One of the saddest problems that come to my attention is when a guy cuts loose from his wife or girlfriend either just before the delivery of their baby or right after the baby is born.
An equally difficult problem to deal with is when the father of the baby to often looks for ways to escape or shirk from their responsibilities in caring and raising their baby child.
That is what we are going to talk about today.
It is heart breaking to hear some of the stories from women who feel dispirited and worn out. A big part of them wants to make things right with their husband. They understand this is a big change for him….for everyone. But the responsibility of motherhood requires they focus almost the totality of their attention to their baby or children.
Don’t feel guilty about that. It is your husband who needs to adjust his mindset.
By the way, if you chose to spend the vast majority of your time and energy with your newborn baby, kudos to you. Your children should never play second fiddle.
Now I am not saying that you can’t work on helping your husband be a better father. If you have been struggling with getting your absentee husband (father of your child) to pitch in and help with the baby, there are certainly some things you can do to address this problem.
You need not be married and miserable with a new little baby in your life. By the way, I recently wrote up a post on women who are miserable in marriage. I sure hope you don’t fall into this category, but if you need some tips, feel free to read up….
In talking with women, for a lot of them, this problem seems to get bigger with each passing year. When a child is born and the father or boyfriend decides to either bow out or is unwilling to take responsibility for his role in supporting your needs and the needs of the child, that is wrong.
They don’t have a leg to stand on if they cop out when it comes helping you and the baby. If they wish to argue that they are too busy at work or that they are poorly equipped to care for a baby, just know that such excuses are bull crap.
It is a total crock of nonsense when a husband tries to back out of their responsibilities for caring for their infant baby. I have very little tolerance for men who withdraw their emotional and physical support when you need it most.
Now, sometimes it not quite that bad. There may be times in which your husband or boyfriend is willing to help out with your baby. But when they do so in a half hazard way, with little enthusiasm, it makes it difficult for you to really count on them. All this does is create more stress for you.
Do you ever feel that after giving birth to your baby and bringing him or her home, you now have two in the home to care for, specifically your newborn and your childish acting husband?
Guys, if your are reading this, it is not my aim to bash men. But I cannot ignore the avalanche of complaints I get from women on this topic.
It seems that far too many women with infants are just trying to keep their head above water. Their daily life is full of fatigue and chaotic schedules. And if the man of the house is backing away and shirking his duties as father, I am sorry, but that just really doesn’t cut it.
As you probably well know, if you have brought a youngster into this world, the first year or two of the child’s life requires a tremendous investment in time. I am still baffled and amazed at how single women are able to raise their child and in many cases, do a wonderful job.
My wife and I have a youngster and I frankly cannot imagine a scenario in which she could have done it all by herself. I am convinced that the welfare of a baby or infant child would be sacrificed if the husband (or boyfriend) was not there to help out on a daily (even hourly) basis.
Yet having an absentee husband in the house is a common complaint I receive. Women all over reach out to me to express their frustration that there husband is not there for them when it comes to all things associated with raising their child.
Whether it be helping with feeding, bathing, diaper changes, play time, education time, sleep time, or the myriad of other activities that take place when you have a youngster in the household, the care of your baby requires a tag team approach in order for the marriage couple to keep their sanity intact.
So I understand first hand how tough it is on wives out there whose husbands’ are just not doing enough to help with the baby.
It helps to know that your are not alone. Sometimes I wonder if men are born with a certain chip in their brain that turns on after the baby is born and instructs them to do as little as possible!
Here is short scattering of complaints I hear from women about their husband with regard to his lack of support when raising a newborn:
Chris, my husband is not helping with our baby at night. I am exhausted and have fallen way behind in sleep. Yet my husband thinks he must have his 7-8 hours of sleep ever night. This is horribly unfair and I can’t get it through his head that I need help! He keeps saying he will, but nothing of much really gets done. He goes through the motions and I am left with doing everything. It’s like he doesn’t want to learn or get involved. Help! I am married to I guy who is backpedaling away from his daddy duties.
This is our first child. How much should my husband help with my baby? We are trying to come up with a schedule and it seems that he only wants to back me up, whatever that means. To me, he is looking for permission not to help out. The last time he said he would back me up on something, I ended up doing everything all the time. I know my husband is taking advantage of me.
My baby girl’s father doesn’t help much. I guess he is a baby daddy as you call it. We are not married. I don’t think we ever will be after what I have seen and have been going through. He helped bring this baby into our world, but he seems to not want to embrace any of the responsibility of caring and feeding. The most I can get him to do is grocery story runs. He keeps acting like he doesn’t know what to do, but he won’t even try to learn or take direction from me. He just retreats from making any commitment. I can pin him down. I can’t call him a deadbeat dad because he does provide for both of us. But I feel helpless and exhausted and am afraid that it will only get worse.
Chris, we have this new baby and my husband is refusing to help at night. He purposely won’t wake up when our baby cries and when he does stir, he acts like he is really tired and can’t help. I am breast feeding our baby now, but I am really concerned when we get her on the bottle, my husband will still not step up and do night duty. I want to scream at him because it is so selfish for him to behave this way. We are supposed to be in this together. He said all the right things before this child was born. But as soon as he discovered how hard it is, he looks for every way to back out and shirk his responsibilities. If it wasn’t for my mother, I would be desperate.
Chris, my husband and I have this beautiful child. She is getting to the age where she is really a joy to be around, but it still takes a lot of effort to take care of her. That is the problem. My husband doesn’t help with our toddler at all. He thinks that playtime is his contribution. But when it comes to spelling me, helping with putting her down, getting her diapers changed, and feeding her, he just disappears. I have tried everything to get him to chip in, but he resists. He keeps saying he is afraid he will screw things up. But I know that is an excuse.
Help me! I am stuck with a do nothing husband . We have newborn and I might as well be considered a single mom because he sure it not around when I am desperate for help. It is getting worse. I am getting so fatigued and depressed. Everyday I wake up with resentment .
Why Won’t Your Husband Help With the Baby?
A while back, I did a survey with some of the women who participate on this website. I wanted to explore what might be some of the reasons why men choose to take a backseat in helping their wife with caring for their newborn. I discovered there were different reasons, depending on the guy and the circumstances.
One thing I found was there are some well-intentioned husbands who don’t know a lot about what to do and were simply petrified.
Understandably, it can be quite an enormous undertaking and most men did not really pay much attention to matters like this if they had baby brothers or sisters. Some of these men were ill-equipped and were lacking in basic skills.
Should we give them a pass for that?
Not really. It’s not like the coming of the baby was a great surprise.
Is it too late for men to get up to speed and really work hard to do their part and chip in as often as needed?
Of course not.
For both husband and wife, adapting your time and schedules to care for your newborn infant is an evolutionary process.
There was also a group of men who were simply (at first) poorly equipped emotionally when it came time to deal with rearing their child. They intended to help but were shocked to see all of the things one needs to do to simply to care for a newborn.
And as the child became older and the responsibilities of care extended beyond the core duties of feeding, changing, bathing, and putting down to sleep, these men became overwhelmed with the time crunch.
So should we give these guys a pass?
I am sure it is no picnic for the women who are emotionally trying to deal with the whole experience of raising their child, not to mention trying to get their hormones back to normal levels.
So what I learned is that there is a high percentage of men who simply checked out emotionally.
Instead of looking for ways to help their wife, they simply made the unspoken decision to do as little as possible and let their wife lead in all areas. While they may have earlier envisioned that the rearing of the child would be like a tag team strategy, these dreams quickly evaporated were subjected to the real rigors of taking care of a baby.
Then there was a group of husbands that made up the majority of the respondents, I am sorry to say. I suspect that my survey results were not representative of men in general, but more than half of the women who responded reported that their husband either did nothing in the way of support or very little.
Mind you, these new moms were were frustrated and at their wit’s end. But I still believe the women because the temptation for a guy to checkout is really high.
And worse, in some cases the wife reported that her husband was a detriment. He made things worse.
In these cases, the men would complain about the way their life had changed for the worse and express resentment toward their spouse for how they had little time to do anything, with complaints of being trapped. Some women reported their husband spending more time away from home, seemingly looking for ways to avoid their responsibilities as a father.
To survive the stress of their husband not being available to help them, some of the women explained that they adopted a cynical view of their husband’s level of commitment.
As a self-survival mechanism, some of these new moms just assumed they could never expect much if any relief. Of course, that is truly a sad state of affairs when you have to pencil your husband completely out of the lineup for helping with the baby.
So in summary, why do the men behave this way. Here are my findings
- The husband is simply selfish minded. Rather than modify their own habits and routines to help their wife with the care of their baby, they elected to avoid responsibility, taking the chauvinistic position that raising a baby is women’s work.
- In some cases the husband was poorly equipped emotionally to help with caring for the newborn. They were petrified that they would do something wrong. They had little experience around babies and did not want to mess up or make worse the situation. In these cases, the men were quick to return the baby back to its mother when the least little problem would crop up. Over time, some of these insecure husbands learned to overcome their fears and the sharing in the care of the baby improved.
- Some men are experts at adopting avoidance behaviors and removing themselves from any responsibilities because they genuinely believe it is in the child’s best interest to be cared for by the mother. Either their reasoning arose from cultural or religious notions. However it happened, some guys are convinced they would be poorly suited for this kind of effort or they came to the conclusion in a very analytical way. I heard from one wife who said her husband was an engineer and that he came up with a mathematical proof that showed his time was better suited doing other things. Frankly, I told her I thought it was all hogwash and was one of the worst excuses I had ever heard.
- Some guys don’t like having their life change in this way. That are not emotionally prepared. Perhaps their maturity level is inadequate. It is also possible that if he is pulling away from his baby duties, it could be a sign that he is having second thoughts about the relationship. Don’t panic. Much of the time, these thought he has are fleeting and are a product of him just streaming thoughts. Some husbands have no clue what it takes to raise a child and when they get a taste of it, they can panic and freak out a bit. They become afraid that life as they once knew it is now gone. So what do people do when they get panicky? They either want to fight or flee. It is not an common reaction when individuals get overcome and panic. After some time, most of these men get their act together as their emotions come back down to earth. They learn to cope with it, just like every other mother and father have before them.
How Do You Convince Your Husband To Help With the Child
So what can one do to get their husband to help with the baby and the myriad of things that need to get done?
First let me start with what you shouldn’t do.
Yelling or screaming at your husband will generally produce the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.
I know….you are probably at your wit’s end and screaming at him seems and feels like the right thing to do in the moment.
But I would still advise against giving in to what may feel like the perfectly right thing to do. If you must, do so as a last resort. Under certain circumstances, it could jar your husband to realize he best get on board with the program of raising this new, beautiful child.
Nevertheless, there is already plenty of screaming and crying coming from the baby. So be careful of overusing this “scream tactic”. There is a point where you get diminishing returns. Whatever amount of screaming you do to try to jar him to the reality that he needs to help you, rarely nets any positive, long lasting results.
If your husband is looking for a reason to check out of his baby duties and further shirk his responsibilities, you just gave him one.
Nor should you give your husband an ultimatum. For example, telling your husband that you will destroy his prized card collection (or whatever) if he doesn’t help you by staying up with the baby will probably backfire big time.
Yet another thing you should not do is give up on your husband. Right now it may seem hopeless and you may feel resigned to the notion that your guy will not change his ways. But there are always options.
A better approach is to organize, plan and find creative and strategic ways to enlist his help and the help of others.
So let’s look at some solutions
- Consider drawing up a Baby Plan. Collaborate with your husband in putting it together. It will allow you both to put on paper or poster all of the things that typically needs to get done. Also estimate the time it takes to perform the various tasks. Include daily schedules for things like times for bathing the baby, tending to the baby clothes, staging the infant’s food, and stocking up on what your baby needs in terms of clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, etc. Once you and your husband have identified all the things that need to get done with a baby or infant in the house, it makes it much more clearer to the husband what is all involved. He may come to appreciate more the enormity of the work and why his involvement is so critical. All mothers know that the baby related tasks are endless as little infants need a lot of attention and the work changes and evolves over time. As part of this plan, identify all the things you need to stock up (have in inventory) so your are not running out of thing, having to do last minute runs to your local grocery store. So at the end of all this planning you should have an organized list of “Things To Do” and Things To Get” and “Schedules”. This will make it easier for the two of you to agree on what it is your husband can do to help you out. Block out the hours and duties you need from him. Men are action and result oriented. If it is left nebulous, it won’t get done. But if your husband sees what all the actions are for which they are responsible and it is written down, then they are more likely to be motivated to get these things done.
- From a strategic and psychological angle, sit down with your husband and explain to him that you cannot take care of the baby completely by yourself. No wife should be expected to do it all alone, especially in those early months when fatigue plays such a role in the care taking of the baby. To gain his commitment to help, give him a specific time block you need him for. Then as a short-term measure, explain to him that another way the two of you can get through this difficult child rearing period is to get help from outside. Lay out the time period in which you need this help. It can be friends, family, or you can hire someone part-time to perform some of the tasks. The key is getting your husband to be solely responsible for that block of time so he can see, hear, and feel how hard it is to take care of his baby. After that, your husband will be more likely to agree to outside help once he gets a taste of the hardship.
- Leave your baby in the hands of your husband for a day. He will learn in great detail how hard it is to be at high alert, attending to the baby’s every need for so long, without break. If he hesitates or balks at the notion, simply get your purse and phone and kiss him and the baby and make a bee line to the door. Now you are not leaving him completely in the lurch. Prior to leaving, leave him specific instructions that lay out what he needs to do and when. Identify all the key priorities such as how much formula and baby food the baby will need. Stage it out on the table for each of the time blocks. Record the nap time periods and the wake up routines. Also draw up a list of extra duties he can perform (e.g. washing and drying clothes, cleaning house, emptying diaper bag, cleaning dishes, sanitizing bottles, etc) if he really wants to shine and impress you. If your husband has an ounce of love for the baby, self-respect and a competitive streak, he will make it through just fine. When it’s all done, he will have a newfound appreciation of what moms go through every day.
- Don’t assume that your husband is as incompetent or unwilling as you may think. Turn it into a challenge. Men like challenges. Give him 3 – 5 key tasks and create some printable Weekly Baby Challenge Posters. Hang these posters around the house. It will not only remind him of what he has to do, but these posters should also showcase all of the tasks that you are doing for the care of the baby. That way, he can see his few tasks are dwarfed against the multitude of things you are doing. Ask him to check of each task he completes so he can see progress. Once he gets engaged and realizes what is involved he will not only value what you do much more, but his level of guilt will increase when he sees all the things you are doing or if he slacks and chooses not to help you out.