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Labor Support Tips For Dads: 6 Things You Should Do When Your Wife Is Giving Birth

Labor Support Tips For Dads: 6 Things You Should Do When Your Wife Is Giving Birth

If you have decided to be there to watch the birth of your child, get ready for the most awesome and wondrous event of your life which you will never regret. The only thing is that you have to do some homework and preparation if you really want to be supportive. That means hard work and also being courageous when things get tough and the whole process of giving birth takes longer than you and your wife ever thought. Here are 6 tips to help you through all this.

“The best part about having kids is not actually having to have kids. Thank you, women.” – Jarod Kintz, The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They’re Over.

1. Preparation is key

You cannot just turn up when things are happening. It takes a lot of preparation. If you have not attended childbirth and labor education classes, do so immediately. With classes, you know what is going to happen and the various phases of labor and childbirth. You know about C-section and why it may be necessary. Knowing the details helps you keep fears at bay so you can be strong for the woman you are supporting.

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It also means that you have to have your bag ready when the moment comes. This means having a change of clothes, your laptop,(as the hospital will have wi-fi), and plenty of reading material. There may be long waits if your wife has to have an epidural and you can get on with your own work, while she rests. Throw in some snacks in your bag because you too will need sustenance when things start to happen. Don’t be one of those who get dizzy and faint. Adequate food and nutrition are essential.

2. You know you are the supporter-in-chief

You have already been through the birth plan with your wife so you know exactly what she expects you to do and what she will need help with when giving birth. You know about the Braxton Hicks contractions and how these might be a false alarm. You also know that painful contractions which are lasting 30 seconds or more could be a sign that she is in early labor and you might have to get to the hospital pretty quickly, unless you are already there. You now know that throughout this phase, you have to be the solid supporter who is reassuring and confident that all will be well. Help her by keeping her company and distracting her through the use of games and TV. Help her by assisting her finding a comfortable position by using pillows, brushing her hair and applying gentle foot massages. Assist her with showering and getting dried. Basically, whatever the woman in your life needs is something you need to provide.

3. You have both decided what specific roles you will have

You will have discussed with your wife what other people should be present. Giving birth can be a bit frightening and wearing so there should be very few other people present and no videos should be taken although it will be perfectly okay to take normal photos when the baby is born. You will know whether you want to be the one to cut the umbilical cord and also if you want to be the one to hand the baby to his or her new mom.

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4. You know that contractions when giving birth can be painful

The best way to approach the whole pain question is to know that your presence is a key element in the birthing process. Each contraction is one step nearer to the happy event. You are there to encourage, hold her hand and to be the main cheerleader, but again you will have discussed that with your partner beforehand.

You can tell her that she is doing just great and give her practical assistance by feeding her with ice chips and helping to mop up the sweat. You cannot ease her pain but at least you are giving all the practical help you can. You have also discussed whether she will give you a sign that being touched while in pain may actually be uncomfortable. Some women cannot bear being touched during this delicate stage.

“Childbirth changed my perception of my wife. She was now the bloodied special forces soldier who had fought and risked everything for our family.” – Mohsin Hamid

5. You can discuss where exactly you want to be

If you feel a bit sick at having to witness all the yucky bits, ask the doctor or doula if you can be near your wife’s head so that you do not feel faint or keel over. You do not have to see everything! If there is to be a C-section, you may not want to see that either so being near your wife’s head where you whisper and encourage her is very important and will help shield you from some of the more gory aspects of childbirth.

You will have discussed what role you can play when the pushing has to start. Some women are quite happy if their partner helps by holding a leg up and out. You do not need to take part in any of the coaching as to when is the best time to push. The staff will look after all that!

6. Continue being supportive after the baby is born

You have brought the flowers and told the whole world!  But you will still need to be supportive, strong and loving as you both face new challenges in welcoming the little one into your lives. You can get into the new rhythm by helping with bathing and nappy changing. You can leave the breastfeeding to your partner!

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Did you know that up to 10% of new Dads suffer from a little postpartum depression too? You will have to cope with disturbed sleep patterns, you will need to be even-tempered and patient and also have a sense of humor as you both work out the new routine and help each other. Parenting will always be a shared task and start as you mean to go on. Take inspiration from President Obama who has said that fatherhood is the most important job he has.

Featured photo credit: birth72/Lindsey Turner via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on December 20, 2019

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Kate sits down to the dinner table and is eager to be a good girl and eat her dinner like her Mom and Dad want her to do. She is a sweet girl who wants the approval of her parents very much. It is not always easy though. During dinner, she stands up and starts to leave the table because she has to use the bathroom. Her Dad yells at her to sit back down. He tells her “we don’t just get up from the dinner table, we wait and ask to be excused after everyone is finished eating.” She begins to protest, wanting to explain that she needs to use the bathroom. Her father becomes more upset with her and yells at her that she is now talking back and she is not allowed to say another word at the dinner table until everyone is finished eating and then she can be excused.

Unfortunately for Kate, she can’t hold it, and she has a little accident because she is too fearful to say a word to her Dad. She doesn’t want to get yelled at anymore. She also knows that in her home, kids don’t have a say. What Mom and Dad say is like words carved into stone. They are strict beyond reason and they will not bend their rules. Therefore, Kate felt that she had no choice in the matter and when she could no longer hold it. There was nothing she could do about it.

Kate’s parents are an example of authoritarian parenting. They are strict, they are not emotionally engaged with their children, and they have very high expectations for their children. This type of parenting style leaves children feeling disconnected from their parents.

Kate wanted to communicate to her parents that she had to use the restroom, but she couldn’t even get her words out because her parents have such strict rules and demands of her. They did not care to hear what she had to say, because upholding their rules was more important to them. In their household, a child’s opinions and feelings do not matter.

This kind of strict parenting is not helpful for children. It can damage a child and leave them with low self-esteem, mental health issues, and doing poor academically among other problems cited by research in Parenting Science.[1]

What Does Authoritarian Parenting Look Like?

In the 1960’s, a researcher and theorist by the name of Baumrind established the well known theory of parenting styles. Those four parenting styles, which are well known today, are authoritarian, authoritative, passive, and neglectful. For proactive parents that are trying hard to be good parents, they will usually lean toward either authoritarian or authoritative.

Authoritarian parenting involves strict parenting and high expectations for children. This can sound reasonable and even like good parenting. However, the strict parenting is often characterized by lack of compassion toward the child, little to no flexibility in rules, and complete control sought over the child’s behavior.

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Parents who use this parenting style believe it is their job to control the will and behavior of their children. An article in Psychology Today explains how authoritarian parents operate:[2]

Authoritarian parents believe that children are, by nature, strong-willed and self-indulgent. They value obedience to higher authority as a virtue unto itself. Authoritarian parents see their primary job to be bending the will of the child to that of authority—the parent, the church, the teacher. Willfulness is seen to be the root of unhappiness, bad behavior, and sin. Thus, a loving parent is one who tries to break the will of the child.

For example, Jake has authoritarian parents. He wants to stay out past curfew on a school night because he has an opportunity to play in a jazz ensemble. He has been playing the saxophone for years and his ambition is to play in a college jazz ensemble.

With Jake still being in high school, his parents have a curfew. On school nights, it is 8:00 pm. This rule is instituted because his parents believe they need to ensure that Jake gets his school work done each night and that he needs to be well rested for school the next day. However, they don’t explain the why of their rules to him, they simply tell him that those are their rules. The jazz ensemble is practicing at 8:00 pm on a Thursday night and they have invited Jake to come play with them. It is a well known group and a huge opportunity for Jake.

Unfortunately, his parents say no. Their authoritarian parenting style is unwavering. He wants to discuss the opportunity and its importance, but his parents will not even entertain the conversation. They stop him mid-sentence and go over their rules again. There is no flexibility.

If Jake’s parents had been authoritative, they would have taken the time to hear out his case and would likely have granted him a later curfew for that one instance. They would see that, although they have a curfew, there are some instances when an opportunity is worth bending the rules. They would ask that he has his homework done before going to play with the group, and that he come home as soon as the practice was finished.

Authoritative parents have rules, but they are also flexible based on reasonable requests for exceptions. The authoritative parents are interested in how their children are thinking and feeling. Conversely, authoritarian parents are not likely to be interested in hearing their child’s thoughts and feelings, because they want to control the will of their child, not come to some middle ground.

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Here are some characteristics of authoritarian parenting:

  • They have strict rules that are unyielding and unwavering. This is often called “heavy handed parenting.”
  • They do not want input from the child about rules. They also feel that the child’s opinion does not matter, because they are the parent thus are the supreme authority over the child.
  • There are severe punishments when rules are broken.
  • There is an emotional disconnection between parent and child, because the parent is not interested in what the child thinks or feels. They are more interested in controlling the behavior of the child and having the child be compliant to their rules.
  • Children are expected to listen to their parents and follow the rules, there are no exceptions. A child that voices their objections will likely be punished for doing so.
  • The parents have high expectations, especially when it comes to compliance of their rules.
  • Parents expect that their child will be obedient and they do not need to explain the “why” of their rules and expectations. Compliance is expected out of sheer obedience, not because the child understands the reasons why the rules are set. Parents do not feel the need to explain why they set their rules.
  • There is a failure to have attached relationships between parent and child because of the overly dominant nature of authoritarian parents and their unwillingness to allow their children to have their own voice or free will.

Authoritarian parents are driven by a belief that they need to control their children. This means controlling their children’s behavior to an extreme. They are inflexible and don’t take into account the child’s desires, emotions, or well-being as being as important to enforcing rules to get the desired outcome. Authoritative parents on the other hand, seek to guide and direct their children instead of control. There is a distinction.

The Problems of Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting has many negative consequences to children. Children who are raised in homes with extreme authoritarian parenting are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, have lower academic performance, and increased mental health issues according to Parenting for Brain.[3] Children who are raised with authoritarian parents are also more likely to have lower self esteem, inability to make decisive choices, and have social skills that are lacking.

When a child is raised to be taught day in and day out that their voice does not matter, then that child will likely be ingrained with that belief. They will not value their own opinions because they have been taught that what they think does not matter and is of no value. This leads to poor self-esteem and low self-worth.

If a child doesn’t believe that their thoughts matter, then what they think about themselves overall is going to be affected. They will not think highly of themselves or believe that what they think, say, or do is of value. This will contribute to low self-esteem long term.

Social skills will suffer because a child who comes from an authoritarian home will be trained to believe that nobody wants to hear their opinion and that relationships are based on compliance.

For example, Judy is raised in an authoritarian home. She is now 18 years old and has her first boyfriend. Anytime that he asks something of her, even if she internally disagrees, she feels that she is supposed to comply and do what he says in order for him to like her and continue wanting to be with her.

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He wants to have sex. She does not feel that she is ready, but she will not voice this to her boyfriend because she doesn’t think that her opinion will matter or that he will want to listen to what she is feeling. She goes along with sex in their relationship to be compliant. She doesn’t want to be punished by disagreeing with not having sex. He says that they are ready for that next step in the relationship and she fears that the consequence of saying no would be that he ends the relationship.

Therefore, she doesn’t even voice her thoughts or feelings on the situation because she doesn’t think they have value or will be heard anyway.

She has been taught by her parents that her opinions and feelings don’t matter. She has learned from the past 18 years with her parents that what matters most is that she is compliant. She gets along with her parents best when she is doing exactly what they want her to do. This is why she feels the need to do the same with her boyfriend.

Going along with his decisions, being compliant, and not voicing her feelings will keep the relationship going and avoid conflict or punishment. The ultimate punishment in her mind would be that he ends the relationship.

With her opinions never being valued by those who she has loved the most (her parents), she has learned that she should not voice her opinion if she wants to keep the other person in the relationship happy. In her mind, because of how she has been raised, compliance overrides all else, and her opinion is meaningless.

However, her boyfriend is not her parents. He is understanding and would want to know how she feels. He wants a long term relationship with her and he loves her so much. His true desire is for her to be happy. He would never want her to have sex if she wasn’t feeling the same way that he was feeling. He would gladly wait and would want to hear what she thinks and feels about taking their relationship to the next level.

Authoritarian parenting methods can inflict great harm on a child. The child becomes emotionally damaged because they grow up believing that their opinions, thoughts, and feelings do not matter. Instead they are taught that compliance and being obedient supersedes all else.

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The Solution

The solution is to move from authoritarian parenting methods to authoritative parenting practices.

Authoritative parenting has been deemed as the best parenting method by researchers, according to Psychology Today. Parents who use authoritative parenting methods have rules for their children, but they are not looking for blind compliance. They recognize that having a relationship with their child is of great importance and therefore valuing the child’s voice, opinions, and thoughts is important.

Authoritative parents seek to guide and direct their children, but they do not seek to control the will of their child.

Parenting Coach Plan explains the foundation of authoritative parenting as the following:[4]

Authoritative parenting can be described as a style of parenting that combines firm limits and clear boundaries with fair and consistent discipline. Authoritative parents are also nurturing, highly-involved, and willing to speak openly with their child regarding expectations and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. Rules are enforced and fair consequences are put in place for when those rules are broken.

Children raised in authoritative homes follow the rules because they understand the “why” of the rules. They are also bonded to their parents because they are able to talk to their parents openly. This bond helps nurture a positive home environment and a two-way relationship that can last a lifetime.

To learn more about how to be an authoritative parent and how to discipline a child using this parenting method, check out my article:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

Reference

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