Can We Stop Strapping Pregnancy Bellies On Dads?
There’s a lot to like about the word empathy, which of course, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Empathy is important. It’s important to place ourselves in another’s position to better understand someone. As for me personally, I like to think I’m regularly aware of how my wife and our children feel, which helps me to put them first in every decision I make.
But there is one facet of the pregnancy world that seems to be a little imbalanced nowadays – and that’s the strong interest in strapping dads with pregnancy bands or suits (sometimes called “empathy bellies”) that help them to better understand what their pregnant wives are going through.
I completely understand the why behind all this, because it’s a well-intentioned matter. It’s attempting to put a dad into mom’s shoes – if even for a brief moment – and helps him better understand what she’s going through during these nine months.
But it needs to stop – or at least change.
Some things in life can’t be simulated. No matter how advanced the empathy belly may be, a dad will never know what it’s like to be pregnant. Conversely, a mom will never know what it’s like to be a man. The reality is that men and women are biologically different. To ask a man to understand what this physical phenomenon feels like is unfair and unrealistic.
The best way a woman can invite her husband to empathize with her is to show empathy for the many emotions he's feeling about being a dad.
Otherwise, this whole practice seems rather one-sided. No, he’s not carrying a baby and his body won’t undergo any changes, but the empathy seems to be lost when it comes to him. That’s because dad, too, is experiencing a lot during this time.
Hold on for a moment – hear me out. I’m not comparing or saying what dad is going through is equivalent to mom and pregnancy. On the contrary, I’m acknowledging it’s vastly different, but dad deserves some empathy.
Think about what he goes through. He has to work long hours to help provide for the family. He still tends to the home and repairs things when they break. And frankly, a lot of men don’t think they’re needed during the pregnancy and end up feeling left out.
Then when the baby’s born, he rarely gets time off from work and isn’t afforded the same amount of time to bond with the baby as the mom does. He has to say goodbye to this new child every day and leave, rather than see it grow and experience its new developments all day long.
I’ve yet to witness some device or experiment involving a mom that simulates what a dad goes through during pregnancy and beyond. No one makes her miss the birth – as some men are forced to do either through work or medical order. No one makes mom feel left out by throwing a party strictly for dad and leaving her on the sidelines.
But I would never advocate for that equal-time nonsense. Rather, instead of fastening a dad with some belly apparatus that seems to do nothing more than let spouses exclaim, “See, told you so,” I think we’d all do better if we just recognize and honor our differences while celebrating what each parent brings to the entire pregnancy and raising of a child.
There are some physical things only a mom can do, and there are some physical things only a dad can do. Let’s honor that, and find empathy in our relationships emotionally.