New Parents!

Rev. Deb Koster

April 3, 2007

When a new baby enters your house, joy, chaos, and sleepless nights tend to follow. We all come to parenthood with anxieties about how to face the task of parenting. Will we bond with our child? Will we be a good parent? Will we mess things up? Many parents struggle with knowing if their new baby should be picked up and comforted every time he cries, or whether it’s good to let the baby to cry it out sometimes. All of this uncertainty can cause conflict in the house, especially if the parents take different approaches to parenting.

Unfortunately, Scripture doesn’t tell us how to handle all the minute-by-minute issues of parenting and kids don’t come with a guidebook. Psalm 103:13 says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him." We are made in the image of our compassionate God and we follow his lead of demonstrating love in all of our relationships. This is true in all the relationships that God has given to us, we should let love be the guide. Whether that is in-laws, parents, spouse, or infant, love should characterize each interaction.

To make sure that the arrival of a new baby doesn’t cause significant tension with your spouse, make sure to talk about concerns and find strategies with which you both can agree. How much should the in-laws visit? How will you manage outside commitments? How will you navigate household chores? Life with a newborn will involve re-prioritizing commitments. Hobbies and outside relationships may need to take a back seat for a time. Life may seem quite different so how can you find the best way to parent?

There is no perfect way to parent. God chose you for the job and he will equip you for the task. Recognize that we all parent out of past experiences and that every approach will be different. If a wife felt neglected by her parents, she may be adamant about picking up the baby every time he cries. A husband on the other hand, may think that it’s all right to let the baby cry at times to avoid spoiling, especially if that was the way his parents raised him. We will never parent in exactly the same way as our spouse, but it’s important to communicate with each other and understand each other. Establish the habit of keeping a united front so you can navigate the challenges of parenting as a team.

The most important thing to learn when taking a new baby home is finding balance. The house can feel completely off balance when the baby comes home for the first time. Sleep is disrupted causing exhausted parents to stumble through the new experience with less than ideal capacity for reasoning. You are in completely uncharted territory and the landscape changes daily. What soothed the baby yesterday may not work today. The nap routine may be completely discarded by a sick infant or an unbending schedule. So how can you navigate life with a newborn?

  • Talk about your feelings. Discuss what boundaries you can set up to ensure that your spouse does not experience feelings of neglect with the arrival of a new baby.
  • Lower your standards. Perfectionism does not belong in the house with a newborn. Life does not need to be perfect to be enjoyed.
  • Ask for help. Everyone loves a chance to care for a new baby, let them help. An occasional baby sitter and a date night can rejuvenate your marriage!
  • Work as a team. Tag team parenting can allow each spouse a chance to rest and recharge.
  • Be kind to yourself. It is never easy to give so unconditionally and sometimes you just need a shower. If you don't care for yourself you will have little to give to your family.
  • Cut your spouse some slack. They are new at this too and need your support. Remember that you are on the same team and they might be your one hope of getting rest!
  • Keep perspective. Life with a newborn does not last for ever. They eventually sleep through the night and even let you rest now and again.
  • Rely on God. There may not be time for lengthy devotions, but prayer can always be on our breath. God will equip you for the challenges that you face.
  • Focus on the joy. There are so many lovely moments that you might miss if you are focused only on the challenges.

New Infants take a lot of time and energy, but they also bring much joy. It is easier to find the joys when you are working together. Psalm 127:3 states, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."

About the author — Rev. Deb Koster

Deb Koster is a producer, writer, and speaker for Family Fire. She is also an Innkeeper at The Parsonage Inn in Grand Rapids, MI where she leads marriage retreat on weekends. After over 20 years as a Registered Nurse, she completed a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Deb and her husband Steven enjoy doing ministry together and they are the parents of three awesome young adults.

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