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Parenting through Rise-filtered glasses
As a new parent, you might find yourself cut off from some of your usual social outlets, stuck at home for long stretches of time with only the baby for company. At this time, family and friends can be more important than ever, providing support and advice to boost your confidence and help get you through the tougher days. If your friends and family live far away, or if you don’t have face-to-face access, online social media can help you and your partner feel more connected to the outside world. Emotional support and positive feedback from other parents can also be invaluable as you figure things out [1] [2]. Social media can give you access to this, but it also helps you stay in touch with old friends who keep you connected to the parts of your life outside your parenting role [3]. Beating loneliness with online social interaction Your baby is always going to be your first priority, but these other social connections are important. As humans, we need to have meaningful relationships with each other – when we disconnect socially it can affect our health, making us more stressed and more likely to get sick, and affecting our sleep and concentration [3]. Social media can help you feel less isolated but it’s important to pay attention to the way you use it. Parents who actively engage with friends on social media tend to feel less stressed and more positive about their role as parents [2] but people who just spend more time on social media without engaging tend to feel more isolated, not less [3]. The difference here is between use and interaction. We’ve all spent time staring into our phones, refreshing our social media feeds in the hope that something new will come up. But this isn’t going to help you feel more connected when you’re knee-deep in baby wipes waiting for your partner to come home. You’ve got to reach out and engage with people if you want to experience the positive effects of social media. Turning off the filters It’s also important to keep some perspective on what you see through the lens of social media. We all know that Facebook life isn’t real life, and that nobody ever looks as good as they do on Instagram, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing things through Rise-filtered glasses and believing everybody on social media is having a better time than you.  If social media is your only window into your friends’ lives, you might start thinking they are living happier, more connected lives than you [3]. Try to remember that you’re only seeing an edited glimpse of what your friends want the rest of the world to see. When your social networks start making you feel worse instead of better, take a step back and have a think about who you could reach out to for a chat. It’s the social aspect of social networks that’s valuable, so the next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through posts, send a message instead – ask for advice, vent your feelings, or just tell someone a funny story about your day. The empathy, advice and humour that you come across online can give you a life-affirming confidence boost and make you feel better about how you’re getting on as a parent [4]. You might even want to start by making a post here on Click.   References [1] Madge C., O’Connor H. (2006). Parenting gone wired: Empowerment of new mothers on the Internet? Social and Cultural Geography, 7, 199–220.[2] Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe‐Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Sullivan, J. M. (2012). New parents' Facebook use at the transition to parenthood. Family relations, 61(3), 455-469.[3] Primack, B.A. et al (2017) Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 1-8.[4] Fletcher, R., & St. George, J. (2011). Heading into fatherhood—nervously: Support for fathering from online dads. Qualitative Health Research, 21(8), 1101-1114.
Article | social media, parenting
0 6 min read
Shared parental leave
Shared parental leave could be the answer to a number of tricky issues like sharing childcare and other housework, but studies have shown that it may not be as straightforward as first thought. Since April 2015, parents have been entitled to take 12 months of shared leave. In the past, dads could only take two weeks’ parental leave but parents can now choose how to divide up the first year between themselves. We know that the transition to parenthood is one of the toughest hurdles a couple can face together (though it doesn’t have to hurt!). Shared parental leave can make this transition easier, but there are some practical and financial factors to consider. Managing the demands of a new born baby, along with all the existing household chores, is a lot to ask of one parent alone. Shared parental leave means that both parents can sometimes be at home together and the load can be shared during the day. It can also help new dads – who often experience the transition differently to mums – adjust better to the demands of parenting [1]. One study showed that dads who take parental leave spend more time with their family, get more involved with the children, and take more of a shared role in parenting and other household tasks than those who don’t [2]. Your decision about whether and how to share leave is likely to be influenced by a number of factors, including which of you earns the most, and how parental leave is handled by your employers [3]. There are also a number of social factors such as the traditional gender roles of dad as breadwinner and mum as caregiver, and more practical needs like breastfeeding [3], all of which may play a part in your decision. Couples who reject traditional gender roles are more likely to take up shared leave [2]. But it’s not always easy to break down these barriers, and some dads may find their workplace culture getting in the way of taking parental leave. One study showed dads facing negative reactions from colleagues and bosses at the idea of reducing their working hours to look after babies [3]. This range of influential factors gives an idea of just how complex the decision to share leave can actually be. So, what does this all mean for couple relationships? Well, there isn’t yet much evidence about the effect of dads’ parental leave on relationships. But, what we do know is that shared leave can help dads be more involved with childcare and housework, and that people whose relationships have a more balanced share of chores often report feeling more satisfied [4]. Whatever you decide, you might find it helpful to read an overview of the law and your entitlement over on gov.uk. If you are expecting a new baby, you and your partner should consider these factors together and decide what might be best for you and your family. References [1] Wisensale, S. K. (2001). Family leave policy: The political economy of work and family in America. ME Sharpe. [2] Seward, R. R., Yeatts, D. E., Zottarelli, L. K., & Fletcher, R. G. (2006). Fathers taking parental leave and their involvement with children: An exploratory study. Community, Work and Family, 9(1), 1-9. [3] McKay, L., & Doucet, A. (2010).  Without taking away her leave: A Canadian case study of couples’ decisions on fathers’ use of paid parental leave. Fathering, 8(3), 300. [4] Kershaw, T., Murphy, A., Divney, A., Magriples, U., Niccolai, L., & Gordon, D. (2013). What's love got to do with it: Relationship functioning and mental and physical quality of life among pregnant adolescent couples. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 288-301.
Article | parenting, work
0 3 min read
How to be a happy young parent
As teenagers, we are still figuring out who we are, and what we want from life. We are forging our adult identities, and our romantic relationships set the tone for the future. Finding out you’re going to become a young parent plunges you into another major life transition just as you’re figuring out how to deal with the rest of life’s struggles [1]. Ensuring you have the right support in place can make all the difference. If you’re in a relationship, the increased stress of pregnancy and raising a child can lead to putting extra strain on the relationship. One study found nearly half of young parents’ relationships had broken up by the time the child was a year old [2]. You can protect against this by knowing about the factors that keep relationships strong, and where to get extra support. Getting support Just having a partner can be beneficial to you as a parent. Studies have shown that young mums supported by their partners feel more satisfied with their lives, have higher self-esteem, and are less likely to be stressed [3] [4] [5]. They are also likely to feel readier for parenthood. However, if you don’t have a partner, you needn’t despair. Research shows that single young parents who have good support from their parents and other family members can also report feeling more satisfied with their lives, and are less likely to be depressed or anxious [5]. Even if you don’t have support from your family, you can still feel the benefits of external support by connecting with other young parents or expectant parents through online forums. This kind of social support and parenting advice is also linked to stronger wellbeing [6], so it’s worth seeking support wherever you can get it. Relationship quality To protect against the breakdown of a relationship, it’s important to think about relationship quality. Evidence shows that the good bits of your relationship not only protect against breakup, but also help you feel more confident as a parent [1]. This is true even if your partner isn’t the child’s biological parent [5]. A positive relationship between you and your partner is also good for your child, as they are less likely to be exposed to conflict and stress [7] [8]. A strong sense of mutual love and attraction can often be enough to protect your relationship, but if you want to do something to make things stronger, consider upping your relationship equity. This means that you both make an equal contribution to the relationship. You can do this by sharing chores and childcare, but also by showing equal affection and support [9]. If your relationship breaks down, and you’re not getting the support you need from family and friends, you can try visiting the young parents section of the Family Lives website or posting a comment or question on Click to ask for tips and social support from other young parents. References [1] Gee, C. B., McNerney, C. M., Reiter, M. J., & Leaman, S. C. (2007). Adolescent and young adult mothers’ relationship quality during the transition to parenthood: Associations with father involvement in fragile families. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(2), 213-224. [2] Sipsma, H., Biello, K. B., Cole-Lewis, H., & Kershaw, T. (2010). Like father, like son: the intergenerational cycle of adolescent fatherhood. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 517-524. [3] Dhayanandhan, B., Bohr, Y., & Connolly, J. A. (2010). Understanding the link between developmental tasks and child abuse potential among adolescent mothers living below the poverty line. In Poster presented at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia PA. [4] Gee, C. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (1999). Postpartum transitions in adolescent mothers' romantic and maternal relationships. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 512-532. [5] Stevenson, W., Maton, K. I., & Teti, D. M. (1999). Social support, relationship quality, and well-being among pregnant adolescents. Journal of adolescence, 22(1), 109-121. [6] Sherman, L. E., & Greenfield, P. M. (2013). Forging friendship, soliciting support: A mixed-method examination of message boards for pregnant teens and teen mothers. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 75-85. [7] Cutrona, C. E., Hessling, R. M., Bacon, P. L., & Russell, D. W. (1998). Predictors and correlates of continuing involvement with the baby's father among adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(3), 369. [8] Hetherington, E. M., & Stanley-Hagan, M. M. (1997). The effects of divorce on fathers and their children. The role of the father in child development, 3, 191-211. [9] Kershaw, T., Murphy, A., Divney, A., Magriples, U., Niccolai, L., & Gordon, D. (2013). What's love got to do with it: Relationship functioning and mental and physical quality of life among pregnant adolescent couples. American journal of community psychology, 52(3-4), 288-301.
Article | parenting, young
0 4 min read
The father-child bond
Some dads fall in love with their babies as soon as they see them, but that isn’t everyone’s experience. If your baby seems like a stranger, you needn’t panic. Love at first sight is by no means common and, like all relationships, the bond between father and child takes time to develop. Lots of new dads feel under pressure to make all the right noises, but the reality of fatherhood can be different to your expectation. You may feel like a bit of a spare part too, particularly in the first few weeks when it seems to be all about mother and baby. Though it may be tough to admit to it, a little jealousy is completely natural too. Your bond with your child will grow as you spend more time together and get to know each other better. This will happen naturally over time but there are some things you can do to speed the process along. It may seem obvious, but try to keep in mind that you are dealing with another human being. Your baby has its own personality and moods, and that character will soon shine through. For many fathers, it doesn’t become clear how much personality babies are born with until the birth of their second child, and the revelation that they are not the same. So, how do you get to know a new born baby whose whole world seems to revolve around their mum? Here are some top tips: Give yourself some credit. Don’t be put off by the fact that most baby products and services are aimed at mothers. Be proud of the important role you play in your baby’s life. Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to feel. Becoming a dad is a shock to the system. Let yourself feel whatever you feel. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend; or, ask a professional like your health visitor, or someone from your local Children’s Centre. You could also make a post on Click, as there may be someone reading who has been through something similar to what you’re going through now. Take part in the baby’s routine. Get involved with feeding, burping, bathing, cuddling, carrying, changing nappies, and so on. Your involvement with the baby can just as significant as you make it, and this quality time will help you get to know each other. Be silly. Sing to your baby, and dance around to your favourite tunes. Invent games, and explore your inner child. You will soon learn what makes your baby smile, and when you do you won’t be able to stop. Smile at your baby. It sounds obvious but there is very little more rewarding than seeing your baby smiling toothlessly back at you. Hold your baby. Don’t shy away from physical contact. Having a warm baby sleep on your chest is a great way to relax. Cuddles and tickles help build bonds too.
Article | fathers, baby
0 3 min read
Parents with disabled children: managing your time
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Collection | disability
If you have any children with disabilities, you are likely to face some unique challenges in your relationship with your partner. One of those challenges will be managing your time together as a couple and as a family.
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Parents with disabled children: changing expectations
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Collection | disability
If you have any children with disabilities, you are likely to face some unique challenges in your relationship with your partner. Those challenges will include addressing your own expectations, and adapting together for the future.
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Parents with disabled children: handling stress
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Collection | disability
If you have any children with disabilities, you are likely to face some unique challenges in your relationship with your partner. Those challenges are likely to include increased stress levels.
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Money and work for new parents
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Collection | NP, parenting together, finance
If you're in the pregnancy phase, or if you've just had a child, you may be facing some unique relationship challenges. Some of those challenges will come from the changes to your financial circumstances, which can have a significant impact on your relationship.
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Parenting and relationship problems
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Collection | parenting together, new parents
If you're in the pregnancy phase, or if you've just had a child, you may be facing some unique relationship challenges. Everyone’s situation is different, but you may recognise some of these common issues that many new parents struggle with.
0 10 items