Unlike new electronics, gadgets and toys, a new baby surely won’t come with a formal instruction manual – and that’s the scary part for most new dads.
It’s even more nerve-racking for us, Filipino dads, whose society dictates that the moms should be more hands-on than us, or risk being labeled “under the saya.” But truth is, parenting is a combined responsibility of both parents – with a few exceptions for parents working overseas or those doing double shifts.
Close to a decade ago, I became a first-time dad to a baby girl whom I welcomed with excitement and so much anxiety for I knew nothing about changing diapers or bathing a fragile baby. I felt unprepared and totally overwhelmed.The good thing is that rearing a child has been proven to be a continuous work in progress that only experience can hone with the help of people who truly care enough. I can personally attest to this as my wife and I, with the guidance of our respective families, have been loyal partners in raising our children from the time we felt like complete dummies until the present-day super parents we’d like to believe we are to our two adorable daughters.
Though no amount of reading and researching can really substitute for hands-on parenting, it’ll surely help to know the essentials of parenting from conception until God knows when the kids would be needing parental guidance and support.
This Online Dad Manual for the Hands-on Dad is my way of keeping dads sane amid the joys and struggles of parenthood especially in the early years.
Rule # 1: ASK. No dad knows everything. It’s perfectly normal to feel, uhm, for lack of a better term, ignorant. Just let things unfold as days and years go by and learn from them.
From Conception to Birth
The act of parenting officially commences NOT on the day of birth but as soon as the mom confirms the pregnancy. This holds true for the dad who has to make sure both the mom and that little beating heart inside of her receive all the love and care they need.
To begin with, all dads should try their best to at least be present during monthly medical consultations. Be the persons to remind the moms to follow religiously all prescriptions (such as Folic Acid, Iron and Calcium supplements, and multivitamins). Take charge of ensuring that all laboratory tests are performed within the recommended timeframe. As much as possible, attend pregnancy seminars and childbirth classes together. In short, share the pregnancy for its entire duration.
As the big day approaches, take the lead in preparing all things needed in the hospital. Whether or not you have both chosen to know the baby’s gender, it pays to be prepared with the essentials. Go with the color white – not only does it look clean but it also allows you to easily spot dirt or small insects near your little one. And it perfectly suits both genders, too.
Being pregnant has got to be one of the most challenging, albeit fulfilling, events in a woman’s life. As a husband and a dad, be always attentive to their needs, do not hesitate to show affection and concern, and your efforts will never go unnoticed.
Rule # 2: COMMIT. No dad has time for everything. However, the coming of a new baby is one special event that requires both the mom’s and dad’s full attention.