MOMS WHO HAVE THE BABY JITTERS



Although I personally have never given birth to a baby, I have “heard” that it is not an easy task.  At least that’s what my wife tells me, and I don’t question her assessment for a moment!  It is a profoundly difficult event for a mother.
 
After the baby is born, how does a mother navigate the equally difficult task of parenting her new child?  Even for those of us who have studied child development, or the art of parenting, what plan of action is necessary to make sure that a child is nurtured and cared for without undue anxiousness and stress on the part of the mother?
 
Often, a mother who is anxious about parenting will over-function by be overly-protective.  A mother who lacks confidence will display her tentativeness with her baby in many ways.  A mother may withhold the baby from other children, adults, and social situations outside of the home.  Withholding the child from other potential caretakers, such as relatives, day-care programs, and friends may also pose a problem.  Often, a mother may over-react to a baby’s symptoms or illnesses through repeated visits to the doctor’s office.  Another potential problem may be protecting the baby from exploring his environment and developing natural curiosity.  The jitters may show when a mother is excessively reactive to her child if the baby cries or sustains a minor injury.  A tentative mother may be afraid to establish logical consequences for a toddler when she misbehaves.  Being overly-emotionally attached to the baby or displaying the opposite pattern of detachment can create problems.  There are also those mothers who avoid delegating responsibilities to significant others.  There may be the jitters about the perception “that others can’t manage my child as well as I can.”
 
Most of these problems can be alleviated if you have appropriate support.  For example:
 
  • How much emotional and practical support do you receive from your partner?  Telling your partner (if you have one) what you need and want from him in terms of caretaking is important.
  • Are you giving yourself time for your own personal needs, interests and desires apart from your baby?  Carving out time for yourself is important to maintaining a strong sense of self and rejuvenating your emotional battery.
  • Do you lean on parents, friends, or neighbors to assist you in the parenting of your child?
  • Do you have a quality pediatrician who will answer your questions and return your calls without making you feel neurotic?  The choice of doctors is important in making you and your baby feel secure.
 
It is not unusual that I find a process of triangulation established when a baby becomes the buffer for a couple’s relationship that is strained.  This unnecessary stress may cause a mother to cling co-dependently to her child in order to get her needs met.  This pattern is unhealthy for the entire family.  I recommend couples counseling in order to promote relationship harmony and unlock partners from this damaging interactional pattern.
 
The concept that “it takes a village to raise a child” is not far from the truth.  Young children need the support of the entire family community.  If the family is broken due to strained relationships, fix it for the well-being of your baby.  You and your child will need parenting, nurturing, coaching, encouragement, and a host of mentors along the path of your child’s development.  There is no need to have the parental jitters if you can utilize all the resources of the village.
 
 
James P. Krehbiel is an author, contributing writer, and cognitive-behavioral therapist.  Sample chapters of his book, Stepping Out of the Bubble:  Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Counseling Therapy are available at http://www.booklocker.com/pdf/2242s.pdf.  He can be reached through http://www.krehbielcounseling.com.


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