Bonding is presented as a major challenge to new fathers, and we are increasingly hearing from men who are doing all they can for their child, but are worried they are “ losing the bonding battle.” Translation: Am I failing as a father? This is what a rookie or new dad needs to know:
- Bonding is Overblown The intense interest in bonding was initiated by very sad reports on children raised decades ago in Romanian orphanages who did not bond with the few caregivers they had and then “failed to thrive”. The interest is now focused upon fathers, (often assumed to be dolts) with articles stressing the obvious importance of bonding with “how to instructions.” This makes little sense - trying to bond with your new baby is like trying to fall in love with a girl the first time- you can’t push it - it happens naturally when you spend time together. Same thing with babies, so look beyond bonding and focus on caring, teaching and having fun with your child (like swimming lessons at six months).
- Dads Do Not Bond Like Moms After carrying her baby for nine months, a mom’s bond is hardwired. When she holds her baby for the first time, it is love at first sight. We dads need time for our bond to form as we get to know our baby. No matter how many stories you hear about how some new father fell madly in love at his baby’s birth and instantly bonded forever, there are nine others in which it took months for a dad to feel strongly connected to his child. The more hands-on time we are able to spend with our baby, the quicker we do so. Regardless of how long it takes, if we keep at it, our bond ends up just as strong.
- A Dad’s Bond Goes Way Beyond Smiles An important element of our bond with our babies is reflected in how we feel when they smile at us. Another important element is how we feel as men, knowing we are there when our baby needs us, taking on a challenge larger than ourselves, protecting him from all threats, caring for him, providing for our family, etc. These actions reflect the essence and best of manhood that has evolved over millenniums, and they feed our souls as men today. They are the source of the tremendous fulfillment a baby brings to dads who do the job, and fuel our drive to do even better tomorrow.
This goes way beyond the superficial notion of bonding, which is like focusing on the mortar when describing a magnificent building.
How would you describe it?