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Baby being changed on a changing table

Communicating Roles

When you take on your new title as a father, the dynamics in many of your relationships will change. Within your relationship with your partner, new roles and responsibilities will arise. Sometimes, the adjustment to parenthood seems natural and everyone falls into their respective roles with ease and little to no conflict. You and your partner might automatically take on certain chores and tasks in taking care of your home, work, and baby responsibilities.

Other times, new roles as parents can be a source of conflict. Assumptions are made about which tasks fall to each parent. If both parents are not on the same page, frustrations can arise. It is helpful for you and your partner to communicate your beliefs about the roles of each parent. Below are a few tips to help.

Talk about it early.

Have this conversation before the baby is born. Here are a few questions to help spark discussion:

  • What do you think should be the responsibilities of each parent?
  • What roles did each of your own parents assume?
  • What would you like me to be responsible for?
  • How can I support you?
  • Which of our current responsibilities should change?
  • How are we going to split the tasks related to the baby (changing diapers, night waking, feeding, etc.)?

Explore your assumptions.

What beliefs do you hold about gender roles? We often formulate our beliefs from images we see in the media or messages we’ve received from friends or family members during our upbringing. Do you ascribe to more traditional gender roles? What about your partner? Also, keep in mind that from a young age, your child will be watching you and your partner take on certain roles and will develop their own views. What messages do you want to send your kids about the role of a mother and a father? Whatever your beliefs and assumptions, you want to make sure that they align with your partner’s. These are important topics to explore with each other.

Check in often.

Sometimes the plan you have in place might sound good initially but may not work for you when it is actually implemented. You might feel stressed or overwhelmed with your new duties, or maybe a responsibility that you took on is a challenge for you. Communicate these feelings to your partner and work together to make adjustments as needed. Keep in mind that new responsibilities will come up as the child gets older. Early and frequent check-ins can keep them from being a potential source of conflict.  

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew Jatau is a Licensed Professional Counselor and content creator currently working at Hopscotch, a leading pediatric behavioral health company.  He is the founder and CEO of Mylemarks, a website dedicated to providing engaging social-emotional resources for children and adolescents.  Andrew has worked in a number of settings providing mental health services to youth and families, including a day treatment center, a university counseling center, and most recently, a private practice in Virginia Beach.  He previously served as a Fatherhood Consultant with CHKD, helping to organize and facilitate fatherhood programs in the Hampton Roads area.  Andrew resides in Aurora, CO with his wife and two daughters.