Subject: Does attachment parenting leave
"What can fathers do to build a special bond with their baby, when
it is the wife who gets to do all the feeding? Does attachment parenting
have to leave out the fathers?"
Naomi Aldort replies:
I admire fathers who ask this question because it comes from wanting to
give more and from being very loving. Fathers are very important for the
optimal growth and attachment of the child, and there are many ways for a
father to build a bond with his child. Nursing is not one of them - but
fathers are very much needed, as fathers.
Can you imagine talking about sharing pregnancy with the father so he
has this experience too? Nature didn't make a mistake. The baby grows up
in his mother's body, he then "graduates" to the outer body, and
then very gradually, he includes other people. The father, as the first
and most present "other person" is the bridge, the support and
the model. We need not change nature and give Dad a bottle in hand.
Instead of complaining that he cannot be a mother, we can celebrate that
he is privileged to be the father.
The father is very much needed in the early years. He is needed in the
role of connecting the child to the rest of the world. He is the one who
builds a bond that is not related to survival, which allows the child to
relate to a person for the sake of the relationship. The father is
therefore the "safe bridge" toward the rest of society.
Practically speaking, Dad can do a lot: in addition to nurturing Mom,
he can do everything other then nursing. Dad can change diapers, bathe,
carry, hold, rock, sing, read books, play, and more. He can build the
baby's trust and bond with him. However, most of the time his contact with
the baby needs to be in the presence of Mom until it is obvious that the
baby delights in spending time alone with him.
A family can spend a lot of time as a group of three (more when there
are more children), loving, intimate and nurturing. If too often when the
baby sees Dad, he loses Mom, he may resent and fear him, and try to avoid
him. Fathers need to be the connection, not the disconnection.
Finding the balance means being in tune with the child. Most babies
will prefer Mom no matter what Dad does. But that is Nature's design, and
it is exactly what the baby needs for optimal attachment and growth.
Father is needed to nurture and support this bond and to embrace both
mother and child.
Babies are not here to fulfill the parents' needs; attachment parenting
is about meeting the needs of the baby. The only one who is
"selfish" is the baby as she should be. Meeting the needs
of the baby does meet our need, though it may not be obvious. It fulfills
our need to expand our spiritual being, and to learn to let go of our
expectations for ourselves. We also feel nurtured by meeting the baby's
needs, for her sake. This benefits both parents in their quest for
becoming more loving, compassionate, and conscious human beings.