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Reality of Fatherhood Isn’t As Expected

Questioner

B

Reply Date

Apr 21, 2017

Question

I have a 1-month-old daughter. I'm not feeling as I thought I would feel as a father. I get frustrated when I spend so much time trying to get her to sleep. The crying is piercing in my ears when she has gas and I do my best, but have to take deep breaths before I punch the wall. Late at night, when I'm dead tired and I have finished bottle feeding (after the baby has been breastfed) I find myself getting right back out of bed when I hear her in the bassinet struggling and starting to cry. My wife seems to have a better touch than I have and has this unbelievable patience when these things happen. When I see how calm and understanding she is, I feel awful. This is not how I planned on being a father. I wanted to enjoy my baby and when I do, it's when she is calm and smiling, but once the crying, fidgeting, and lack of sleep kick in, I lose it in the daytime, not to mention the period of time where my wife basically ignores her husband due to the need to care for the baby. I feel like a ghost in my own house and have no idea how to deal with these feelings. I am miserable and feel like a poor father. Thanks for any advice.

Counselor

Answer


fatherhood

As-salamu `alaykum dear brother,

 

Thank you for the question that you have asked. The problem that you have described is very common among new parents and perhaps you can gain some suggestions and hints from the following, in sha’ Allah:

Al-hamdu lillah, Allah Most High has indeed blessed you with a wonderful gift of a daughter.

*To raise a child is not easy, nor is it difficult; it is different.  It is only different from what we were used to doing when we were single.

*By definition, when you are alone you are “single.” When you get married, your whole life undergoes a change because now you are a “couple.” When you have children, then both your lives change once again, because now you are a “family.” Each stage has its own growing pains.

*One of the many gifts and blessings from Allah Most High is the gift of children. The reason that children are a gift is that through our children we learn about ourselves. We learn about patience (sabr), we learn about worry, we learn about sleepless nights, we learn about self-control, we learn about how to control anger and frustration, we learn and grow all the time. Our children teach us all of this. During this time they are the teachers, and we parents are the pupils.

*Please also remember that your sleepless nights and worry will not end now. They will continue for the rest of your life. Parents always worry about their children.

*Everyone goes through trials, tribulations, difficulties, and tests. That is the purpose of life. But the reason for these trials is for us to develop and grow and find our inner strength. If we are willing to endure, with patient perseverance, then we find that we become better parents and better human beings.

An example is that of a butterfly. A butterfly starts off its life as a caterpillar in a cocoon. A cocoon is a place of safety. It is a comfort zone. It is all the things that you want in life, where everything must go according to plan and with ease. A caterpillar eventually struggles and fights and goes through a lot of hardship to fight the cocoon. It then emerges as a wonderful and beautiful butterfly. As new parents, we are like the caterpillar in a cocoon. We have to go through the battles of parenting so that we can eventually emerge as better and more understanding parents.

The above are simply general comments. I will now attend to some of your specific issues, bearing in mind the comments that I have made above.

*Frustration is a normal part of being a father. We would all like to have a baby who is always clean, happy, smiling, playing all the time, and smelling nice. Unfortunately, babies do not come with batteries and an on/off switch: reality is different. It is because of all the frustrations, sleepless nights, and worries that the parents have, Allah Most High reminds the children to look after their parents and to be kind to parents and to pray for their parents; it is because the parents go through a lot of hardships in raising children. Allah Most High states in the Qur’an, “My Lord! Bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood” (Al-Israa’ 17:24).

*It appears from your letter that your daughter is suffering from a very common childhood ailment known as colic; many children at this age suffer from colic. Colic is a condition that is more common in girls than in boys; there is no specific cause for it and there is no specific cure for it. It is marked by restlessness, lots of crying (usually because of abdominal bloating and upset tummy); the crying is usually worse at night; usually, the baby sleeps during the day and even plays normally, but starts to get restless towards the evening. Some children grow out of this condition fairly quickly, while others may take up to 1 year or 18 months.My advice to you would be to consult your doctor or pediatrician to exclude any illnesses or ailments or allergies and to reassure yourself that everything is fine. Some doctors prescribe either herbal remedies or mild sedatives that help the baby to sleep better at night.

*Al-hamdu lillah, the very fact that you get out of bed means that you are a good father. I am sure that you are tired from working during the day and you would like to get some rest at night. Some parents ignore the baby or insist that it is the job of the mother, but in your case, you are willing to share this responsibility and duty. So even if you sometimes get frustrated, please remember that this is part of your “growing pains” of fatherhood. But the fact that you are worried and concerned makes you a good father.

*It is perfectly natural to feel that you are being isolated in your own house. This is part of the new roles and relationships. You are no longer a couple, you are now a family. Your wife has gone through 9 months of pregnancy. She is currently also breastfeeding. She also needs time for rest and recovery. Some woman take many months to recover back to their normal physical health again.

But please remember that in this family, everything has now changed. When you first married your wife, you only had one person to love and she only had one person to love. But now, you have two people to love and she also has two people to love. By spending more time with the baby does not mean that she loves you less. In fact, a new child increases the love between a husband and wife. Furthermore, you must please try to be patient with your wife regarding marital relations. Depending on the type of delivery that she had (episiotomy,cesarean) the wound healing may take some time. But everything returns to normal with patience and understanding and kindness.

Please also take note of the following general advice:

*With time, everything will come right, in sha’ Allah: the Qur’an tells us, “So lose not heart nor fall into despair” (Aal `Imran 3:139).

*The test that you are going through is not unusual; you have not mentioned any abnormality or other problems with your child. There are some parents whose baby may be born blind or deaf or crippled, so we need to give thanks to Allah Most High, for he does not place on us any burden more than we can bear: “On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear” (Al-Mu’minun 23:62). Allah Most High is Most Forgiving. Even in the frustration that you experience in raising your child is the mercy and forgiveness from Allah Most High, as in the saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that” (Al-Bukhari, 7.545, Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah–may Allah be pleased with them).

*In sha’ Allah, your baby will soon settle down and be the apple of your eye. Daughters are usually the favorites of the fathers; so even though your wife may be spending more time with her now, please wait for the day when she first starts to say “Daddy,” and your whole life will change. Remember, this too will pass. The Qur’an reminds us, “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: verily, with every difficulty there is relief” (Al-Inshirah 94:5).

*Being a good parent means learning how to be patient. This is not easy. This comes with practice, more practice, and self-control. But the benefits and rewards are tremendous. Furthermore, babies respond much better to the shoulder of a father. So any time that your daughter starts to cry late at night, place her gently on your shoulder, walk around the house, and recite dhikr (remembrance of Allah) out loud. This soothing, humming noise will put her to sleep soon, in sha’ Allah. Patience is the key. Abu Said (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “ He who remains patient, Allah will bestow patience upon him, and he who is satisfied with what he has, Allah will make him self–sufficient. And there is no gift better and vast than patience” (Al-Bukhari, 8:477).

We wish you and your wife all the happiness and success with your new baby daughter and may Allah Most High bless you with more healthy children.

Salams and warmest regards.

**

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About Dr. Ahmed Adam

Dr. Ahmed Adam is a medical doctor by profession . He has 4 University Degrees in the fields of Science & Medicine. He has been in private practice for 8 years. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation.He is passionate about developing the youth and inspiring the youth with hope & courage. He has recently extended his studies relating to the human brain and is a licensed NBI Practitioner (Brain Profiles) and a licensed NLP Practitioner (both certified and licensed internationally).

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