Not sure if such a manual for fatherhood really exists.
Here is my attempt, without the pictures, a 21- step guide for ways in which you can stay connected to your child from pre-birth to adolescence.
For some guys this is a confusing time as they struggle to find a way of relating with their unborn baby. Here are some useful ways to stay close to your unborn child.
Read books and go online to research your baby’s progress and development through the pregnancy.
Attend doctor’s appointments with your partner. At 3 or 4 months you get to hear your baby’s heart beat. Listen carefully.
Nowadays we can see babies move in utero, check out the photos and videos now available at the ultrasound appointments. Put a photo in your wallet.
At around 6 months you will be able to feel your baby kick in your partners stomach.
If you lie in the ‘spoon’ position with your arms wrapped around your partner’s stomach, you will both be able to enjoy the movements of your baby!
Your baby can hear stuff. Get him/her to know the sound of your voice and start chatting and singing as often as you can.
Start thinking about what he/she might look like or sound like.
Becoming clear about your role at the birth of your baby. Create a birthing plan to delineate and define both you and your partner’s hopes. Be present to this process alongside your partner. Make use of the support available from doctors and midwives.
Focus on and maintain a warm, welcoming emotional relationship with your unborn child.
Babies need security and predictability. They get this when their mother and father respond to their cries, smiles and noises promptly, consistently and appropriately.
Here are some ideas how to create a bond with the baby.
Babies love being skin to skin. Take off your shirt and put the baby on your chest. Massage her gently; caress her arms, legs, hands and feet. Creating a safe, warm physical relationship is a great way to show love and care.
Cradle your baby in your arms at about chest level, and you’ll be at the right spot for connecting visually.
Babies love music. They find a soothing spirit when you sing and dance with them. Put some music on and hold your baby while you dance. Lullabies can be a real bonding experience also as you sing your baby to sleep.
Fathers often skip visits to the pediatrician. Take the time off work to go with your partner and baby to the doctor. This is a good time to learn more about your baby and how she is doing.
Many parts of your baby’s routine can be taken care of by you. Consider giving your baby a bath, changing nappies, taking him on a walk, playing with him, or feeding him from time to time.
The very nature of the bonding process between baby and father can take longer than the process of bonding between baby and mother. Don’t get discouraged as the process develops; the feelings of bonding are worth the wait, and will pay big dividends later.
Pick up your baby and start following some of these ideas.
Your toddler needs nurture and care. They need encouragement to explore and be guided by you to set appropriate limits and boundaries.
Playing with your child can be entertaining and great fun. Provide a safe yet challenging arena for them to learn how to interact with the world and with others. Rough and tumble play is important to establish both limits and boundaries. Encourage your child to explore their own strength and their ability to try new things.
Being engaged and affectionate with your child will help them to get on well with their siblings and other children. Stay emotionally involved with your child. Support them in acknowledging their feelings and help them deal with bad feelings.
THE SCHOOL YEARS.
At school age your child will begin to grasp learning more adult like skills, testing them out and dealing with feelings of success and failure. Accomplishing goals and mastering skills is important for your child’s self-esteem.
Your influence as a father is to challenge your child to try new experiences and become more independent in a positive manner. Help them learn new skills, and take responsibility for their own actions.
Be actively involved and interested in your child’s education, social life, sporting and recreational life.
Consistent, reliable attention and care will greatly shape and support your child’s adjustment to new experiences, have stable emotions, and know how to get along with others.
Try not to discourage, be too restrictive, impatient or impose your own solutions. These responses can hamper your child’s creativity, motivation and problem solving development.
Adolescents and teenagers are focused on their personal identity and deepening their social relationships. They will spend more time away from you.
Focus on your teenagers’ beliefs, values, and plans for the future. Fathers sometimes pull away from their teenager because they want to instil a sense of independence. However, it’s important to remain connected at this time. Teenagers rely on regular conversation, advice, guidance and a sense of your availability.
All the developmental stages of childhood growth have their joys and challenges.
Your child’s developmental milestones will challenge both you and your partner’s parenting abilities and emotional connection you have with your child.
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