The good father: childbirth turns your bride into a mother...

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When I speak with fathers whose wives are pregnant with their firstborn, I warn them the birth of their child will be an adjustment and they may feel a wee bit jealous of their newborn son or daughter. "It's normal," I tell them. "Your bride is about to become a mother, and after your child is born your relationship with your wife will change. She will no longer be your bride and lover. She will have become your child's mother and you will be relegated to a distant second place in her priorities." (Yeah, I'm overstating it, but work with me here.)

From the moment your newborn infant is placed in your wife's arms and begins to nurse, that child will own her, body and soul. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of her as merely a "parent." She is now a mother. Other than a fool caught in his folly, there's no more cosmic force on earth...

Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly. (Proverbs 17:12)

Given the abandonment of male and female in our culture, we fall into the habit of thinking in gender-neutral terms. We've been taught to minimize the significance of male and female, so we can miss the differences between a father and a mother. As a new father, though, you'd best study them carefully because how you and your wife live out these differences will determine the contentment of your household and the wisdom and godliness of your sons and daughters as they leave your home to make one of their own.

When your wife presents you with your firstborn child, look at his mother and examine her carefully. Do you remember what she was doing a few minutes ago? You remember her tears? Her cries? Her agony? You remember how close she and the baby were to death? A Roman poet put it this way: "the wailing of the newborn infant is mingled with the dirge for the dead."

But now, just moments after your newborn cried and gasped his first breath, look at your wife. Her pain is gone and she radiates joy:

Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21)

Of course the joy is for the child. Woman’s desire for a child starts young. Back in our old feminist days, my wife and I were friends with a couple who were determined to raise their daughter liberated from what they disdained as ignorant and repressive sexual stereotypes. They gave their daughter Tonka trucks and a toy rifle, so imagine how disheartened they were to find their daughter walking around the house with her rifle wrapped in a small blanket, cuddled in her arms.

Growing into fatherhood requires you to love motherhood. Let me leave you with this least-preached of all Scripture texts in the New Testament:

Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:15)

Here God's Holy Spirit teaches us that the bearing of children that turns your wife into a mother is part of the way God saves this woman who is so precious to you. You remember the Apostle Paul describing Christ's love for His Bride? He says Christ gave Himself up for the Church "so that He might sanctify her" (Ephesians 5:26).

Your own giving of yourself to your wife in love has been blessed by God with the fruit of the womb, and now you will watch the Holy Spirit sanctifying your wife through childbearing. Through blessed motherhood!

You're a father. She's a mother. Learn it well.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!