Divorced parents that share their children over the holidays and vacations; single parents who struggle to raise their children and provide them with the best life while working 10-12 hour jobs; parents so busy with work that the babysitter becomes the only caregiver the child knows. We’ve all seen these family dynamics over and over again. It’s the news we’re sold every day and the new normal that’s presented to us.
But there’s another type of family dynamic I’ve started seeing more and more around me, and it gives me so much hope for future generations. It’s the modern family of the XXI century, a family with balanced roles, a family with a solid foundation built on love, mutual respect, trust, shared values and beliefs, and a strong friendship.
These are the couples that decide to bring a child into the world and into their family not because they’re struggling as a couple and have this naive hope that a child will come to strengthen their already faulty relationship, but because they believe their relationship is strong enough to welcome a third member, and because they know their bond is prepared to handle sleepless nights, stress and worries, and less couple time in the beginning. They’re not ones to shy away from work and are aware that relationships require constant work.
It’s the kind of family where both parents are prepared to raise a tiny human and get equally excited to see the two lines on the pregnancy test.
It’s the kind of family where the husband accompanies his wife to every doctor’s visit and finds it completely normal. He sees each doctor’s appointment as an opportunity to be there for his wife, to become more informed about pregnancy, as well as a time for them to be with their baby. Nothing compares to seeing the baby for the first time, hearing their tiny heart beating for the first time, and then seeing them grow. These are all precious moments both parents should experience.
It’s the kind of family where the husband understands the changes his wife will experience during the nine months of pregnancy, and is empathetic, supportive, and most importantly, he’s there for his wife. Because no matter what you read or what others might tell you, beyond the magic of growing a baby inside your womb, pregnancy is not all rainbows and butterflies but body changes, nausea, unusual tiredness, and all these new symptoms that can be scary at times. Not to mention the hormonal changes that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. All these transformations may sometimes be overwhelming for a woman, especially if this is her first pregnancy, so the support of the husband is even more valuable.
It’s the kind of family where both parents are committed to learning as much as possible before the baby comes and continue educating themselves afterward. They recognize the need for preparing for life in three and take the time to go to parenting classes together, read books, and invariably seek information from reliable sources. They discuss parenting styles and take the time to listen to and understand the other one’s view on the topic.
Both parents are actively involved and are not having a baby for the grandparents or someone else to raise. They know the greatest gift they can give their child is time – time spent together, time interacting, and forming bonds. They’d rather take the hard route, and be 100% present through the giggles and tantrums too, rather than take the easy road and give the baby screen time.
They understand that a baby needs more than to be fed and changed, that a baby doesn’t cry to manipulate them, and loving their baby unconditionally and being there for them doesn’t mean they’re spoiling them, quite the contrary – it’s what will build a foundation of trust between them and their baby, create a secure attachment, and lead to a more self-confident, independent kid.
It’s the kind of family that acknowledges the hardships of being a parent, but also the rewarding side of it and instead of complaining about the sleepless nights and the fact that a baby doesn’t have the understanding of an adult yet, they’re grateful for the miracle of bringing a new life into the world, of seeing a tiny human grow, learn new things every day, and observe their personality take shape.
It’s the kind of family that doesn’t see the woman as the only responsible for raising the baby, taking care of the household and of the husband, and the husband as the sole provider. The roles are more balanced, the mother doesn’t completely give up on herself to raise the baby, but manages to take care of herself too, because post-partum depression is as real as it gets (affecting more than 1 in every 10 women according to NHS and CDC), and it takes a happy, healthy, fulfilled parent to raise a happy, healthy, fulfilled child. The father is not ashamed to take paternity leave, be present in his child’s first months, change diapers, wash the baby, read bedtime stories, and wake up in the middle of the night when the baby cries so the mother gets an extra hour of sleep.
It’s the kind of family where the parents see the child as an immense blessing, but know that to give their baby the best life possible, they need to take care of themselves too, individually and as a couple. They understand that you have to be your best self to be able to give others the best of you. So they put their couple first because it’s the only way to offer their baby a united family and a secure environment where they can feel loved and safe.
It’s the kind of family where decisions are taken by both parents together, and no one feels like they’re giving up on something or sacrificing their needs.
It’s not a perfect family, but a real one, where frustration, sleep deprivation, stress, and anger are real and not shoved under the rug. They face their struggles as a couple, and as new parents, they are not afraid to feel uncomfortable, talk things through, and are both genuinely open and interested in the other person’s feelings and thoughts.
In a world where many dwell on the negative, seeing that such couples and families exist brings a ray of hope; hope that there is life after having a baby, that it’s both parents’ job to build a relationship with and care for their baby, that the roles are more balanced today, and that we’re moving further away from traditional stereotypes.
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