There is a difference between mother and father. It’s so obvious that we don’t even stop to think about what the difference means. The relationship of a mother and her child develops quite literally from the inside out. For nine months, the mother and child are together in a physical symbiosis that defies comprehension. On the most elemental level, they share in the miracle of creation, and the day of birth is but one (very important!) milestone in their already established connection.
We fathers, on the other hand, come to our children from the outside at the beginning. We can participate in the progress of Mom’s pregnancy; we can place our hands in strategic spots to feel the kicks and jabs; we can listen to the swooshing heartbeat through a stethoscope; and now, thanks to the marvels of technology, we can watch videos of our child floating gently within her embryonic world.
But our experience is always filtered; no matter how we participate, a man never holds his child inside his own body. Our first real contact with our child is when we pick up our newborn and cradle her in our arms.
In some profound way, our biological placement in the process of birth mirrors the challenges we face throughout out daughters’ lives. For most mothers, a primary struggle of parenthood is stepping back far enough to allow the child room to grow and develop. The challenge for most fathers, on the other hand, is coming in close enough so that we can build a strong and lasting bond.
What are you doing today to grow closer to your daughter?
Adapted from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a New Dad by Joe Kelly and used by permission.
Joe Kelly is the best-selling author of Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter and 5 other fathering books. He is also Co-Founder of New Moon Girls.