Expectations and Roles for New Parents
Bringing home a new baby can be one of the most exciting times in a couple’s relationship. After months of waiting the baby arrives and all of a sudden a new little life is part of your world. The weeks and months following birth can be a stressful time, as each partner struggles with the realities of baby care and the routine household chores and tasks. Couples who talk about their expectations and who will do what before they bring their baby home may help reduce some of this early stress.
New parents often feel overwhelmed as they discover that it can be impossible to keep up with all of the roles that they had previously. Chores and social obligations may suffer and, ultimately, both parents experience these new pressures. Whether it is the parent staying home with the new baby or the partner still going to work, both often feel exhausted and stressed because they are significantly impacted by these new responsibilities. If couples don’t talk about life with the baby and who will do what, it can become a source of resentment and tension. The issue of changing expectations and roles is a natural one for many families as they adapt to the baby in their lives, but many parents are surprised at how much friction occurs in the first few months after baby is home.
“Talking about expectations and roles before the baby is born can help ease so much of the tension,” says Karon Foster, a parenting expert from Invest in Kids. “This is a great way to avoid unspoken assumptions about who will do what and can make for a much easier transition. Try to agree on how things within the household will be managed, such as what chores are absolutely necessary, who will do what chores, and how you will share the tasks of your baby’s care.”
Sometimes, couples have expectations based on how they were raised or what they are used to seeing. This can lead to assumptions such as it being a woman’s job to take care of the baby or that moms should automatically be able to do everything right with the baby. These days, there is often more equality in the parenting role, but moms statistically still take on more of the workload. By talking about roles and responsibilities couples can look at ways that they can support each other so that even if mom (or dad) is taking on more of a childcare role they know that their partner is going to be there to help in other ways.
While total equality may be unrealistic, it is important for parents to create a plan that works for them.
Invest in Kids’ new Prenatal Corner has even more information on how couples can prepare for the transition to parenthood. There are articles for mom, dad and the couple to help you feel more knowledgeable, confident and supported as you become the parent you dream of being. Visit www.investinkids.ca to find out more.
Invest in Kids is a national charity dedicated to transforming the way Canadian parents are educated and supported. Our vision is a country where all parents are the parents they dream of being, all children reach their full potential and parents and children are valued and supported in the communities in which they live and work. Visit www.investinkids.ca for more information, tips and activities for parents with young children.