Prior to becoming a parent, I used to secretly, critically judge parents who hired nanny’s to help with raising their children. I suspected they were lazy, and lacked the sacrificial capacity to be there with their children during the tough work, and the mundane day-to-day. I was an idiot. Really, please forgive me. That was the self-righteous, judgmental part of me that has been rudely awakened to the difficult reality of what is involved in parenting. I’ve learned that it’s hard to be a judgmental and self-righteous uber-parent when you’re sleep deprived with a crying infant – just begging for a little rest and reprieve from your demanding child. After several months of holding-out on hiring someone, I have been graciously humbled by my little son and his demands on my time, mental energy, and emotional deprivation. We hired a nanny.
We’ve hired a Nanny!
Technically, she’s called a “Mother’s Helper”, which is just code for “we can’t afford a full-time nanny”, but either way, we’ve found someone to help us with Levi. This was an incredibly hard decision for my wife and I. Both of us, therapists (we know it all) and stubborn (we realize we don’t know it all, but pretend to) wanted desperately to hold on to the fantasy that we could do this all by ourselves. We didn’t need any help! We waited, exhausted ourselves, became temporally insane from sleep deprivation, then decided we needed help. Asking for help with raising our son brought to the surface a couple feelings: (none of them positive):
I feel guilty: I feel like I’m being a “less-than” Dad by having someone other than myself or my wife participate in the caretaking of our child. I think I have a deep fear that someday, Levi will end up in therapy taking about how bad his Dad was.
I feel inadequate: After all, shouldn’t I be able to do this? It’s not even like I have a litter of children. I have one! I feel that a real Dad couldn’t manage all the burdens and challenges of parenting much better. I shouldn’t feel this tired.
We live in a chronically independent, Western culture that has taught us that asking for help is bad. We’re left feeling vulnerable, weak, and less-than when we acknowledge our own neediness and admit to ourselves and others that we don’t have it all together like we thought we did. We live in unprecedented times as human species. Never before have we lived such isolative, independent lives free from the help of village members, family supports, and community connectedness. My wife and I have been attempting to raise a child by ourselves, which, but most cultures even today around the world would regard as crazy. Nearly every society around the world today places a very high importance on utilizing grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, village members etc., for raising children. But we’re American’s – we don’t need anyone! Or do we? I’m learning to depend on our nanny and realizing that we never really accomplish anything by ourselves.
Quentin Hafner, LMFT
**If you, or a Dad you know would like to meet with other like-minded Dad’s and Husbands in an extremely life-changing and powerful way, please shoot me an email! I am currently forming a new group therapy in my Mission Viejo office called “Better Dad’s and Better Husband’s.”
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