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Experts Corner

Family Counseling

Getting Husband More Involved
by Eileen Paris, Ph.D., M.F.C.C. and Thomas Paris, Ph.D., M.F.C.C.

Eileen Paris and Tom ParisQ. I feel as if I'm going through this pregnancy alone. How can I get my husband more involved?

A. Obviously, because the miraculous and dramatic process of fetal development takes place within a woman's body, mothers have a special relationship with their unborn babies that fathers cannot share. This can lead to men feeling sensitive and left out. We encourage you to initiate a discussion with your husband about his feelings. Men need to know that feelings of fear, worry and anxiety are normal. Encourage your husband's involvement. Let him know you need him. Learn about your developing child together. Perhaps ask your husband to be the "hunter and gatherer" of information. For example, ask him to help you find answers to questions like:

  • What is occurring to the developing fetus at two months or at six months?
  • When will movement begin?
  • When does hearing begin, or sight and the sense of touch or even learning?

All of these monumental aspects of life begin during pregnancy, not after birth. Two excellent books to begin with are A Child Is Born, by Lennart Nilsson, and The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, by Dr. Thomas Verny. An equally good video is "The Miracle of Life." One simple and fun way your husband can initiate the bonding process during pregnancy is by playing the tapping game. Each time you feel your "prenate" kick, your husband can respond by tapping your stomach in the same area. Your "prenate" will quickly learn this "call and response" game. In addition, your husband can talk to the baby, allowing the child to learn his voice. This will strengthen their relationship. Your child will recognize and already know your voices before birth. This is very comforting to a newborn.

What effect will all this involvement have on the baby? T. Berry Brazelton, a noted authority on childrearing, has found that the more involved the father is during the first two months, the more socially responsive the baby is and better able to withstand stressful situations. The more involved the father has been after six months, the higher the baby scores in motor development. Clearly, our new babies benefit by their fathers' active involvement. We are suggesting that when bonding occurs before birth, your husband's involvement in the baby's early life is much more likely.

Becoming a father is a challenge and an opportunity. Becoming an active and involved father during pregnancy gives children the best insurance for a head start in life.

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