I’ve heard a lot through my own research and through conversations at my boot camps for new dads classes a concern about bonding with the child. This doesn’t seem to be as big of a concern in the moms community from what I’ve gathered, but seems to be fairly prevalent among guys. Perhaps it’s because guys are often encouraged to be tough, to not show feelings and aren’t asked to be nurturing. Perhaps it’s because a lot of guys don’t necessarily spend a lot of time around young kids growing up and don’t know quite what to do. Whatever the reason bonding is incredibly important as you raise your children and kids need time to bond with each of their parents so I wanted to give a couple of suggestions on how parents can bond with their kids with a couple of things that have really worked for me.
Diaper changes? Diaper changes! First of all, this is important to endearing yourself to your spouse or partner. If one person changes all the diapers and the other does none you can be the one changing all the diapers is not very happy. Domestic happiness aside, this really is a great time to bond with your child. In order to change a diaper you have to place the child down on their back, which means they’ll probably be looking straight up and directly into your eyes. And let me tell you there is not much better than your baby looking right up at you with those big eyes and staring in wonder. Yes, the diaper change itself is not glamorous and perhaps you are the lucky one getting to change a diaper that has been blown out, but most of the time changing a diaper is a chance to bond with your child. You can just look at them, play peek-a-boo, give tummy kisses or tickles, babble back and forth or whatever you enjoy doing with your child…just make sure not to miss this opportunity to feel closer to them while you have a captive audience.
This is where some of the absolute best bonding occurs. Sometimes bedtime can be really difficult and stressful, especially if they are fighting you, but I know that some of the most heartwarming moments I’ve had with my kids have come at bedtime. With babies, holding and rocking them while singing or talking to them is a great bonding moment. Just like with diaper changes their eyes are often looking right up at you, focused on what you’re doing. Frequently they are trying so hard to keep their eyes open and look at you, but are too tired so their eyelids keep drooping a little bit, then popping open then drooping again and it just one of the cutest things you’ll ever see. Plus there is quite literally no accomplishment that feels better than soothing a screaming baby who just doesn’t want to fall asleep.
For toddlers and older kids you get the chance to talk with them in a more quiet and calm state. Our bedtime routine often involves reading or me telling a “jojo story” (yes jojo as in fried potatoes) that I make up on the spot. I then pray out loud for him and get some real nice cuddles. This is also when I hear a lot of the cute and heartwarming things he says. I definitely get more “I love you’s” and “you’re the best daddy” at this time than any other point in the day. The other night he told me that I should probably shave when I left the room because I was really “pokey” 😊
There are plenty of times and activities when I have felt closeness and a bond with my children, but I can say without a doubt that some of my best moments and where my heart has felt most full for my children have come when I was changing a diaper or telling them good night.
So I encourage all you parents out there: get your hands dirty (literally) and make sure to be involved with the bedtime routine. I think you’ll find it hard not to start to really develop or improve your bond with them during these times.
This is fatherhood…