Peter Stringfellow - Parenting Guru! August 02 2013
Today I had a 'car park' moment with Peter Stringfellow!
I love this phrase - a colleague used it the other day - it means when you're listening to the radio and something is so interesting you have to keep listening even though you've arrived at your destination.
Peter became a Dad for the third time yesterday morning at the age of 72! He had a little girl - his first child in 48 years! When I heard that he was about to be interviewed on the Jeremy Vine BBC Radio 2 show I thought - 'OK, now this I've GOT to hear!
But guess what, I was genuinely touched and humbled by the absolute torrent of love and excitement that I could feeling oozing out of the radio at me. Here was a man still 'high' on the adrenaline of a new baby and the oxytocin (or cuddle chemical as its known) that mums and Dads get from cuddling their baby.
He was so taken with his new arrival that he fell into the adorable trap that all new parents do of sharing the minutiae of baby's every movement and dirty nappy! I chuckled to myself fondly as he could be heard whipping out his iphone live on air and playing a video recording of his daughter doing her first hiccup! And yes the hiccups were very audible and very cute!
In the background of the recording we could hear mum's voice saying 'here's her first hiccups outside of mummy's tummy - I used to feel her doing this inside!' A wonderful example right there of the relationship that parents build with their baby even before they're born. Mum was recognising an activity that had happened inside her and was relating it to life on the outside.
Much like the way babies will turn to their parents voice shortly after birth to put a face to the voice they've been hearing in the womb since 24 weeks. Or how they will relax and calm down to a familiar piece of music they remember hearing when inside the womb. The outside world of parents and the internal world of babes in the womb have an interplay with each other throughout pregnancy - birth is a continuity of a relationship that has already been struck up - not the beginning!
Peter's genuine adoration and enthusiasm for his new baby, regardless of his age, was what shone through. This could have been any new Dad, anywhere in the world talking - not a septuagenarian nightclub owner! This is the universal magic of a Dad's bond with his new baby. What a lucky little girl she is to have a devoted Dad ready and willing to be hands on (he vigorously denied the rumour that he had a team of nannies on hand!). The research on Dads and parenting tells us overwhelmingly that children who have Dads who are emotionally available as well as practically involved benefit cognitively and emotionally- we explain this more in our Dad's video.
Peter gives us a valuable insight into how the world of fathers and parenting has changed for the better in more recent years. He recalls that he was in a casino for the birth of his first child 50-ish years ago and in the room next door to the birth for his second child. This time he was slap bang next to his wife holding her hand and calming her down.
Using a phrase I heard from fellow blogger Birthing4Blokes, Peter was now not so much a nightclub bouncer as a 'birth bouncer'. Protecting the area where his wife was to give birth by C-section and calming her down so that she could allow the process to take place, and be relaxed enough to give the baby the welcome she deserved.
What a positive role model for all Dads out there! Attending the birth and taking as active a part as possible gives dads a great chance to continue the bonding process alongside mum (after all, it starts way before birth). As he says - things have changed now and I think he's completely right. Society's encouragement to Dads to take an active role in parenting is slowly but surely becoming more mainstream (you only have to check out the amount of dad bloggers out there giving those fierce mummy bloggers a run for their money!)
I was genuinely happy to hear Peter's news because you couldn't feel anything but happiness when you listened to him. Of course he was very pragmatic about the issue of his age when questioned on this. His theory on this appears to be 'Well, I'm here now' and it sounds as though he's going to make the most of every minute. Just as he should.
And so the only question I have left is whether I should send Peter our Dads video or our Grandparents video?
Actually I think he's already doing pretty well without my twopenny's worth!
I dare you not to smile when you listen to this!