parent opinion

'Mum's exhausted so change EVERY diaper.' A dad's letter to his younger, childless self.

I’m now 29 and have three kids with my wife who carried and birthed them all like a pro.

Here’s what I would tell my childless 20-year-old self about how to be a supportive partner during the “becoming parents” phase:

1. Wifey carried baby IN her belly for nine months. So you carry baby ON your belly for nine months every chance you get. Not only does it help her recover but it bonds you to your kid more than imaginable.

2. Wifey is breastfeeding and — while beautiful and fulfilling for her — it’s exhausting. So you change EVERY diaper you can. From diaper #1 onward. You will get over the grossness fast. And you will prevent imbalances and resentment in the relationship; in fact, when all your wife’s friends are complaining about how absent and unsupportive their husbands are, your wife will be bragging about you.

3. Make her the decaf coffee every morning. Even if she leaves it cold and forgets to drink it most mornings because she falls back asleep while you’re working or (later) taking the kids to school. She was up all night feeding the baby so help start her day in a way that helps her reset.

 

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4. Tell her she is beautiful and help her see that in the moments when she is feeling most self-critical and hopeless about her body. Remind her of times when she achieved goals in the past. Remind her she is a superhero. She literally just moved all her organs around and gained 20 kilograms to give you a child that will be a gift to you for the rest of your life. Help her see past her body image issues and stay focused on a positive goal, one day at a time.

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5. Take the heat. Hormones are crazy, both pre and post-birth. She won’t seem like herself every day and sometimes she will say things she wouldn’t say if she didn’t feel like she was hungover, caffeinated, and on steroids every day. Remember your job is to be her rock through all of this, so toughen up and keep perspective when her tongue is sharper than you know her best self intends. Normal will return soon and you want her to be grateful that you kept it together when she wasn’t, not resentful and disappointed that you hijacked her emotions by making her problems yours.

Continue reading other advice Ted would tell his 24-year-old self in this Instagram post.

 

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My “what I’d tell my childless 24 year old self about how to be a supportive pre/postnatal partner” post now has millions of likes/shares, and thousands of open-hearted strangers have messaged with reactions/questions.???? .⠀ They’re primarily from new parents on the same few themes, so here are the biggest, along with advice that I’d give to my childless 24yo self: .⠀ 1. Gratitude from women saying the post helped them initiate a crucial conversation about gender roles with their partner, without making him feel attacked.???? .⠀ Don’t leave it to your wife to initiate this conversation; open the space to explore what role each of you wants to play as you become parents. Relieve the topic’s tension so it doesn’t explode on you later.???????? .⠀ Push each other to think about a “family vision”, considering both of your desires equally, then work backward from that shared vision to plan how you’ll manifest that reality together.???????? .⠀ 2. Shock at the idea that I had kids in my 20s – lots of people called it crazy and even “dumb.”????⠀ .⠀ Don’t listen to people who say you’re ruining your life by having kids young.???????? .⠀ What matters more than age:⠀ .⠀ You and your partners’ shared belief that you can grow stronger together through challenges.???? .⠀ Your conviction that you want to bring life into this world and give more love than you’ve ever given before.???????? .⠀ Your courage to ask family, friends, colleagues, and strangers for support.????‍♂️ .⠀ Your willingness to check your ego and adapt into who the world needs you to be. ✨ .⠀ With these you’ll always find a way to pay for rent and diapers, get another degree, find your next step.???? .⠀ And btw, being a young parent is awesome!✊ .⠀ 3. Many women shared that their lives were ruined by weak and selfish men, yet I also saw so many women tag their partners to say “thank you for being my rock!” I often hear people talk about “the lack of good men out there” but seeing so many dads being publicly acknowledged by their appreciative partners made me feel more optimistic about the state and future of masculine culture.???? .⠀ Advice: Be the kind of man that improves the reputation of men.???? ⠀⠀ Continued below! Tag a friend ????????????????

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This post was republished with full permission.

Ted Gonder is a dad of three boys with his wife, Franzi, and you can follow him on Instagram here.

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