Dad not bonding with baby(30 Posts)
Any advice welcome. My DH has really been struggling to bond with our 5 month old, and doesn't even like her, let alone love her. He gets so cross when she cries and it breaks my heart. He really wanted a child but has found it much harder than expected. Anyone else had similar issues??
Cocco* - did your DH have early opportunities to feed and care for her or did he go out to work fairly soon after she was born?
I have a friend who is the same with his baby who is only a month or so older. He's really struggling and has privately said to me that he wishes he could talk to the health visitor about it but they never ask how he's doing
Is he actively trying to bond with her through caring for her? Is he willing to, eg, do all bath times or take her out for a walk every Saturday morning or take her for a few hours in the evening while you get a rest?
My dh was a bit like this with our first baby. Everyone was ready to judge but personally I think he had a male version of PND and found it hard to adjust to life with a baby. Rather than spend time with us he would delve in to work. It was a really tough and isolating time so you have my sympathy. Do you have much support apart from him?
The only thing I found helped was to make him spend time with our child. I found this hard at first and wanted him to do everything the way I did it but I learnt I had to let go and let him learn for himself. I would make excuses to go out somewhere that I couldn't take a baby to, go for sleepovers at my friends house. Anything that meant they were alone together.
5 years on and they have a good relationship now. We've had another baby since then and not had the same problems.
One of the problems is that Dads are not really actively engaged in the process until the baby arrives then a week off work and back to work and they are back into real life and wife is at home and the only time they interact is after work when they are tired. and already had a hard day and at weekends when mostly working people are looking forward to a rest.
I was at home a lot with DS1 and DS2 an did a lot of routine stuff early on and then when DW stopped breast feeding after a few months I could also do bottle feeding.
Its a big change in a family dynamic and a woman has had a whole 9 months of forming a bond before a chid is born.
I found our HV weird in that she clearly didnt have any experience of a Dad looking ater a baby and when she visisted and DW was out she fled quite quickly. There want any chance to talk really. Its a very female oriented process.
That's probably because it's mainly females that have babies ABetaDad1
Does he spend much time alone with her? Very often the father always has someone else around. Have you tried going out for an hour and leaving him to it?
He does things like bathing and changing her, but yes I am always there. I have also thought he might have a bit of PND if that exists in men. Our HV knows but has not offered any help for him. GP gave him antidepressants. I will try leaving him to it a bit more, but am a little worried as he is prone to getting very angry if she cries. I hope that things improve with time.
Roseberry - yes of course but nowadays we even have Govt agreeing that fathers should have access to parental leave and shock horror fathers even becoming the SAHP.
I know back when I was born 50 odd years ago my father didn't even turn up to the birth but times have moved on a bit.
Fresh - yes being left alone with a baby and finding your own way to care for it is something I did. DS1 I used to carry around in a pouch on my chest so I could talk to him and do other stuff at the same time. He used to have a squeeze of teabag in his milk while I had my cup of tea. I got my routine sorted. I figured out when he slept so I could cook tea, that sort of thing.
I imagine having a mother hovering around to swoop in the moment a baby starts crying means you never really get to figure out what to do and learn to deal with stuff.
If you removed yourself he would have no choice but to learn how to soothe her, just the same as you have had to. Unless you are worried about him potentially harming her it could be the best thing you could ever do.
Coco - I wonder if his anger is a kind of panic. He wants her stop crying but you cant just switch a baby off so he feel he cant control her and then he panics and gets angry.
Maybe the next time she is crying you sit with him and help him to deal with it and make sure he understands that when a baby cries its not the end of the world. The sound of a crying baby is designed to elicit a strong emotional response and some people are less able to deal with it.
He does sound as if he has PND.
This organisation was helpful for my husband - www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/help-and-information/pre-ante-and-postnatal-illnesses/dad's-and-depression.html#.Vw_aM8h4XCQ
I worked in a children's centre for a time specifically to target dads - it's such a female environment that it makes it really hard for them to crack and PND does exist, even for men, and I found that even professionals found that difficult to accept!!
I started a Saturday dads group and more inclusive groups at the centre during the week, would DH go to anything like that if they have it in your area?
It would probably really help him bond if he took her out to something like that without you.
I feel for you both as it really is hard.
If it helps, I (female) didn't bond with DS until he was about six months as I was so poorly with PND, he's 3 now and we're super close.
I am a little concerned when you say he gets angry but I'm willing to give benefit of the doubt and go with the panic theory. You wouldn't let him hurt or shake the baby of course.
If it's just panic - does it help if he has a kind of checklist of things he can try when she is crying? I remember something I was given in antenatal classes which was "the 5 Ss" which are explained here: happiestbaby.com/using-the-5-ss/
'Very angry' doesn't sound good.
What's he struggling with in particular? The noise she makes? The sleepless nights?
Oh - one thing in that link is rubbish, you don't need a special white noise CD for ssssh, just repeat the sound, like waves. Sssssh ssssssh sssssh ssssh etc. And it doesn't matter if you do it "exactly right". They are just things to try. Personally I found a wide swing/sway was excellent.
Sorry, should have read the link first! I didn't realise it was basically an advert for their book, DVD and CD.
My DP used to get really annoyed when DS was crying but he was actually annoyed because I was floating round him telling him what to do he felt like I was hanging over him judging him for not being as good as me, maybe part of me was I was always tempted to say give him to me I'm afraid. The only thing I think will help is to totally back off let him do things his way go out and let them get on tell him your going to back off and let him figure it out without you bugging him, it shows that you trust him and you have faith in him. I'm so glad I did because DP and DS are great together I could go away all weekend without the slightest worry they would miss me or struggle.
a number of separate issues here, I think:
possible depression- he may need treatment
unused to caring for baby on his own- this can only be sorted by your withdrawal; you also need to have a certain amount of flexibility about the "right" way of doing things; he needs to be allowed to make decisions too
thinking you need to feel a special connection to be a good father- absolutely not true, love is an active verb, fake it till you make it is fine and is what lots of mothers do
getting angry when she cries- normal
showing anger when she cries- not acceptable
He needs to accept that while he may not be able to control his feelings he absolutely can control his actions, including the way he speaks. Some simple little trick when he gets wound up may help: I used to sing loudly. It may help if you remind him that the baby's crying is not a reflection on him, that he doesn't have to make it stop, that babies sometimes just do cry because they are little and don't quite know what they want, that a non-crying baby isn't some kind of test he has to pass.
The not bonding wouldnt bother me my dh was better when our babies could do more but the getting angry would how does that show in him ? Crying babies are frustrating of course but getting angry is worrying not that I think he would harm the baby
DH had minor anxiety/PND and he was practically laughed out of the GP's office. But luckily he still referred him for a mental health plan and so he had a few counselling sessions and learned some coping techniques.
His issues were not coping with the irrationality of a baby - crying for 'no reason', unable to be settled quickly, lack of sleep generally.
I do think it's a really big adjustment for both parents and people do not give dads the time or credit needed to go through the change.
DH would start crying himself if DS was unable to be settled within five minutes, which meant I was unable to have a break because I knew if I left the upset baby with dad I would have two crying people soon after!
DH is far from perfect now (like me, we are a bit short tempered at times) but he is 1000% better than those first few weeks.
There's so much pressure on dads now to be 'hands on' etc. BUt I think a lot of men just aren't wired to do the baby stuff, but find it difficult to admit (to themselves and others) because everywhere they look it appears to be all doting dads.
My DH has really really struggled with our first DC. (To be fair to him, he always told me he was going to find it tough). We slept in separate rooms (me with baby) for the first 8 months. But just sit it out if you can. As your baby grows up, and becomes more interactive, I'd be very surprised if it didn't get better and you didn't see the 'green shoots' of some kind of loving relationship. But it doesn't always happen overnight.
My dh was sort of like this with my 3 dc he couldn't really cope with /understand the baby phase in reality it was boring for him. I've no doubt he loved them but found the looking after a bit of a chore and would pass back to Me at any opportunity.
However once they get a bit older and can interact more he's very hands on he probably does more with the older 2 dc than I do. As she grow their bond will grow as awful as it sounds she's probably a bit boring for him at the minute, once she's toddling and talking you won't get a look in at least that's my experience anyway
Parsley, I really don't think all women are wired to do baby stuff either: I certainly don't remember any magical nappy-changing wiring switching into action in my case. It's just that they tend to think they have got to do it, and no one is going to hang around waiting until they feel they know what they are doing: if the woman of the house doesn't do her bit there is no one to pick up the slack.
And all the stuff about the poor men finding babies a bit boring, so you can't really expect too much of them. I found a lot of the baby stuff MIND BOGGLINGLY boring- but nobody is going to want to hear about that, because I'm a woman.
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