would rather alert you to the fact that you will need to flow with these changes.

To be more concrete, when a woman is pregnant, she is already becoming protective of the burgeoning life she carries. Possible dangers in the environment get amplified. Respect and honor that. While women may already be more vigilant to issues of safety in their environment, a pregnant woman may be hyper-vigilant.

Let me share an example from my own life. I have never liked walking through parking garages. However, when I was pregnant, I remember being in a city garage with a heightened sense of urgency and alertness, feeling especially protective of the growing life within. So when your expectant love is making a request about your behavior that arises from her new found way of being in the world, listen to her. She is becoming a mother and as a mother, she is an even keener observer of her milieu.

Life is changing for both of you. What is important now is what is best for the baby to be.

It doesnít get simpler after the baby is born. Whatever mothering you got from your spouse will get directed to the baby, as it should be. Babies canít self-soothe (No, donít let them cry themselves to sleep!) and they need all the love and nurturing possible.

No need to get jealous of the attention the baby will get. Instead, be more attentive to the needs of both baby and mother. This is your opportunity to shine as a caregiver: besides, youíll get that great oxytocin-love-hormone fix with baby bonding as much as the mother will. Let it happen.

Meanwhile, know that the nursing motherís body is still intimately beholden to babyís needs.

What should be the hopeful intent of every parent is to make the lives of their children better than the lives they themselves had as children; this is not about wealth accumulation and power. Beyond the foundations of unconditional love, there should be a sense of providing the next generation with even more possibility for self-actualization. Give the child a safe environment and also one where imagination, awareness, knowledge, and wisdom can develop. Education of the whole child is paramount.

Of course, some societies support parents in this endeavor more than others. For example, most developed nations other than the United States provide paid parental leave and recognize the importance of the first year of life. These same countries subsidize daycare and pre-school too.

Hopefully, you can find ways here, nonetheless, to provide for this little life so that she will flourish into a new dawn and propel future generations forward into greater consciousness.

Maybe this is just the first epistle on how parenting is the hardest and most important job in the world.