When it comes to your new baby, is there such a thing as too much help? After observing my friend and her husband’s situation, I would argue that, yes, it is possible to receive too much help with that new little addition.
Before their little bundle arrived, everyone assumed that my friends would be picture-perfect parents (as seasoned parents, we all know that there is no such thing!). She had spent her teenage years babysitting and was familiar with childcare, while he was an extraordinarily goofy and fun-loving guy anyone would picture as a bouncy, silly dad.
But when their little boy arrived, they struggled. They faced a lot of the issues that all couples face—the baby wouldn’t sleep, he needed to be held in order to calm down at all, he cried a decent amount, and they both were worried about eventually returning to work.
Unlike all couples, this couple had a huge support system of close friends and especially relatives. Numerous people jumped in to support the struggling couple—providing them with time to themselves, time to sleep, time to exercise, and countless tidbits of advice.
In fact, there were so many offers from relatives to babysit and provide advice that the couple never really had the time and space new families need to establish their own family routine, rules and communications. When the six-month-old baby would cry at 2a.m., my friend wouldn’t work together with her husband to come up with a plan (i.e. do we ‘sleep train’, do we let him cry-it-out, do we go in and rock him), but instead would ask her mom/sister/aunt/friend’s advice and go with that. Not only was she losing confidence in her own ability to troubleshoot and set expectations for her baby, but she wasn’t using her husband as a teammate. Because they had so many other people around at all times, the usual ‘dive-in together as a new little family’ system was broken here. Long after the initial first two months, this couple was still dependent on others for overnight help, meals and advice. They often took the advice of others over discussion and decisions made together as a couple.
Now, don’t get me wrong, help after having a baby is essential. But if you use your helpers in place of doing your own research or in place of working as a team with your husband, there are going to be problems down the road.
So, you might ask, what ever happened with this couple?
Well, eventually my friend’s mom tired of staying overnight to help soothe the fussy baby. My friend got tired of receiving conflicting information and opinions from nurses, doctors, her aunt, her neighbor and online forums.
Once some of the help died down—they succeeded. The couple learned that there are always going to be different opinions, but that they needed to learn to do what was best for their individual situation and baby. They learned to finally count on each other for support instead of going outside of their little family for all things. They became a parenting team.
They learned that while it certainly does take a village to help raise a child, the parenting part needs to start with two people in the confines of their own four walls.
Share This Blog