Dads are increasingly breaking the mold and becoming the primary caregiver in their families. Healthline report that 2 million fathers identified as the ‘stay at home’ parent or primary caregiver, up from just 189,000 two years prior. Whether a stay at home dad or just a regular parent, it’s clear that fathers are taking more of an active role in their newborn’s life.
As a result, it’s never been more important to safeguard the healthy development of the family in order to safeguard mental wellness against the likes of postnatal depression.
Creating a bond
As many as 1 in 4 men are diagnosed with postnatal, or postpartum, depression, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
A big cause of this is owed to non-hormonal causes, and specifically of what parenthood should be, and the nuclear family in particular.
Put simply, the hands-off approach of fathers in the middle 20th century persists to this day, and many modern dads have an emotional rift when it comes to being a dad. A good first step to bridge this gap is through simple closeness; for instance, dads can use a baby swing to calm their child down or simply carry the baby around the house.
These small steps lay the foundation for something greater and benefit both the dad and the baby.
Taking your bond with a child one step further can be done with the help of learning.
Perhaps the most simple and effective way of doing this is through reading. In an article by British book charity Book Trust, a parent who had been diagnosed with postpartum depression outlined how reading with her baby had helped her immeasurably with her recovery. The rationale is simple – in those times spent reading, you’re building a close bond with your baby while also aiding their development.
You’ll come to learn a lot about them, even at their young age, and use this to build your relationship with the child.
Finally, always speak to your child.
Talk about yourself, and about them, and have open conversations. You may feel a bit foolish – you won’t get a legible reply – but that doesn’t mean you’re not having a dialogue with your kid. Start early, do it often, and remind yourself daily of the wonderful human being you’ve brought into the world.
Combining these methods will help you to protect your mental health against the high-stress world of fatherhood. This, in the process, will protect you and your child. Starting early and doing it often is the best strategy, and will help you to fully enjoy the formative years of your baby’s life.