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Focus on Fathers

A Family Responsibility

By David Cockrell
Odessa TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 4, July-August 2005, p. 160

I come from a family of five brothers and six sisters, all of whom were breastfed. So, when we had our first child, I knew the importance of breastfeeding because I had seen my mother nurse my siblings. I didn't know all of the aspects, but I was determined to help my wife, Dawn, in any way that I could. After I did some research, La Leche League seemed to be the best at supporting and advocating for breastfeeding families. Sure enough, LLL gave us the information and support that we needed for all of our children.

Eventually, Dawn decided to become an LLL Leader and a licensed midwife. I wanted to be available to support her through her training, so I decided to start running our contract cleaning business from home. It had taken several years for the business to become solvent and even longer to have adequate income, but it was getting busy enough to hire several employees to fill in as needed. It was difficult at first because finances were limited. Despite the struggle, however, I knew that breastfeeding was the absolute best thing for my children.

Now that Dawn is a licensed midwife, she is able to supplement our income significantly. It is still a challenge balancing the needs of our family, work, and each other, but careful planning and forethought help make life as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Since we run both of our businesses from home, we are available to our children. Dawn and I alternate times when we must get work done without interruption. The important thing is setting priorities in order to meet the needs of our family.

Our religious belief system is very important to us. It includes attending to the physical, emotional, and educational needs of each family member as well as their spiritual needs. As parents, we put forth a united front, which requires private consultation and agreement. Our older children are a beneficial asset in helping with our younger children, but we are careful not to assign them too much too soon. While Dawn breastfeeds, the older children help to make routine family activities fun. We have found that the more our family does things together, the stronger our bond continues to become.

It is typical in our culture to view breastfeeding as the sole responsibility of the mother. However, if breastfeeding is viewed as a family responsibility it becomes more joyful for the mother and baby, as well as the whole family. I made a determined effort to plan my work so that I could be available to meet the needs of my wife and family, even on short notice. After I was able to adjust my work responsibilities to have more flexibility, it became much more rewarding. Being self-employed can be stressful and consuming, so I find it important to give ourselves permission to slow down when we need to in order to take care of our health and our family responsibilities.

The most rewarding part of my wife breastfeeding our children is knowing they are much healthier, physically and psychologically. Watching them grow rapidly and thrive in life and in their relationships with their mother and me is a joy. I firmly believe that human milk has directly maximized the potential for us to have happy, healthy children.

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