The Family Project: Father should help
Q. I have a three-year-old son and a four-month-old daughter. My husband accused me of neglecting our son in favor of our daughter. I don’t get enough sleep and don’t have the energy to play with my son. What can I do to make more time for my son?
“I’m concerned that the husband is playing this situation as daughter versus son, rather than a three-year-old versus a four-month-old baby,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said.
“The reality is that infants need constant care and supervision. There is a lot more physical connection, with mom having to hold the baby and basically being attached to her,” Stefanyak said.
“The husband is being insensitive,” said panelist Denise Continenza.
“This family is going through a transition. He needs to understand that every time the family constitution changes, a new baby is born or a teenager goes off to college, the family is shaken,” Continenza said.
The mother needs to have a conversation with the husband, panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo said.
“She should tell him she is hurt that he thinks she is playing favorites. She also should ask him to be more involved in taking care of the baby at night, so she can get more sleep and be rested and energized to play more with the toddler during the day,” said Mercado-Arroyo.
Continenza said the mother could partner with the father to care for the baby together, noting, “Perhaps they could alternate getting up at night.”
“There is no such thing as making more time,” Stefanyak said. “There are only 24 hours in a day.
“What the mother could do, however, is find ways to include the son in taking care of the baby,” said Stefanyak, citing examples: “‘Can you get me a diaper?,’ or ‘Can you find the baby’s bottle?’” Stefanyak said.
“Make the son part of the process of taking care of the baby. Build him up as the big brother,” Stefanyak said.
Mercado-Arroyo said the boy needs to involved so he doesn’t feel neglected, saying, “What the father may be noticing, the son is, too.”
“The mother still won’t feel that she has enough time, and she won’t,” Stefanyak said. But he had words of encouragement: “This will eventually fix itself as supervising the baby requires less time and attention, allowing the mother to spend more time with her son.”
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, former teacher and school administrator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; and Denise Continenza, extension educator.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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