There are many important transitions in life. One of the most
exciting of these is the addition of a child to a family. Whether it is
through birth or adoption, changing from a couple to a family is a great
Usually there has been a lot of planning and imagining going on, as
prospective parents try to envision their lives as a family of three.
Then, one day it happens. The child is here and suddenly their world has
been made different forever. Typically, relatives and
friends are all eager to see the new little one, to embrace her or him
into their lives and hearts. Often there is celebration with gifts and
Eventually, the parade of people hurrying to see the “newest
addition” will slow down, and the parents will at last be alone with
their long-awaited child. For many, this is a magical moment. Sometimes,
though, questions and doubts arise: Can I handle the responsibility of
raising a child? Will I know what to do when new things come up? Will we
still have time and energy to be a couple, now that our child is here?
These and many more questions and wonderings often run through new
parents’ minds. The questions range from the practical and concrete,
“how do you give a baby a bath or get a colicky baby to sleep?”, to the
more emotional, "will I be an adequate parent?" "Can I handle the changes
ahead?" "Will we be able to work together as parents in making decisions?”
Everyone who becomes a parent discovers unexpected aspects of
parenting that they couldn’t foresee. Many of them are the precious
bonding moments with the child, when their hearts feel filled with love
and joy as they watch their child growing and discovering the world.
But sometimes, the unexpected comes in a less desirable form. Some
mothers experience post-partum depression. Fathers often feel
left out as their partner spends more time with the infant.
Some new parents find themselves caught between trying to follow their
own ideas about child-raising and pressure from others to do it
differently. Sometimes stress and tension mounts between the parents,
as they encounter sleepless nights, less time to do the things they used
to do, financial concerns or other matters. This is the tough part of
becoming a parent.
While these stresses usually get worked out eventually, there are
times when seeking outside help is a good idea. If a new mother is
experiencing post-partum depression, she needs immediate help. (First
she should contact her doctor.) If tensions arising in a couple around
this time seem to continue instead of resolving, that is also a good
time to seek assistance. Psychotherapy can help with adjustments during
family transitions such as this. It can help a couple find ways to lower
the stresses and settle confidently into parenthood while remaining close to each other.
Copyright 2007 Kathi Whitten, LCSW