With this new series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.) And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.
This week I’m doing something a bit different again. A topic came up that fits this series well, though it’s not a question my husband put to me as usual. If anything, it’s sort of a question I had for him, but it’s not one he can answer. So, I’m raising the subject myself. There are things I have to say on the matter, but I also welcome feedback and invite discussion in the comments.
Is It Weird for Dads to Bathe With Their Babies?
When our daughter was very young, I loved nothing more than to get in the bath with her. I’d strip her off and hold her against my chest, and my hubby and I would marvel at how tiny she was. I’d look in the mirror and be in awe of how perfectly she would fit in the hollow between my breasts, her little head laid against my sternum and her legs splayed across my middle. Even then, her bottom was divine peachiness.
Any parent who has held their newborn, naked and tucked up under their chin, will know this wonder and deliciousness.
We have a few treasured photos of these exquisite occasions: special, private memories just for us, captured from those beautifully novel days.
Of course, it was only natural for me to suggest my husband may enjoy taking part, rather than simply being the photographer/a bystander (I wouldn’t attempt this without him for fear of dropping Pixie when entering or exiting the water!).
But on each of the many times I asked him, he declined.
And I still find it overwhelmingly sad that he missed out on this precious rite of passage. Not least because of his reason.
If you’ve not already guessed, my husband chose to forgo these lovely bonding moments with his baby girl because of perceived connotations. The prevalence of child abuse in our society gave rise to him deeming it inappropriate; or made him uncomfortable at least.
- “Is It Ever Okay to Lie to Your Child?”
- “How Can I Be Our Daughter’s Hero?”
- “How Can We Teach Our Children to Respect Sexual Boundaries?”
I am still incredibly wistful, for his sake, of the magic he didn’t get to share in the same way I did. Sure, he cooed over her perfect naked form with me, and took his turn holding her little body on his own chest. He was very up for indulging in skin to skin in those first weeks too.
He just wouldn’t share a bath with her.
In the privacy of our own home, away from prying eyes and judgements – still he felt it wasn’t right.
So, Is It Wrong for Dads to Bathe With Their Babies?
Child abuse is an abhorrent scourge on humanity, of course it is. But am I alone in feeling that this level of permeation is robbing some overly-sensitive fathers of one of the most cherishable experiences they could share with their child?
Don’t they have just as much right as us mums to rejoice in the profound beauty of their newborn’s nakedness, and immerse themselves in that moving experience? Why should they stop short of taking their adored baby into the tub? What difference does it make?
For me, there’s actually an irony to this tragedy: in avoiding the merest suggestion of wrongdoing, the innocence is removed from an otherwise pure intention.
Further, those doting fathers who prove no threat are some of the very ones forfeiting a privilege of parenthood – in the name of wicked, immoral monsters.
What a great pity that is.
Dads, do you/have you/would you share a bath with your newborn? At what age does it become inappropriate? And mums, have your husbands/partners also shown reluctance?
Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.