By Rob Straus, The New Child Project, and Margaret Hannah, Director of the Friedman Center for Child and Family Development at William James College
Most couples prepare for a new baby by reading articles on diapering and infant care, by fixing up the baby’s room, buying a crib, a car seat, and by getting ready for the birth itself. Relatively few spend much time talking with their partners about how their relationship will change, getting their relationship ready.
The most important home for your new baby is the relationship between the two of you. That relationship is what provides comfort and safety; it is the place where your child will learn and will grow. If the two of you are comfortable and doing well, that home will be cozy and welcoming.
But the research is clear: Over two-thirds of couples experience a significant drop in relationship satisfication in the 18 months following the birth of their first child (John and Julie Gottman, And Baby Makes Three). There is too much to do, less time for talking and intimacy, new financial and work stresses. You are changing from being a partner to becoming a parent, a father, a mother. It is easy to lose touch with your partner and grow apart.
The effect of unhappy parents is damaging for children: it has negative impacts on both their intellectual and even their physical development.
AND – again according to John Gottman – these negative effects are preventable. It makes sense in the months before your baby comes to spend some time getting your relationship home in order. Good education is available and makes a difference. There are a number of very good resources, including Gottman’s “Bringing Baby Home” workshops. www.bbhonline.org
Locally, in the Boston area several sites are also giving shorter courses attached to classes preparing for your newborn. At William James College, a two-class course is given regularly for Expectant Parents. For more information, please visit www.newchildproject.org and click on For Parents. Course offerings are listed and updated regularly.
Or write us with your question about how to prepare for your new child:
Rob Straus, a psychologist and couples therapist. Since 2005, working with couples, supporting their transition to becoming new parents. firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Hannah, Director of the Friedman Center for Child and Family Development at William James College Margaret_Hannah@williamjames.edu