Category Archives: Secondary Attachments: Fathers, Grandparents & Other Loved Ones

For fathers, grandparents and other relatives, close family friends, childcare providers, teachers, and any other adult who serves as a significant attachment figure in a child’s life.

Tips for New Fathers in Bonding with Their Newborns

By Nancy Da Silva

The most important thing for new dads to remember is that they are not competing with moms for baby time or for the baby’s favor.

While bonding will happen more quickly between mothers and their infants, there are things dads can do to build their relationship with the new baby from day one:

  • Be tactile – Babies are comforted through the sense of touch. Pitching in during bath times, massaging the baby, and holding the baby against your chest will all succeed in fostering a warm, strong connection between the two of you.
  • Make eye contact – If you’ve been talking to the baby since he was still in the womb, he’ll be familiar with your voice. Holding him in your arms, so that you can look down at him while you speak and he can look up at you, will help him associate that voice with your face and make him feel safe and loved.
  • Share doctor duty – Taking over some of the doctor’s visits will not only earn you points with your wife or partner but will help you gain info on your baby’s overall health. It will give you the opportunity to help pitch in if the doctor offers any suggestions for any necessary treatments.
  • Share diaper duty – Parenting is a messy business, and while some fathers feel it is the mother’s responsibility to take care of the less enjoyable end of baby care, they’re missing out. A crying, uncomfortable baby who is soothed by a clean diaper and clean clothes will associate that soothing, comfortable feeling with you. Bonding with your child takes work, and in this case, you’ve got to just jump in and get your hands dirty. The baby will benefit, and so will you.
  • Sing – Music is the universal calmer. If you want to bond with your child, hold her close and sing them a lullaby while rocking them, or look down at them in the crib and sing to your heart’s content. When the baby is stressed, he’ll associate you, along with his mother, as someone who will make him feel better.
  • Schedule some Daddy time – Despite the fact that the new mother will be suffering from sleep deprivation, you might find some opposition when you put forth the initial idea for some alone time with the new baby. Mothers may feel uneasy with passing them off to someone else, even if it’s just for a few hours, even if it’s you. This is why pitching in with little tasks is so important. It shows the nervous mother that she can trust you to know what you’re doing. Respect her nervousness, but assure her that the two of you will make an even better team if you can share parenting responsibilities and that giving her some free time will be beneficial for both of you. You can get to know your baby and your baby can get to know you, so that if Mommy needs a break, you can take over with minimal fuss on the part of the child.

Long-Distance Grandparenting

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

For many people, grandparenting comes as easy as the love they felt for their own children.

But not all grandparents live close enough to visit their grandchildren frequently, often thought of as a key to developing a strong emotional bond. Furthermore, some grandchildren, or their parents, have very full schedules that can make visits by even nearby grandparents challenging. Here are some tips adapted for grandparents wanting to stay in touch with their grandchildren:

  • Visit regularly, if not often – Visiting your grandchildren doesn’t have to be frequent, as long as it’s meaningful. Have a good time with your grandchildren when you visit them or when they come for visits. Help them to look forward to the next visit by planning a loose schedule with their parents.
  • Stay in touch between visits – Use the phone, e-mail, and letters through the postal mail to provide a personal way to stay in touch with grandchildren between visits. Send photos and cards.
  • Show your grandchildren how much you miss them – Put photos of your grandchildren in frames on the shelf or on the fridge. Make a special photo album of special times spent with your grandchildren, and allow your grandchildren to flip through it when they visit.
  • Share a hobby, teach a skill – When your grandchildren visit, engage them in helping your with chores or get them started with one of your hobbies. Help them make a craft they can take home. When you call them next or send a letter, you can ask them about what they learned or thank them for their help around the house.
  • Chart a family tree – Tell your grandchildren stories about their relatives, especially their parents. Tell them about their ancestors and their heritage. Help them to create a family tree or scrapbook.

Stay-at-Home Parenting Not Just for Moms

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Perhaps you and your spouse have decided that stay-at-home parenting is valuable for your family, and you’re trying to decide who, between you, is the best fit for the job. According to’s Dawn Rosenberg McKay her article “Stay-at-Home Dads,” there are several factors that need to be considered:

  • Which parent earns more money?
  • Which parent has the better health insurance policy?
  • Which parent stands to lose more by taking time off from his or her career?
  • Can either parent switch to part time or a more flexible schedule?
  • Can either parent work from home?

Don’t be surprised if the better fit is Dad. Today, more than ever, more fathers are choosing to forgo their breadwinner roles to embrace the homemaking, child-rearing tasks of the stay-at-home parent. The tide is changing: At one time, not too long ago, “Mr. Mom” was said in jest about a father who had to stay at home with his children, even for a short period of time; today, it’s considered an offensive label put on men who freely choose this family role.

According to the latest U.S. Census report, 143,000 of the 5.4 million stay-at-home parents nationwide are men. A slight proportion compared to women, but the number of stay-at-home fathers is growing. There are now enough stay-at-home dads out there to warrant support groups or father-only playgroups in some local areas, such as Seattle Stay-at-Home Dads and At Home Dads of Greater Dallas; and websites devoted to stay-at-home dads are populating the Internet, such as,, and