I've been talking a lot recently about the role of the father and the challenges we face with various people. Henry is now at a point where, on occasion, only mummy will do. He can become rapidly inconsolable by anything apart from a cuddle with Emily. This can be particularly difficult for the hands-on dad, like I am trying to be. When you want to be a part of the parenting and do your very best to meet your child's needs it can be quite an emotional challenge to recognise those times when you're not enough. And clearly Henry isn't doing this to hurt, the mother baby bond is vital and well-documented. And a generation or so ago this wouldn't have been an issue, there was less expectation, I think, on dads to be active parents. The hands-on dad was the exception, not the norm.
However, times have changed and people do expect more of dads - although I think I pressure myself more than society expects of me. This is what leads to the difficulty. I want to be able to do it, but sometimes I am just not what he wants. I can imagine at this stage it is tricky for dads to maintain the involvement, it can be difficult to continue when you feel you're having to hand over to mummy each time. I am fortunate that I've got a chunk of time off work now and can be about a lot more and strengthen the relationship. For dads that don't have that opportunity it must be very tough and I would question what support, or consideration, they get. My mum talked about my dad, who was an exception but also was in the navy so had to be away for long periods, and how she hadn't considered what it would have been like coming back from months away to a child that wanted mummy. I cannot imagine how difficult that would have been - I am sure all he wanted was hugs and smiles and to not put me down, yet I imagine I had other ideas when young.
The importance of the relationship both parents have with a child is important, and I think preparing dads for these trials would be beneficial.