Becoming a dad changes your life forever. Yet, many fathers of newborns and toddlers are left to navigate this new territory without specific guidance or support. What are the most common challenges new dads face? What are their biggest fears? And what are some simple tips to help this transition into parenthood while strengthening the bond with mom?
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
“Basic Training for New Dads”
(00:00:00) Start of Audio
Dr. Danny Singley: Becoming a father is a life-changing event.
New dads experience excitement and face many often unanticipated new challenges. But most books, workshops and support groups are geared towards the needs of moms and the perspective of new moms and so fathers, newborns and toddlers are usually left to navigate the territory without much specific guidance or support. So what does it take to be an awesome dad? I’m Danny Singley and this is Parent Savers, Episode 20.
Owen Hemsath: Welcome to Parent Savers, the coolest online show about parenting and we are broadcasting from the Birth Education Center in San Diego. I’m your guest host for today and frequent panelist. My name is Owen Hemsath, and if you like Tech, you are going to love our new Mobile Apps, where you can take the Parent Savers show with you wherever you go. Now available in the Amazon Android Market and the iTunes Apps Store, you can listen to your favorite episode in the car or at the gym and get instant access to our most recent episodes and our Social Networking Sites.
As a matter of fact, go to Facebook right now, look up Parent Savers and like us, leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you. Now as a big fan of the show myself, I also urge you to visit our website at http:// www.parentsavers.com and subscribe to the Parent Savers Newsletter. It’s an awesome newsletter, we love it a lot in my house, featuring exclusive behind the scenes content from the show, special giveaways, discounts and more. Do I qualify for the giveaways? I hope so. I want some free stuff. Visit our website: http://www.parentsavers.com for more information.
Again, my name is Owen; I’m a video marketer and web designer in Ocean Side. I’m also a new dad. Benjamin, my son was born four weeks ago and I also have a 14-month-old named Jameson and a five-year-old named Kanan, and he just started kindergarten. Today, I’m joined by some of my favorite people and close friends. We’ve got Johner, Colin and Benjamin here. You guys want to say hi?
Johner Riehl: Yeah. Hi, I’m Johner Riehl, I’m 38, I’m a freelance writer and I have three boys as well. A five-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old.
Collin Rand: Hi. My name is Colin Rand, I’m 32 years old and I have two very exciting and energetic boys. Lucas is five and Jackson, we call him Jackie, he’s two.
Ben Martin: Hey. My name is Benjamin, I’m 26. I run a business in Ocean Side. I have one two-month-old adorable little girl and that’s why I’m so short on sleep right now Owen. You cover me. [Laughs]
Owen Hemsath: Yeah. No, and I know, I got..., I got you up early today for this.
Ben Martin: I know, you dragged me out of bed, man, this is ridiculous!
Owen Hemsath: And I know ..., I know Colin and Benjamin very well. We’ve known each other for a long time. Johner I’ve known for a few hours and you seem like an amazing guy, so....
Johner Riehl: You too, Owen.
Owen Hemsath: I’m stoked to have you guys here and I’m pretty excited to dig into the show today, but before we start, here’s a word from Parent Savers expert, Jennifer Shear with some tips on how to handle the emotional side of parenting.
[Featured Segments: The Emotional Side of Parenting -Couples Adjusting to a New Baby]
Jennifer Shear: Hello Parent Savers, I’m Dr. Jennifer Shear a Clinical Psychologist with a practice in San Diego. One of my specialties is working with women, during pregnancy and throughout the transition to motherhood. Today’s segment is about common adjustments that couples go through with a new baby. When baby is born, it is never again just you and me. The dyad expands to a triad. There is often a sense of loss even as there is simultaneous excitement about growing your family.
It is helpful to remember that mothers and fathers often experience this transition differently and at different times. Make the transition conscious by talking about it. When baby is born there is a healthy and yet temporary pre-occupation on caregiving baby. It is perfectly normal for new moms and dads to be focused on strengthening and defining these rules for themselves. And they are often different. Some men are natural care-takers and want to be very involved in the process. Other men may become very focused on their role as a financial provider.
Try to think about where your partner gains esteem for this new role as mother or father and try to understand that if the focus or attention on each other is not what you are used to, things are still fine. Rather than experiencing these changes as rejection or an indicator that something is wrong, it shows the enormous energy you are both putting into defining brand new parts of yourself and you are doing it under minimal sleep. And speaking of minimal sleep, sexual intimacy and sleep deprivation are not a very good mix. So try to be gentle with yourselves and trust that you will find a natural rhythm with one another after the hard work of learning your baby’s rhythms are firmly established. Thanks for tuning in to Parent Savers. It is my hope that having a greater understanding of common couple adjustments will help to normalize some of the changes that come with the new baby. And keep listening for more episodes on How to Thrive as a New Parent.
Owen Hemsath: Today on Parent Savers our guest Danny Singley is here. Danny is a psychologist and head-honcho at http://www.newdadclass.com where he teaches parenting classes for ..., for men. It’s a basic training course, right? For new dads. Danny, welcome to the show? Hey, how did you come up with the idea for a New Dads Class?
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, as with most psychologists, I think it’s all about me and it really began ...
Dr. Danny Singley: when I was an honorary mother. You know, research is "me search" and it started when my wife was pregnant with our older boy. I’ve got two boys, five and eight now and when we went through the process of taking classes and checking out resources for newly expectant parents, it was all about mom and the message I got was, you know, supporting her is the best thing you can do even when you have a baby, and so being a fairly entitled white male, I thought to myself,you know, I think I have something to offer directly to my baby and he was born and that turned out to be the case, but I sort of turned around and said alright, I want to come up with some ways to help dads to be directly involved with their babies as well as their partners.
Owen Hemsath: Now, were you super confident during the pregnancy? I mean, I was certainly like “Hey, I’m going to raise this kid! Like, you know, they used to live in the jungle, like we’re...” it didn’t occur to me to take a class. Were you super confident or did you recognize that there were some weaknesses in your own knowledge about how to handle a new child?
Dr. Danny Singley: It depended on what day you asked me and you know, what elements of it. One of the things that did keep happening was, I would even..., good friends of ours and family members would come and my wife and I would be sitting there and they would look at her and say, “You are going to flower as a woman. It’s going to be the most amazing chapter in your life.” And they would look at me and be like, “You are screwed! You will never surf again!”
Dr. Danny Singley: You know and so sometimes I would get stuff like that. You know, it’s a joke, but there are a lot of messages, a lot of ways that men get that message about what parenthood is going to be like. But thankfully, that has not been the case.
Owen Hemsath: Sure.
Ben Martin: Interesting. Yeah, help me out here. What kind of things do you cover in basic training for new dads?
Dr. Danny Singley: So, the basic training itself is...., it consists of two classes. One is the Expectant Dads' Class and in that one, we have a group of between six and ten dads that come down to the class and they are all in their third trimester and we go over a series of points. One of them I call the ...., you know, The Expectant Dads Check List, which is, things that expectant dads, typically by virtue of socialization, just never do. I make them do them. And so there are things like Set Up A Weekly, I call it, ”The Summit Meeting Check-In”, with their partner to keep the relationship strong and be proactive about communication. I’m a shrink and so it’s all about talking....
Johner Riehl: Like between the husband and the wife type of situation?
Dr. Danny Singley: Exactly.
Johner Riehl: Okay.
Dr. Danny Singley: Because marital satisfaction typically takes a big hit first eight to 12 months after the birth, but there’s a lot that you can do to .....
Ben Martin: I don’t know what you mean!
Dr. Danny Singley: I know, right. The candy store closes and everything changes right?
Dr. Danny Singley: You know, and there are other things like you know, go interview the Pediatrician. You take points. Go interview mom. What do you want from the Pediatrician? Everybody is so super-focused on the birth and not so much on afterward. So dad can cowboy up, go interview her, go do the first round of interviewing the Pediatricians and then come back and do the other stuff.
Johner Riehl:I love to hear you say because, I got very proactive with the Pediatrician and my..., at the point now, when my wife asked me to leave the room.
Johner Riehl: Because I’m like..., I’m like, “Can you show me the study?” I’m like, “It looks like, you know, some big pharmaceutical company paid for all the advertisement in here doctor, what do have to say about that?”
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, see, you’re... you’re the enlightened dad, so....
Dr. Danny Singley: So we cover things like that in the expectant dads class and we also get down to real brass tacks like you know, folks want to know about Core Blood Banking and getting a Doula, a midwife or daddy nesting ...
Johner Riehl: That’s great.
Dr. Danny Singley: ....and then we hit the actual birth, and then we have, you know, the fourth trimester, and we have the veteran dad that’s already been through the class, comes back for the last 30 minutes of it. So he’s gone through the class, he’s had the kiddo, the dust simple center has settled. And now, here’s what our birth plan was, here’s how the birth actually went down and here’s what it’s like for me these days. It’s typically, it’s not Dr. Singley’s inspired brilliance that they want to talk about on the evaluation, it’s hearing some veteran dads and connecting with other dads that are in the same situation.
Johner Riehl: Yeah.
Collin Rand: I’m kind of in the same boat that Owen though, is I find myself to be very proactive and sometimes, I get to the point where my opinion becomes a prideful thing. But I’ve definitely seen some people surpass my proud points and how do you deal with that and you know, what have you done to deal with sometimes a..., for lack of a better term, “an unruly dad?”
Dr. Danny Singley: You mean dads that come in and it sort of “My way or the highway!” kind of thing?
Collin Rand: “I’m going to show Danny what..., you know.... Oh, he has no idea what being a dad is. This is the way to be a dad!” you know and you go, “Okay, you...., good-luck with that kind of thing!” you know?
Dr. Danny Singley: Yeah, typically the ones that I have found to be the most challenging are, the dads who, for whatever reason, they’re..., they just don’t seem to want to be engaged in the process. And you can’t make somebody want that.
Ben Martin: Kind of like you know, my dad wasn’t...., you know, he worked for 18 hours a day in the coal mines and you know, that’s the way I’m going to do it. And that’s what...., I turned out fine! You know, that sort of thing.
Dr. Danny Singley: Exactly. And that there are plenty of vestiges of that sort of “Old School”, Aussi-inherent mentality. It’s one of the things that, for a few hours, the New Dads Generation Gap at this point. Stereotypically, New Dads of this generation had dads that weren’t very engaged until, you know, Timmy was old enough to throw a ball. And he would go off in his role in the hole, fair was being a pocket and then earner. But these days, society expects dads to be very involved and very emotionally available, right from the get-go. When, even with a baby, and so in the stress of adjusting, because there is some stress, for any adjustment, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming though, if dad goes on auto-pilot and what his model was and disengages as opposed to really staying in there, he’s going to
get dinged. It’s going to be a problem.
Collin Rand: Well, it’s an interesting thing that you bring up about society expecting because I turn on the TV and I see dads or a bunch of dummies, and stuck in the mini-blinds, kind of like, you know wife is spoon feeding stuff you know what I mean. So there aren’t any media-models.
Johner Riehl: Where do you..., yeah, where do you think that comes from, that this need now for dads to be and feel so engaged comes from? Is it a reaction to maybe a lot of dads not being there for us? Or?
Dr. Danny Singley: Could be. Social tides will turn. But there is a very prevalent stereotype in popular media of the sort of bumbling dad who..., or either dad’s absent or dad just can’t get it right and I think some of it goes back to really “old” and I would say, “inaccurate” stereo-types about “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” and I hear over and over again from dads, especially, expectant dads, I feel so bad for when we have the new baby, there’s going to be nothing that I can do. But the reality is, we can do everything that moms can do with one important exception and we are hardware challenged and that’s just the case. But we can swaddle, we can soothe, we can, you know, give mom...., there are so many things that we can do and sometimes, it takes a while for the light bulb to go on for dad to realize “You know what? I can do this!”
Owen Hemsath: Well it’s interesting what you say about you know, “Women are from Venus” and whatnot because science has really shown us, I mean the rover landed on the red planet and there was no sign of beer or ESPN so we know men are not from Mars.
Ben Martin: You were saying something about like being emotionally involved. I’m not a super-emotional kind of guy. I am very involved, I change diapers, I do all that kind of stuff except for feeding. Obviously, I can’t do that kind of stuff. But, what do you mean by being “emotionally involved”? I’m not, like I said, I’m not a super emotional guy. I didn’t cry when..., you know I left for work again after the baby was born and my wife totally bawled her out like three days straight! You know?
Dr. Danny Singley: To quickly address the “emotional availability” piece. It is something different expected of men, in general, these days, but partners. If you look at postpartum issues generally, when folks think about post-partum depression, they think about a weepy woman, but just as an example of emotional differences, post-partum depression, depending on what study you look at, between 4 and 25 percent of men have “Daddy baby blues” as well, but the emotional expression of it looks very different than it does with women. As opposed to being, you know, if you sit back and close your eyes and imagine somebody being intensely sad, you are going to have a generally feminized understanding of it.
Ben Martin: Sure.
Dr. Danny Singley: They are going to be crying and rocking back and forth and so forth. And men tend to get irritable and angrier and isolated or not take enough joy and when plays out for new dads, mom and dad can just not understand what’s..., you know, what’s going on. You’re not seeming the same as you have been and so being more, being more emotionally available doesn’t mean emoting a whole lot more, it does mean allowing yourself the space to say, “Okay, there’s something going on with me”, and to be able to go communicate it.
Owen Hemsath: So what are some of the techniques that you, you share with the dad to take back to his partner, in the relationship, sense of...., because there’s a distance there, you know, you’ve got now there’s baby in-between you and your wife, you know, in my case. And so, what are some techniques that you teach a dad to take back to the home, to you know, re-engage that relationship?
Dr. Danny Singley: So, the model I like to use is a triangle. If you think about the three points on a triangle and you’ve got between mom and dad and then from parents to the baby, typically, immediately after birth, mom and dad a hugely focused on the legs of the triangle going to the baby and I remind them that the baby is only there because of that leg of the triangle between mom and dad, that’s what got things off. A lot of times that can feel like a “want to” instead of a “have to” to keep things solid because the better the relationship is, the better it is for baby as well as for the parents. And so, two things that I tell them to do always, actually three things, as I mentioned: Setting up a weekly 15-20 minute check-in the Summit Meeting, so and let me tell you, no dad in the history of the universe has ever gone home and said, “Okay honey, let’s take a regular 15 minute per week, time-out and check-in”.
Owen Hemsath: Right.
Ben Martin: Right.
Dr. Danny Singley: Not to do family business. Not who's going to get the diapers and how are you going to go over here and this..., it’s just to say, “Look, here’s what it’s like to be me. Here’s in-between my ears and in my own skin and this is what it’s like.
Johner Riehl: Some couch time.
Dr. Danny Singley: Yeah. Exactly, and just checking-in that leg of the triangle. Another one is: To get social support.
Ben Martin: Yeah.
Dr. Danny Singley: Men tend to be terrible social chairs. You know, start with sexist comments, men..., we tend to get told where to go and who to hang out with but it’s not fair to expect that mom and dad are going to be each other’s sole source of social support. So going out and you know, doing some mindless interactive with other guys and you know, whatever it is, you go get that support.
Ben Martin: We need more of that. Right on.
Owen Hemsath: Yeah. Ben and I used to hang out all the time and then our babies came right next to each other and it’s kind of like....
Ben Martin: It’s at zero activity now.
Owen Hemsath: Yeah.
Ben Martin: We need to go like get a movie and beer.
Owen Hemsath: That’s what I’m talking about. And a steak.
Dr. Danny Singley: Yeah, yeah. Meat and beer.
Owen Hemsath: And you know, one thing with the wife, we have our couch time, our one-on-one time, but we also, we have to make sure it’s not like at the end of the day, when it’s like, [deep sigh]. You know it’s got to be when like nap-time when we are not exhausted and still excited to see each other.
Dr. Danny Singley: My wife and I are big calendar geeks and so we’ve got Outlook and Google Calendar and a Shared Google Calendar and one thing you can do is to set a recurring morning reminder which says, alright, my schedule changes it won’t always be Tuesday at noon, the reminder is when you check-in and say, “Okay, when is a reasonable time this week that we can do our 15-20 minute check-in”.
Owen Hemsath: Right.
Johner Riehl: Right. What do you see in your classes that you know, that common themes, that maybe dads bring up, of things that they are afraid of or issue they want to talk about and you know, how do you deal with them?
Dr. Danny Singley: For dads that have really had much experience with babies, what they are most comfortable owning up to being worried about is, “I’m afraid I’m going to drop the kid”, I don’t know how to swaddle and all this and it takes them a while to warm up to “I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to earn enough”, “How I’m I going to handle work/life stress?”, typically, they haven’t thought through some of the things that really do tend to come to a head, which are things like, we disagree about when baby should be out of the room...
Owen Hemsath: Right, co-sleeping, stuff like that.
Dr. Danny Singley: We are not on the same page about letting the baby cry it out.
Johner Riehl: Right.
Dr. Danny Singley: Things along....
Johner Riehl: So it sort of starts out with very basic logistics and then kind of mushrooms into you know, talking....
Dr. Danny Singley: Turns out those logistics are nested in a larger social context.
Owen Hemsath: My first swaddles, I tied in knots. I was like “No, the baby cannot move! I did it! I did it right!” You know, and then yeah, some of the issues about crying it out because I’m a big “Let the baby cry it out!” you know what I mean? “This is my house!” you know what I mean? And we, I wasn’t open to conversation. It was like I..., this.... “You know, I’m dad! I’m king of my household!” type of situation. And these are things that engage my wife and I. I could have really used the class or used some of this information, you know in the very beginning to at least recognize that there are going to be issues.
Ben Martin: Absolutely.
Owen Hemsath: You know?
Dr. Danny Singley: Well that’s part of the trick. As a psychologist that focuses on men’s issues, finding ways to approach guys, in a way that doesn’t get the freaked out and say, “Oh man, this shrink is talking about feelings again!”, that’s half the battle but typically, the issues remain largely the same, once guys kind of you know, get into it.
Owen Hemsath: That’s really fantastic stuff. Now when we come back, we’ll talk more specifically about the type of skill sets that Danny helps out with and how to get involved with a New Dad class.
Owen Hemsath: Welcome back to Parent Savers. Today we are talking to Psychologist Danny Singley of http://www.newdadclass.com and we’re talking about parenting skills for new dads. Danny, what about this adjustment to parenthood for the dad? I mean you go from being a bro, you know, to being a dad, to being daddy. I mean how do you deal with that? How do you teach men to deal with that?
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, I think we maintain our “bro-ness” post-partum, first of all, but in addition to the crew. There are so many factors that go into a dad’s adjustment, like you know, psychological, social, biological, you can’t hit them all, but my focus is on the ones that dads can learn as individually as part of a couple and as a parent and so, I think of it as sort of a systems perspective. One: There’s between dad’s ears. What he’s thinking about? How is he managing stress? The second is as part of a partner in the relationship and then finally, it’s sort of in the larger social context, what’s he doing? I oftentimes, folks will, new dads will wait until stress just gets too much. I think of it as sort of the tension when you pull a bow back. And it’s to be pro-active about getting their stress managed. And that can look totally, totally different from dad to dad. For some, it’s “I’m going to go bowling”, or somebody else says, “I just want some me-time to go relax”. Other folks will actually go do things like, you know, “I’m going to go work-out or I’m going to go do yoga or I’m going to surf”, or some of them really want to do ‘Relaxation’, like they’ll sit and do deep breathing or things like that as stress management.
Owen Hemsath: Decompress a little bit, you know, especially after work.
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, the thing that you are going to see, it’s about staying ahead of this stuff. It’s about not being reactive, it’s about being pro-active.
Collin Rand: So, what about, someone like in my case? I work from home, so I’m with my kids all day. I may not see them constantly because I’m in the office, but I’m at home. So, I help out there, I help out afterward with dinner and putting them to bed and then my day is done because socially, after becoming a dad from a bro, I’ve lost my “bro-ness” and I’m going to open up a little bit. I’ve lost my “bro-ness” and my friendships have kind of dissipated a bit because my goals changed. So, what can I do in that social aspect of being in a..., in confinement of...... ?
Ben Martin: To not be so girly?
Collin Rand: Not necessarily be so girly, but....
Danny Singley: To be more bro-ie!
Collin Rand: Right. But in the general sense of I don’t have an outlet necessarily. Everything is..., is family related.
Owen Hemsath: It’s kids, yeah.
Collin Rand: It’s kids, it’s wife and it’s sleep and work. That’s it.
Dr. Danny Singley: The social situation it’s going to change, no matter what. One thing that’s very common for new dads, which typically, they don’t see coming is, a sense of guilt about, you know, here’s..., here’s how much time mom’s needing to spend and all the nursing and all the sleepless nights and this and that and oftentimes, dads do not feel entitled to asking, you know, “Hey is it okay if I have some time-out” because that can feel really selfish. It’s a..., I would say it’s a “have to” that tends to get dropped down to a “want to” that doesn’t get addressed. And so for you specifically, the question I want to ask you is: In your mind, when I ask you, who is somebody that you would with that you haven’t hung out in a long time? Who? Does somebody come to mind?
Collin Rand: No, nobody comes to mind?
Owen Hemsath: As he’s looking directly to me!
Dr. Danny Singley: There’s a romance brewing here. You guys say you’re not bros anymore but I see....
Owen Hemsath: Oh, it’s been there for 20 years.
Collin Rand: Almost!
Dr. Danny Singley: The reason why I ask is that it’s not the case that the opportunity isn’t there, the case is that, it just takes something..., it takes more to actually get out and stoke those, those relationships.
Owen Hemsath: I’m so glad to hear you say that because, again, the media teaches us that, that dads are these bumbling, you know, overweight fools and it’s like, I sit there and I want to protect my kids and my wife and so, you know, asking, “Hey, can I go bowling?” or “Hey can I go to the driving range?” is kind of like, I feel like I’m the 10-year-old, you know scuffling my feet, “Hey, is it alright if you know, maybe later today, me and....”, you know, and I need to get out, I need to just get away and decompress a little bit and it’s nice to know that other men are having that same situation and they just need to go out and be social and be, you know, bros.
Ben Martin: Absolutely, yeah. I established that from the very beginning, Owen, what you were talking about, instead of asking, we just set up times. Amy and I, from the very beginning. It’s like, “Hey, Saturday, I’m going for a motorcycle ride”, you know, or this. Or I’m going with Owen you know, golfing, whatever. You know, it’s got to start from the beginning I think.
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, and the counterpoint to that is often times, getting social support and getting out of the house and connecting with other people can fall off the radar for mom too. And so to the extent that you can be proactive and an advocate for mom to go out and get her social support needs met, so even if she’s in a space of “No, I can’t. There’s just so much to do”. If you can say, “Listen, I’m in a post-up, I got the baby, you’re good to go. Go out and go meet up with some of your friends!”. That’s something that dads can do, that’s very concrete, that typically, we do not do.
Owen Hemsath: Let me tell you. I got on Facebook and I called her friends and I’m like, “You ladies want to come over?”, you know what I mean? And I...., there’s like four women in our house with newborns. Your wife was there. We had a couple of friends there and I just kind of like quietly, “Okay!” Oh, my wife...., and let me tell you something. Pom, pom, pom.....
Dr. Danny Singley: Oh, that’s great. It is, I’m going to keep going back to it. Being proactive about social support piece, but also how you, how you deal with communication...
Ben Martin: Sure.
Dr. Danny Singley: Because so many changes after the baby’s born and if all we are really focused on is, babies..., which is important, baby’s needs and how we are going to manage baby, but don’t communicate with each other about, “Hey, you know, I’m really stressing out about it, but I’m handling the work life stuff or it’s tough for me when I come home and you just hand me the baby and then, go off”, I mean these are understandable, but oftentimes, people don’t talk proactively about it and that when they do talk, it’s because it’s really gotten stressful and they start hurling things at each other instead of talking in an adult assertive way.
Owen Hemsath: Well, that much poop changes a man!
Dr. Danny Singley: It’s true, no it’s true.
Owen Hemsath: It’s a fact! Science!
Dr. Danny Singley: It’s like Vietnam!
Owen Hemsath: Getting used to all the Colostrumness! Colostrum will do that to you! Absolutely.
Danny Singley: Colostrum and Napalm. I think actually Napalm is made from Colostrum.
All: Yeah. I’m pretty sure! Same texture! Same blood! Same food group!
Ben Martin: And it sounds like you’re already answering my question already by being proactive about you know, and what a guy can do to be more involved with his new family. You know, what...., you know, be proactive. It sounds like you’re answering it already. Just go out there....
Dr. Danny Singley: So, once again, I pretty much never think of, you know the new dad in a vacuum. The new dad is part of a system, part of a partnership, part of a family system.
Ben Martin: Absolutely, yeah.
Dr. Danny Singley: One of the things that I, when I talk to moms, it sounds one way. When I talk to dads, it sounds another way and a lot of it is still basically the same. One of the very, very best things that mom can do, and this goes to that, you know, fat, bumbling, couch potato, dad stereotype is: I tell moms to give dads specific, concrete ways to be involved with the baby and do not expect dad to be a mind-reader in terms of what you want or how to go about things.
Owen Hemsath: So, I need you to change the baby’s diapers in the morning, as opposed to I need you to help out more.
Dr. Danny Singley: Correct.
Owen Hemsath: And put it in this trashcan.
Johner Riehl: Oh, man, yeah. Not in the kitchen.
Danny Singley: Exactly!
Owen Hemsath: You guys have a specific trashcan for diapers?!
Colin Rand: Oh, yeah!
Ben Martin: Of course!
Owen Hemsath: Awesome!
Owen Hemsath: So, I mean I think these are..., I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. It’s great tips, but a lot of us, you know, either, because we, for other circumstances or we just don’t live in San Diego, aren’t going to be able to take your class. So what are some tips for folks that are listening to maybe kind of tune into this kind of New Dads network or to get some of the benefits of your class?
Dr. Danny Singley: Well, some of what we’ve talked about, which is, if you want to optimize the adjustment to parenthood, think through it in terms of me as an individual, what makes me, me? What brings me meaning to my life, outside of being just a parent and how do I keep that in the mix after the birth of the
baby, but that also, how can I not just stay with the baby, how can I stay directly involved with my partner? Because that..., you know, in, again, we are not mindreaders, we can’t know that specifically and so, I would say sort of top to bottom, it’s one:
Make sure that you are managing your stress and you are staying ahead of it and you are being proactive. Men tend not have the vocabulary. We are not well socialized to say, “You know I was feeling rather dismayed this morning when you didn’t let me change the diapers....”, or something along these lines.
Owen Hemsath: And the violin starts playing.
Dr. Danny Singley: Yeah! Yeah! But we tend to have an awareness when, if you ask her, “How do you feel?”, “Good!”, “How do you feel?” “Bad!” It’s not, you know, “I’m very concerned.” And so, we don’t typically have that vocabulary to express it to somebody else. And it’s not very important that you are falling on the floor having a drama emotion fest, but what is important is to stay ahead of concern and say, “I don’t know, there’s just something going on”, and just so, to keep mom in the loop and then, do something about it, because it’s not getting any better if you don’t start trying to get that social support, start being proactive about your own stress management. And bring people in. You know, go out, be active about it. I’m going to go, you know, see this friend or you know, there’s something I’m interested in. Push past the, “I have to, I have to, I have to!” and letting all the “Want to’s” go.
Owen Hemsath: Thanks to Danny Singley for coming down and just rocking this Dad Episode. I learned a lot of really concrete stuff and that’s, that’s fantastic. So thank you so much and if you are out there listening and want more information on Danny, please visit our website at http://www.parentsavers.com and visit the episode page with Danny Singley, Episode 20. And you can also visit Danny’s website at http://www.newdadsclass.com.
[Featured Segments: Parenting “Oops”! - Breasts and Chests]
Owen Hemsath: Before we wrap up today’s episode, here’s a new segment on Parent Savers called “Parenting Oops!”. This is your chance to tell a funny story about a parenting mistake or “Oops!” that you recently made, kind of like America’s Funniest Home Videos for internet radio. Colin, you had a story you were telling me about earlier?
Collin Rand: Yeah. [Laughs] This is one of the fun stories that I like to tell about my oldest son, Lucas. Now Lucas, if you know Lucas, you know how intelligent he is and how curious he is. I mean, he will ask a question to a complete stranger if he thinks he’s going to get a logical answer.
Collin Rand: And at one point, I was helping run a restaurant and one of my employees, it was a slow night so I had the family come in and my wife and my oldest son sat there and he asked a question to one of my waitresses. Now let me, let me preface this a little bit. Lucas is a..., he’s above and beyond where he needs to be in asking questions and especially about the differences between men and women. Mommies and Daddies. And so, one of the questions that we answered was, “Women have breasts and men have chests”, and that’s how you decipher it. And we tried to do it very specific so it wasn’t a “wrong thing to do” or a “wrong thing to say” to anybody. Women have breasts and men have chests.
And so this waitress that works for me, I would say, she’s a full-figured woman, okay, and then that’s going to be.... Yes! And I’ll and stay as appropriate as possible, he decided that he was going to ask this waitress about the difference and why she is a woman. And he goes, “Do you have a breast?!” and my wife and I looked at each other like “Oh my gosh!” and we said to him, “Lucas, you cannot say that to people like that!” and he goes, “Oh! Excuse me, do you have a breast?!” and he just thought it was impolite for him not to say “Excuse me” and get her attention and that was the incorrect thing to do and so what we did, is we had to find ourselves that we had to re-evaluate how we were talking to him about the anatomy or specifics, whether it’s women have breasts and men have chests or fat and skinny. That you can’t just talk about those things to anybody, that in an ethical and a societal way, you don’t talk about those things just in public. You can talk to mommy and daddy about it, but not just anybody! So that was one of those “Oops!”
Owen Hemsath: If you have a Parenting Oops you’d like to share, you can call our Parent Savers hotline at 619-866-4775 or email us and we’ll feature it in an upcoming episode. That wraps up today’s episode. Be sure to check out the http://www.parentsavers.com website for more great episodes. The Parent Savers blog and great reviews on our Parenting Products.
Also, join us on Facebook. Just search for Parent Savers. Coming up next, we’re talking about “Co-Parenting – What to do when Parents Disagree”. Thanks for listing to Parent Savers, empowering new parents everywhere!
This has been a New Mommy Media Production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though such information materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problems or disease or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.
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