The year 2020 has been declared the year of the mother, where several organizations and advocacy groups (i.e., Moms Rising, 2020 Mom, Mom Congress, Motherly, etc.) are standing together to bring light to issues women, children and families face as well as issues parents may face during early parenthood. #2020 YearOfTheMother is focused on improving support during motherhood as well as to give women tools, confidence, opportunities to raise their voices together. Men can help foster support for their spouses and help create a cyclic environment of support to help tackle the challenges that both moms and dads face during early parenthood – including a lack of support for each!
Early parenting is rarely an easy transition. In fact, it can be a trying and challenging time for both new and experienced parents. In a previous blog post, we’ve discussed how early parenthood is a time when moms and dads need more social support as it is common for new parents to become isolated or withdrawn and even find it difficult to fulfill their basic self-care needs after the birth of their child. Also, it is common for new parents to become overwhelmed with their transition from woman or man to mother or father as well as finding themselves becoming a child-centered household. Due to this development, new parents may not be seeing their friends as often, their friendships may be diminishing, and even more support from their partner may be crucial during this time.
Parents can serve as a source of support for each other as they share and explore feelings regarding their transition to parenthood, things they are finding difficult or struggling with, things they need from each other, etc. It is vital to the relationship for each other to talk openly about their mental health, emotions, challenges with parenthood, worries, etc. as there may be several changes in their relationships postnatally. For example, having a baby not only transitions a man or woman to a mother or father, but having a child may impact the demands placed on their relationship as a couple. Thus, making time to talk and spending time together may be a valuable way to reduce relationship tension and help new parents cope together.
Research has shown, parent-to-parent support to have a positive impact on reducing parents’ level of distress. Parents being able to share their feelings, worries and anxieties with other parents who may have experienced something similar (i.e., ‘had been there’) can help parents cope and/or can help parents create supportive and meaningful relationships as they embark on their journey to parenthood.
Fathers and men can be supportive of mothers by openly communicating with them, encouraging them to find and/or interact with other women or parenting groups, and scheduling time together. This will help develop strong connections not only in your relationships with others, but in your own relationship as well, as you are helping to promote a foundation for support. Some resources men and fathers can use to support mothers include joining Mom and Dad clubs and groups in San Diego, encouraging moms to have a meaningful conversation or meet up with other moms, or to join Mom congress so Mothers can learn to lend their voices to pressing national policy issues affecting motherhood.
And who knows – maybe 2021 will be the Year of the Father – or better yet, how about we include all genders and go with #2021YearoftheParent!