A part of our mission at Dads on Doody involves giving women a lens into how men view parenting and the relationship with their significant other. The two are obviously intertwined. Our latest podcast episode, Michael Jordan Was Breastfed, was a reversal of that formula where our male listeners (us included) gained new insight into what women need and how they think during pregnancy and the early days of child rearing. As I’ve pondered the discussion, considering where I was effective and where I missed, I also started thinking about my own needs (and likely those of other men) that were compromised at times during this tumultuous period.
Now, you may be thinking, WHO CARES? As men we don’t have to carry a baby, and the baby and its health is far more important than ours, etc. There’s also an element of “manning up” which society implies we as men need to do. I’m fine with all of that, except that if we’re going to be equal partners in this enterprise we call our family, we also have to be consistent. And…we got needs too.
So, what are our needs? I’ll keep it simple and give you three that immediately come to mind. Put them to use as you see fit.
WE WANT TO LIVE WITH A HAPPY PARTNER
Alise suggested that the most important thing men can do during pregnancy and after the birth is to “contribute”. It’s a great sentiment that resonated with me, and one that we can all carry forward as we raise our families. That said, it is critical that a conversation is had to determine what “contribution” means. Mike made the observation that we all see ourselves as above average. Most guys try really hard to be supportive partners, but if you don’t tell us what you truly need, we’ll fail. Our inability to read your minds has been the cause of disasters, big and small, throughout history. Communication is the glue that holds everything on the planet together. If we don’t know what you need, you’ll be unhappy. We will be too.
LET US KNOW WHEN AMAZON WILL BE BACKING A DELIVERY TRUCK UP TO OUR FRONT DOOR
As Mike mentioned, most men stress over the financial implications of having a child. Kids cost money, and dads feel a tremendous pressure to be able to provide. Yes, women do as well, but anecdotally men feel it more. Strollers, cribs, car seats (to name a few)…all essential items that cost 3X more than they should. Consider staging the acquisition and easing us into the reality that is a $700 stroller. We’ll sleep better. (Listen to our Worth It Or Not Worth It podcast series for our opinions on a broader range of baby related items.)
TELL US WE’RE KICKING ASS
Deep down, we realize that we’re relatively useless in the early stages. Feed our egos, knowing how simple and competitive we are at the core. Tell us that we matter. Say things to us like…
“How did you get so good at swaddling?”
“Our baby looks so happy when he/she is in your muscular arms.”
“You are the Usain Bolt of diaper changing. There is no one faster!”
As an honorable mention in the needs department, consider giving us some naming rights for the new baby. We like planting flags in things. We’re dumb, and adorable, like that.
So there you have it, three simple suggestions (and one politically charged honorable mention) to keep your man in the game during a critical period in your collective life. Having babies and raising a family will either tear you apart or make you an unstoppable force. Be a team, and choose to be unstoppable. But don’t forget that we got needs too.