A colleague of mine, who is a brand new father, shared with me his frustrations that he hasn’t been able to get any sleep since his newborn arrived a few weeks ago. He said his wife is struggling with breastfeeding, and maybe in general to being a new mom, and he’s at a loss to help her feel better. He asked me if I had any ideas of what to say to her, besides offering resources for breastfeeding coaching, which they are already doing. My friend stopped shuffling his papers on his desk, hanging on any word I might offer to ease the situation for his wife and allow him to catch a few more Zzzzzs, too. I stopped for a moment to recycle my thoughts about my own breastfeeding and new mom experiences years ago. Like some women, I remember very well trying to find my way, wanting to give up at times, so I could easily relate to the feelings his wife might be going through.
And naturally, since breastfeeding is really the first shared meal that a baby experiences, I really wanted to help!
I was genuinely stumped for a few minutes, wondering if anything this mother of now fully grown adults might advise that might make a difference. As I turned to leave my friend’s office promising to think about it further on my own, I remembered the 4 words that is music to my ears when I’m feeling alone and struggling. I spun back on my heels, turned to my friend and cheerfully offered he say these simple words to his wife:
I said, “Just put your arms around her and say, ‘How Can I Help?’….and then just sit quietly.”
We talked about how new mothers are quite often way too hard on themselves trying to be perfect for their newborns, while valiantly navigating their incredibly important new Mom role. Sometimes all new moms want is to know someone is there who really gets it, who isn’t trying to create an instant fix, but is standing by, ready to help.
It’s a helpful reminder that all of us, in practically any situation we’re stuck on, can offer these 4 little words, this one simple phrase, to try to ease someone’s burden. And of course, taking action, if there is something you can do.
My advice to anyone feeling stuck on how to help someone, regardless of the situation, always start with, “How Can I Help?”
It’s a genuine and simple way to show someone you are standing by, and can help you both break into a larger conversation of support.
A very special Father’s day to all you caring and loving dads!
There are many ways fathers can help with shared meals in their homes. Look for an upcoming blog on this topic soon! In the meantime, feel free to explore the media gallery of articles on my website for ideas on how to collaborate and strengthen your shared meals.