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Fatherhood, Co-Parenting and Child Support information. Get a better of understanding of your rights as a parent before you go to court. We will also give you information on how to be a better father and co-parent with the mother. Our goal is to increase father's involvement in the family structure.

How to Comfort a Child After Mom or Dad Gets Angry

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Monday, February 01, 2021

How to Comfort a Child After Mom or Dad Gets Angry

Parents aren’t supposed to lose their temper, but everyone does. It’s still possible to be a good parent afterward.

By Matthew Utley Jul 23 2018, 8:55 AM for Fatherly.com

It’s hard being a calm parent. The lack of sleep, the uncertainty of inexperience, the social pressures from other people — all of it undermines the effort to stay chill. Parents aren’t supposed to lose their temper, but they inevitably do. And that’s upsetting to children. If it happens a lot early in life, research indicates that the stress of exposure to anger can create behavior patterns that affect future socialization, emotional management, and self-esteem. Exposure to volatility can even lead to anxiety issues and OCD. Though the ideal solution may be to remain calm, the more workable solution is to know how to calm a kid down.

“Children constantly learn from their environments, especially their primary relationships,” explains Shanna Donhauser, a family therapist and childhood mental health specialist in Seattle. “Rupture and conflict are inevitable. But repairing those ruptures strengthens relationships and builds the foundation of trust, comfort, and safety.”

Donhauser has identified four steps to help parents help their children work through the frightening experience of witnessing a parent’s anger. And it is work — acting like it didn’t happen isn’t a solution. Left to process those emotions and experiences on their own, kids may draw some very unhealthy conclusions.

How to Calm a Kid After Mom or Dad Fight

  • Calm down. Parents need to regulate their own emotions before addressing what happened.
  • Reflect on what the child has seen and experienced. Parental anger is very frightening and possibly threatening to a child. Parents should imagine it from the child’s perspective.
  • Explain what happened and how the kid experienced it. Be explicit with emotions, and ask for the kid’s help for finding ways to avoid it.
  • Connect. It’s not making up or covering up what happened — it’s having a normal parent-child connection

Calm Down

“It’s like the airline safety rule – ‘secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others,’ ” explains Donhauser. “You cannot support your child when you are still angry or in the process of calming down.”
If it takes time to calm down — if a long walk or trip to the gym is in order, or at least a prolonged cool-down period — it’s okay for parents to explain to the child what is happening, where they’ll be, and to reassure them that they’ll return to talk about what happened.

Reflect on What the Kid has Experienced

Parents should see the situation from the children’s perspective — a parent is bigger, stronger, and louder. Were there aggressive gestures or posturing? Was something thrown or broken? “Don’t do this until you are calm,” warns Donhauser. “It will likely reactivate your emotions a little.”

Repair the Damage

Once calm and having reflected on their child’s experience, parents need to make a sincere effort to reconnect. Inviting the child to sit in a safe and comfortable space is a good start. Some kids won’t want to talk directly about what happened and will want to play as they work through their emotions. That’s okay.
“Share your intentions and emotions,” advises Donhauser. “Then bring your child into the repair process so that they can co-create solutions to this problem. Children are creative and often come up with great solutions when given the opportunity. When invited to create solutions, they are also more likely to remain cooperative and follow through.”

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Preparing for Fatherhood: 16 Ways to Get Ready to Become a Dad

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Monday, February 01, 2021

  • Preparing for Fatherhood:
    16 Ways to Get Ready to Become a Dad

Medically reviewed by Karen Gill, M.D. — Written by Sara McTigue
on March 26, 2020 for Healthline ParentHood

Whether you’re still dealing with the shock or you’ve been waiting for this moment for years, finding out you’re going to be a father is a life-defining moment. It’s normal to have a mixture of feelings, from pure joy to outright terror — even if this is something you’ve always wanted.

In all honesty, it’s hard to ever feel completely prepared to become a father. However, we’ve got some ideas for you as you await your little one’s birth and also to put into place in the exciting-yet-tiring, exhilarating-yet-exhausting months to follow!

1. Start your research

You may not be the one who is physically carrying the baby, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a part of the pregnancy and birth experience. The same can go for those who are using a surrogate or adopting — there are definitely ways to feel involved. Plenty of books out there are written for expectant fathers, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those. Join some online groups or sign up for a pregnancy newsletter. If your partner is experiencing pregnancy symptoms, from morning sickness to heartburn, do some research. Understanding what they’re feeling can help you to better support them as they carry your child.

When the time for labor, birth, and caring for a newborn arrives, knowing what to expect can make the entire thing a much better experience. Read about vaginal and cesarean deliveries, breastfeeding, diaper changing, and more.

2. Get healthy

Before your baby arrives is a great time to focus on your own health. If you smoke, try to quit. Exposure to smoke during pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of congenital heart defects in newborns. How are your eating habits? Eating well now will help fuel your long days (and nights!) of new parenthood. If your diet could benefit from some small changes, consider these healthy swaps. Or add some fiber-rich and immune-boosting foods to your meals. If it’s been a while, schedule an annual physical with your family doctor or internist. And find out if you’re up to date on all your vaccinations, like whooping cough.

3. Talk about parenting with your co-parent

Now is a great time to start discussions about the kind of parents you plan to be. Are both of you all-in on breastfeeding? (Support from the father is critical to breastfeeding success!) Do you want the baby to sleep in a crib in their own room as soon as you get home? Will both of you be working? What are your plans for childcare? Remember that these things are still theoretical for both of you. Once the baby arrives your feelings may change. Breastfeeding might be more challenging than you had hoped or you may want to rethink your feelings about cloth diapering.

There are also discussions that won’t be relevant just yet, but they are important nonetheless. Discussing discipline, including things like spanking, should happen before your child becomes a feisty toddler. Beginning the discussion now opens those lines of communication and helps you to get on the same parenting page.

4. Start playing as a team

Speaking of being on the same page, now is the time to start thinking of yourselves as a team. You, your co-parent, and your baby are linked for life, even if your romantic relationship with your co-parent doesn’t continue. It’s a good idea to start viewing everything through that lens and letting go of keeping score as if you’re in a competition. If the person carrying your child is feeling exhausted and dealing with morning sickness, helping them out is also helping you and your baby. Feeding them what they are able to eat, picking up the slack on housekeeping, or making sure to check in on them every day are some ways you can support your common purpose — caring for your family.

5. Decide on the father you want to be

Not everyone has a great relationship with their own father. If you’re lucky enough to have a great dad of your own, you may want to be just like him — and that’s wonderful.
If your own dad left a lot to be desired you may feel nervous about your own role as a father. The great news is that you get to decide how you approach parenthood. Find your own fatherhood role models. You’re creating this role from scratch and it’s up to you to decide how you want it to look.

6. Find fellow dads

On that note, it’s great to find some other fathers for your friend group. Having someone familiar with the challenges of parenthood gives you an outlet and a place to ask questions, vent, or commiserate about the experience of becoming a dad. There are online groups, church groups, and groups you can find through your doctor or hospital.

7. Go to the appointments whenever you can

Prenatal appointments are a great way to get excited about the pregnancy. Of course there is the experience of seeing your baby-to-be on ultrasound, but even the other routine checks can help you to connect with the pregnancy and learn more about what to expect. You have an opportunity to ask your own questions, find out what your partner is experiencing, and learn more about your baby’s development. While work schedules and other challenges may prevent you from attending every appointment, talk to your co-parent about creating a schedule that allows you to be there as much as possible. This can continue when the baby is the one scheduled for newborn checkups.

8. Acknowledge your sex life may change

Becoming a parent can definitely have an effect on your sex life. From the first moment you learn your partner is expecting you might feel a range of emotions — intensely connected to them and craving the intimacy of sex, nervous about doing anything that may affect the pregnancy, or simply… confused. This is another place where open communication is key. You’ll hear many jokes about how your sex life is over, or about the changes that happen to the body during pregnancy. These comments aren’t helpful and ignore the emotional complexity of sex and parenthood. The reality is that sex after pregnancy will take time — and we’re not just talking the 6-week recovery that is suggested for physical healing after labor and delivery. It’s important to be sensitive to all the changes you’re both going through — lack of sleep, breastfeeding, the emotional impact of having a newborn — and to communicate with your partner about their needs and your own when it comes to intimacy and sex. But sex after a baby can be even better. You’re connected in ways you never have been and the shared experience of becoming parents can bring many couples even closer.

9. Celebrate the milestones

Often the progress of pregnancy and the celebrations like baby showers are focused on the pregnant person, but you are part of this too. Consider hosting a co-ed shower so that you can be part of the fun. Go shopping with your partner to choose items for your baby. Keep a journal about how you’re feeling. Take lots of pictures of you throughout the pregnancy as well. Documenting these life changes is just as important for you!

10. Embrace your place in the preparations

There’s a lot to do to prepare for a new arrival. It’s definitely not just about carrying the baby. Creating a registry, preparing a space, saving money, researching child care, and so many more items will need to be tackled to prepare for your newborn. You may find that you enjoy being part of all the tasks or that you’re better suited to handling only certain aspects. Look for many ways to be involved in getting ready for your new arrival. 

A few suggestions: 

learn how to install and use the car seat (and volunteer to teach others)

make phone calls about childcare or insurance 

put together furniture or paint the room 

research the best baby carriers or formula 

take a class on birth or breastfeeding with your partner 

talk to your employer about your leave options 

pack the hospital bag.

11. Act as the communicator (or bouncer) when needed

A new baby can bring about the best — and worst — in people. Remember that talk about your team? It’s you, your co-parent, and your new baby. It’s up to your team to decide on things like who attends the birth, how soon you welcome guests, and a million other decisions you’ll make together. If family or friends question your choices it’s important that you speak up. Remember that it’s healthy and normal to set boundaries. If you want to celebrate the birth by inviting everyone you know to your home in the days after your baby’s arrival that is great. But if you want to limit visitors and spend some time alone as a family that is equally great. You can be the one to let others know what you will — and won’t — be doing as a family.

12. Advocate for your co-parent

Not just in family situations. This may mean speaking up to ask questions at appointments or during labor. This could mean doing what you can to support them in their decision to return to work — or their decision to stay at home. This may also mean looking for signs of postpartum depression and helping them to get the right professional help. You’re a powerful force in supporting their health. And having two healthy parents is good for your baby.

13. Share responsibilities

We talked about this through pregnancy, but make sure that you continue to stay involved when the baby arrives. It is easy for fathers to feel left out in the early days, especially if the other parent is breastfeeding. You may feel like your role isn’t as important — but it is. 

Ways to care for your newborn: 

change diapers — not just during the day, but at middle of the night wakings
give baths 
spend time skin-to-skin to help establish a secure attachment 
read to your baby 
choose a special song to sing at bedtime
bottle feed (or if baby is exclusively breastfed, be the burper or care for them pre- and post-mealtime) 
bring your co-parent drinks and snacks 
take on chores like dishes and laundry; you can baby wear while you do many things around the house!

14. Keep your sense of humor

Parenting is messy. It’s hard and complicated and exhausting. But it’s also fun and exciting and rewarding. The key to getting through the moments — both the good and the bad — is being able to laugh. When you haven’t slept enough and every diaper seems to be a blowout and you accidentally pour breast milk into your coffee your ability to laugh will carry you through the challenges.

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About DFFC

The Delaware Fatherhood & Family Coalition is an extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative created specifically to give a voice to fathers and the importance of their involvement for the well-being of their children.

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