First time dads are just so fun to watch. Lots of times I look at their eyes and they seem to be saying in wonder, "I had no idea THAT was what was growing in my wife's belly!" In awe they stand there just trembling with excitement. It's just amazing.
And yet, new dads are often at a loss for what to do. Mom's breastfeeding. Mom is generally the one who (by default) winds up doing mostly everything for this tiny new creature. And that's where my husband David throws down a challenge to all the new dads we meet.
He will tell them, "I want you to make it a personal goal to change every diaper whenever you are at home those first few weeks." David knows from personal experience that if a guy doesn't jump in there and intentionally DO something, it's likely that mom will just take over. He has also learned that while a mom may do this, over time she will begin to be resentful... she begins to wonder why hubby doesn’t DO something to help? Meanwhile, poor new dad is terrified of this new little creature crying all the time and even more terrified by his wife and her hormonal state.
So David's challenge to change every diaper gives new dads a goal. It gives them a duty and with this diaper duty comes familiarity with handling this little bundle of joy. It gives them confidence in holding, changing and consoling the baby. It's really not about changing the diapers (although new mommies certainly appreciate that) as much as it is about getting dads into the mix, despite how scared or awkward they may feel. And every dad I know that has taken this challenge has come back later to say that this small incentive made huge strides in them becoming an active father in the life if their child from day one. It was soooo much more than just diaper duty. It became the point of them taking their duty as dads seriously.
Lyette and her husband of 23 years, David, have 16 children. Their ten daughters and six sons range from 20-years-old to newborn. With Lyette's vast experiences in parenting, she loves to offer hope and help to families on her website TheRebacks.com. Lyette is also the author of Please God Don’t Let Me Screw This Up: Hope & Help from a Mom of Fifteen.
Image Credit: Richard Leeming