It had been a rough day. Nothing seemed to have gone well. The directors were not pleased with the sales figures. Customers were complaining because of not receiving on time the goods they ordered. An atmosphere of gloom prevailed in the office the whole day. I was depressed as I drove home that evening.
Opening the gate that led to our front door, I was suddenly brought to my senses by the excited chatter of our two-year-old daughter as she ran down the pathway to meet me. What she was saying I do not know. It was not important. But I was immediately transported from the realms of the office gloom to the world of our little girl. What a relief to be home! Yes, children somehow have a way of making one forget one’s problems.
My wife and I are in our mid-thirties, but we both agree that the last two years with our little daughter have been a real education. True, we have had our tiring, and even frustrating, moments. At times we could “eat her up” with affection, and at other times we almost wish we had! But, considering all, we have found it a joy to have her around.
Are you expecting a new addition to the family? Are you ready for the newcomer? You say you already have six of them? Fine! With your experience no doubt you could add much to the following.
Nine Months of Preparation
Conception, gestation and birth are truly a marvel. Men will probably never be able to explain fully just what takes place during these nine months in mother’s womb. Think of it! At conception this creature that is due to affect your lives so much is smaller than the dot on the letter “i.” Three weeks later it has grown to about the size of the letter “t.”
At five months the unborn baby may stretch, head to foot, the width of the page of a journal. Another four months, and all six to ten pounds of him will let out a cry that will thrill you and which virtually says: “Here I am. Are you ready for me?” Actually, these nine months have provided just enough time for the preparation of your mind, emotions and body for the welcoming of your new friend.
Remember, mother, what is taking place within you is a very marvelous and natural process. Do not be overanxious about the changes in your body. But it will be worth while to learn something of the marvelous development from fertilization of a single ovum to the final delivery of the newborn baby. A visit to the library or search online will help you to locate this information. It will give you insight, and enable you to get ready for the newcomer.
What name will you choose? Your child will be known by it for a long time, so it should be given serious thought. Some parents choose names from Holly Quran or the Bible. Others select a name having more of a family connection. You may think of a name that has some personal meaning to yourselves. Some parents have even made up an original name. But do not give a name that will result in awkwardness or embarrassment to the young one as he grows older. Maher-shalal-hash-baz may have been all right for the Israelites of Bible times, but it would have its difficulties in most places today!
You may also want to select a doctor, one in whom you can feel confidence. The Rh factor can sometimes cause anxiety and so it is wise early in your pregnancy to find out if this could be a problem in your case. However, rarely does the first child develop this Rh complication.
Then there is the matter of clothes to buy and napkins (diapers), of which you will need plenty. Also, will you have the baby delivered at home or in the hospital? Are you, as father, going to be present with your wife at the time of delivery? These are just a few of the many things you will wish to ask yourselves and ponder over during these nine months. But there are other decisions to be made.
One early decision is whether the baby will be breast- or bottle-fed. It is true that bottle-feeding is less bothersome. But even though cow’s milk may be adapted to meet adequately the physical needs of the young one, there is a vital emotional need that mother fulfills when she nurses her child.
Also, no substitution can match perfectly the nourishment and protection that mother’s milk was designed to give a baby. It progresses from colostrum in the first two or three days, which is an important food for the little one, to a milk that becomes stronger according to the baby’s needs. Breast milk has a constant temperature; it is germ free; it is easily digested; it contains all the vitamins, and there is evidence that it provides protection from infections.
If you decide to breast-feed your baby, you may find some difficulty at the start, perhaps because of tension or anxiety. Do not worry. Perseverance usually brings satisfying results. You may find that it is several weeks before you feel that the secretion of milk has fully set in.
Then there is the matter of inoculation. It seems that medical science is continually adding to the number of vaccinations and inoculations that it recommends for the protection of the young. It is your decision to make as to which vaccinations your baby will have, if any at all. The pages of this and other journals have contained fine information on this subject, and some research will put you in a better position to decide what you believe to be best.
Do not be surprised if you find that your life is not your own when the newcomer first arrives at home. Due to his special needs, you may find that your homelife is governed to a large extent by the desires and dictates of the baby. However, gradually the little one can be trained by firmness and kindness to realize that he has become a member of an already established household, and equilibrium can be restored.
Right from the start help your child to understand the need to obey, even if it means at times using an open hand applied to a sensitive part of his little anatomy. Obedience can be a real protection from all sorts of dangers. To children the whole world is something new and wonderful to explore, but such explorations can be fraught with danger. Obedience will be your newcomer’s protection.
At a very early age, between one and two years, children can be taught to sit quietly for periods of time. Children like to have books the same as Mom and Dad, and a little cardboard book with appropriate pictures pasted inside will often suffice at the start when pages easily get torn.
If your child becomes restless, it may be helpful to take a brief walk outside for some fresh air. Should he continue to misbehave, the next “walk” would not be so refreshing. The time will soon come when just to mention the idea of going outside will recall the unpleasant experience there, and will get a quick response. Remember also that commendation is very important in all fields of training. When your child does sit well, commend him, and he will glow inside.
Teaching your child to count, learn rhymes, or to read is all part of his training. The mind is a marvelous gift, and the extent to which it is developed at this early age will often determine the extent of its use later on.
There is also much training to be done in the home. Teaching the child to put away his toys, to put his dirty clothes in the right place, to dress and undress himself can all be done before a child is three. It may take longer to have him do these things himself, but the time you spend teaching him is an investment. You will realize the benefit later.
It is indeed a pleasure to see little ones, without being told, putting away their toys, straightening up their room or doing other chores they have been taught. It is a pleasure, too, to hear them preface their requests with “Please, Daddy,” or to say, “Thank you, Mommy.” But best of all to see is their growth in appreciation for God. You may sit down to a meal one day and before expressing thanks in prayer your little one may remind you, “Close eyes, Daddy.” How happy you will be that he is learning to copy your example of thanking God! It is never too early in life to begin building in his mind and heart a right relationship with his Creator.
Of course, it is always good to remember that there are no ‘little angels’ in the form of children, so be prepared for disappointments. At times there may seem to be no response to your training and you may feel completely frustrated and depressed. You may often find yourself thinking, “Am I training him in the right way?” But never give up.
Children go through all kinds of moods and stages. There are no fixed rules for handling their varying temperaments. What can be said is that they thrive on love, are tamed under discipline, thrill at kindness and appreciate patience. When they are as old as you are, they will thank you for the training you gave them.
Joys and Satisfaction
The first cry of the newcomer will bring you, its mother, an indescribable surge of joy. The baby’s first smile, lifting its head to see what is going on, its gurgling noises, trying to chew on its own feet, following you around the room with jerky head movements are all occasions that will also bring you joy. In fact, you will find that not a day goes by without some surprise and discussion of the little one’s development. One day you will peep into its little crib and get the biggest and brightest smile, and you may feel sure it is a smile of recognition of you, its father.
It brings much satisfaction to parents to see the child developing mentally and physically. You may be eating one day, and perhaps reading a book at your side, when suddenly you become aware that as you raise your fork so does this little mimic sitting at your side. Then you notice that he is also pretending to read, carefully studying your exact hand and arm positions so as to copy them. You will often see yourself in your little one.
When was the last time you jumped around like a frog, or pretended to be a pussycat, or squeezed under a bed to hide? You may find yourself doing all kinds of strange things. Gamboling or standing on your head will be fun. Cows, horses and even the local dog will take on added attraction. You may be anxious to return home at night.
On the other hand, as mother, you may at times find being with the baby all day quite trialsome. But then he will do something that makes you just want to hug him. Perhaps you are brushing his hair and you tell him to hold his head still. Then you notice: There he is, hands pressed tightly against his face, mouth open and cheeks pushed in as he ‘holds his head still.’
Yes, you have a lot to which to look forward. But it is good to realize that rearing children in this modern, crime-ridden world is not easy. There is an evil influence all around—in neighborhoods, in schools, on playgrounds—and you will have your hands full to keep your child from becoming as so many other children are, “disobedient to parents.”
It is a sad truth—many young ones today are rebellious and turn to delinquency, and so, instead of bringing joy and satisfaction to their parents, they are a source of great pain and heartache to them. It is vital, therefore, that young ones be well taught from infancy. Only in this way can you hope to prevent calamity from befalling your child, and heartache for yourself.
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