Tips For First-Time Parents

First-Time Mom Kevin Leman
Tyndale House Publishers
Many first-time parents probably wish their child came with an owner's manual.

While that might be impossible, parents can turn to the new book, "First-Time Mom," for answers to all of their questions.

Psychologist Kevin Leman wrote the book, which is one of 20 on family and parenting. He is best known for his work on birth order. On Monday he tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm his advice for first- time parents.

Leman points out that first-time parents tend to read every parenting book they can find, scour stores for products their newborn can't live without, and insist that anyone who might touch the baby, first wash with antibacterial soap. New parents need to realize that they know more than they think. Don't focus on being the best mom. Focus on being a good mom, Leman says.

Remember that a baby develops over a number of years, not a number of days. So relax and enjoy falling in love with your newest family member.

Dads Play Essential Role
Although this book is titled "First-Time Moms," Leman aims some words of wisdom straight at dad. Basically, he tells men to be their wives' "ace relievers." First-time moms, in particular, need their husbands to help shoulder the weight of caring for a newborn.

"How do you do that? It's all about the little things, guys," Leman writes. "Call home when you're at the store and ask your wife, "Is there anything you need?" Take your wife out, but make sure you call and get the baby-sitter. Don't make her do all the planning for your nights out. Clean up the kitchen so your wife won't even be tempted to do it. Take care of the laundry. Make the bed. Try to think of all the little things your wife does that you have previously taken for granted."

Recognize Traits Of Firstborns
Firstborns are the children who can't stand to have an itchy tag in their T-shirt, who don't want their pancakes touching their syrup, who always need to know exactly what time it is. "Around noon" doesn't cut it for a first-born.

"The extra attention a firstborn receives gives him a "performer's" mentality," Leman writes. "He learns early on that he's there to meet expectations. This has the negative effect of creating some anxiety but the positive effects of making him really want to please you by being outstanding. Consequently, he'll wear responsibility and leadership like a pair of comfortable slippers."

Don't Be Too Critical
Because firstborns are programmed to achieve, it's important to not be too critical of these kids. Unfortunately, first-time parents tend to have an overly critical eye. Because you've never raised a child before, your tendency is going to be to try and raise the "perfect" child, Leman writes. As a result, you are likely to bury your child under high expectations. You don't always cook the perfect meal or perfectly slide your car into a parking space - you settle for "good enough." Why not do this with your kids? Leman writes that when parents ask a firstborn to "jump through hoops," it's like "pouring gasoline on an already out-of-control fire."

One more note on this subject: Men have a tendency to be too hard and too critical on firstborn sons. Both parents should be aware of this fact.

Tell Your Child No
Leman also tells new parents to give their child a good dose of Vitamin N: "Vitamin N stands for No -- not just the word but the concept. First-time parents fall into the trap of thinking that they can make their child happier and better adjusted by what they give to their child and the experiences they provide for the child.

"Not giving your kids things is very important. Too often giving our children things becomes a substitute for being their parents. We haven't spent enough time at home, so we try to make up for it by taking our kids to Disneyland - which doesn't really give us time together as much as it diverts us from the real world."

Leman says parents believe they must meet every emotional (and oftentimes material) need of their child. Well, the pressure is off because this isn't the case. As a matter of fact, Leman believes that children must learn how to handle denial and work through disappointment. He puts it this way: An unhappy child is a healthy child.

Birth Order Effects Parenting Style
Parents should realize that their birth order directly impacts their parenting style. If you are a firstborn yourself, preparing to have your first baby, know that some challenges lie ahead.

"The child that is of your own birth order is, in all probability, the child you're most likely to bang heads with," Leman writes. "And since firstborns like to be in charge - and only one person can be in charge - firstborn on firstborn tends to be the most toxic mix."

Lastborns are a lot of fun to be around. They love to have a good time and they thrive on spontaneity. However, when raising a firstborn child, lastborns may need to get their lives on a stricter schedule.

"Listen up, all you lastborns: Babies need structure, and firstborn babies in particular," Leman writes. "We can't hide behind our birth order on this one. We're going to have to grow up a bit to be a good parent."

Here's good news for parents who are middle children: "You probably already have just about the right disposition to raise a firstborn. You're less intense than most firstborns, but a tad bit more responsible than the lastborns," he writes.