Most parents desire a strong, life-long bond with their children. Too often, fathers don't understand that strong bonds begin before birth. In fact, many fathers do not interact on any consistent level with their baby until the child can walk and talk. Fathers need to understand that the first couple years of a child's life is critical to bonding well. In these years a baby is learning at a rate of speed that makes most adults’ head spin.
Many studies show that mothers are no more “bonded" with their baby at birth than the father. Yes, Mom has carried the baby for forty weeks, but once the baby enters this world, Mom and Dad begin on the same foot, at the same level. Way too often, men take a back seat to interaction with their children for the first two years. This is one of the biggest mistakes a father can make.
Another is to rely on the fact that your love, as a father, will carry the bonding aspect of life forward into the baby's teenage and adult years. There is only one thing that will bond a father to his child, and it is not love. It is time.
I'm not saying you don't need love, but if you don't take the time to convey the love, your child will never know your love. Fathers have been distant for too many generations. If you want your child to grow up and lean on you for advice and support, invest the time now before she is born. Go to Mom's doctor appointments. Go to Lamaze classes. Learn about your baby and what Mom is going through. Connect with your baby through Mom. Be there when she's born. Cut her umbilical cord through your tears of amazement at the miracle of birth.
Be there to hold your baby in the first minutes, days, weeks, months years and decades of her life. Give her your time as she grows and learns about life on this crazy planet. Read to her, sing to her, dance with her, teach her sign language (while you learn yourself). Sacrifice some of your time to bond with someone that will love you forever for your effort.
With all that was mentioned in that last paragraph, none of it will happen without you freely giving your time. Get away from our society's mantra that says selfishness is the standard of the day. Give your time. Give it from your heart. Don't just tell your baby you love her, show her. There is no substitute for your time. No card, no purchase, no apology will carry the day when you find a teenager you don't know standing before you. What you invest early in her life will manifest itself in a close or distant relationship later in her life.
I believe most fathers desire a strong relationship with their children. Many don't have a clue though, how to get there. The crazy thing is, the answer is not difficult. Just spend time with your baby. Begin before she is born. Continue EVERYDAY for the rest of her life. Your responsibility for your child does not end at eighteen. In fact, I have found that once your baby is out on her own, you are just as critical in her life as you were in that delivery room. That kind of relationship is built day by day, minute by minute from the very beginning of her existence. Give your time and your love will be known on a level you could never hope to achieve through any other means. Time - it is by far your most precious gift to your baby. Give it freely and give it often.
Michael Ray King http://www.michaelrayking.com
I am the father of six wonderful children, ages 2, 9, 11, 13, 21 and 26. With four girls and two boys, I've seen, heard and learned quite a bit. My first book, “Fatherhood 101: Bonding Tips for Building Loving Relationships" was published June, 2008. The book covers the critical bonding years of pre-birth through toddler. To get your copy, go to http://www.clearviewpressinc.com or look it up on Amazon.com