Why it’s good to plan a family support network
The early months of your baby’s life are a time of adjustment, and baby’s feeding routine and sleeping patterns can be exhausting. It’s normal to feel isolated, lonely and overwhelmed at times.
A family support network can help you and your partner feel like you have practical and emotional ‘back-up’ as new parents – especially if you’re planning to go back to paid work soon after baby is born.
Why a family support network is good for your child
A support network not only helps you and your partner, but also helps you set up positive experiences for your child.
Having positive, supportive relationships with family, friends, neighbours, early childhood educators and people in cultural groups or faith-based networks helps your child to develop into a healthy and happy adult. In fact, your child’s relationships early in life shape the way his brain develops. Relationships also influence other areas like social development and communication.
Who can be part of a support network?
A support network can include your own parents, siblings or extended family, or friends and people in church or community groups.
If you don’t have family or friends close by, you could think about other people you or your partner could ask if you need help or someone to talk to.
A great source of support is other families who are at a similar stage of life. Many parents find that just talking with other families can boost their happiness and confidence. You’re also likely to learn about other services if you’re in contact with other parents.
A good way to meet other parents is through birth classes, parent groups in your area or workmates who have recently had a baby. You could also meet other dads and share experiences by joining an online forum.
When your family situation is complicated
Sometimes starting your own family can bring up difficult issues or highlight complicated relationships with your own parents, siblings or extended family.
Addressing these issues can be hard, but with baby on the way, you might decide that there are benefits to building or mending these relationships.
It might be up to you to take the first step – perhaps by getting back in touch if you haven’t spoken for a while, or letting your family know that you’re expecting. If things are really complicated, you could ask a trusted friend, GP or counsellor for ideas about how to start.
Things you can do
- Think about what support your partner will have if you’re planning to go back to paid work soon after the baby arrives.
- If you want to build or mend relationships with your extended family, ask a trusted friend, GP or counsellor for ideas.
- Look into parent and family services and services and support.
- Talk to neighbours with children, ask a child and family health nurse, look in the local newspaper or visit your local library for ideas on how to meet other new parents.
- Keep in contact with people from birth classes or strike up a conversation with workmates who are new parents or expecting a baby.
- Ask your child and family health nurse about parent groups and playgroups in your area and which ones have other dads attending.