My Baby Doesn’t Like Me

Dear Mr. Dad: My two-month-old baby doesn’t like me. He’s perfectly content with my wife, but when I try to hold him, he gets upset and cries. I’ve backed off a little, thinking that he just needs a little time to get used to me, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I’m starting to think I’m just not a very good dad. Is it too late for me to build a relationship with my baby?

A: There’s not much in this world that can make a grown up man feel more incompetent than a baby can. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to get past those feelings—and no, it’s not too late. Not even close.

Before we get into the what-to-do part, we need to do something about the way you’re thinking. First, get the idea that your baby doesn’t like you or that he thinks you’re a bad father out of your head. Do you really believe that someone who’s a few months old is qualified to make a judgment about your parenting skills? What other dads could he possibly be comparing you to?
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The Story of Your Life Is Your Legacy

Dear Mr. Dad: My father died when he was 48. He was a great dad, affectionate, playful, and a fine role model. And he had life insurance so the family was provided for. But when my brother and sister and I were going through his stuff after the funeral, we realized that we barely knew him. He was always interested in our lives, but almost never told us anything about his own—the things he did as a kid, what he liked, or anything. I’m 47 now—just a year younger than my dad’s age when he died—and I’m very involved in my children’s life. But I don’t want to make the same mistake my father did. How can I be sure my kids will know me after I’m gone?

A: Although both of my parents are, thankfully, still alive, I’ve been thinking about this exact thing for quite some time, and I know we’re not the only ones. As parents (and especially as dads), when we talk about providing for our children, the discussions tend to focus on the financial—insurance, college savings, and so on—and we overlook the kind of intangibles you mentioned. But giving our children the knowledge of who we are, our life experiences, our triumphs, our failures, our family history, and our personal philosophy is a gift that’s just as important as money. Maybe even more so.

Just think of all the knowledge we have about our kids: We know how much they weighed when they were born, when they rolled over, when they took their first steps, the name of their favorite stuffie, who their friends are, what size shoes they wear, whether they wet the bed or not, who their favorite—and least favorite—teachers are, what they like to read, the trouble they got into, and the story behind every scar—real or imagined.

But how much do our kids know about us? Probably not a whole lot. And that’s a mistake. By not telling them about ourselves—where we came from and how we became who we are—we’re doing them a tremendous disservice. At the very least, our stories can bring us closer together. Stories let them know that we’re not just lecturing them about life, that we’ve actually lived it, that we’ve had experiences that are similar to theirs, and that we really understand them.

Just to be clear, this is not about teachable moments or being a good role model. There’s definitely a place for both, but this isn’t it. This is simply about introducing our inner selves to our children. The first step towards that goal is to remind ourselves of our stories. What was life like when you were growing up? What were your earliest memories? What were your favorite subjects in school? How did it feel when your first romantic relationship ended?

Kids absolutely love these stories—especially the ones where you’re less than perfect. Mine, for example, still enjoy hearing about when I got caught shoplifting in 3rd grade, the many times I got my butt paddled in the principal’s office as punishment for a variety of misdeeds, or when I tried to force-feed a pet sand dollar ground beef because someone had told me it needed protein.

Write down as many of your stories as you can think of. You might even want to start a blog. And remember, it’s not always about the past. The experiences you have right now—things as mundane as what you did at work today—are all part of your living legacy.

Special Father-Son Activities for a Memorable Valentine’s Day

Happy father and son with love cloud at beach

Happy father and son with love cloud at beach

On a day devoted to love, why not spend some special one-on-one time with your son? After all, love isn’t just for couples, it’s for everyone from parents to siblings to kids to friends and even pets. Below are a few ideas for a Valentine’s guys’ day with your son.

For younger boys

If your son is in preschool or elementary school, prepare a homemade lunch for two with a heart-shaped theme. Kraft Recipes has a tasty heart-shaped pita sandwich recipe. Of course, the pita can be subbed for any type of bread, as we all know kids are picky eaters. Make or buy heart-shaped cookies for dessert and then give your favorite guy a little token of your love, even if it’s as simple as a small stuffed animal. Then, after lunch, head outdoors for a walk or bike ride.

For middle school boys

If your son is between ages 10 and 14, he probably likes crafty activities. Make Valentine’s Day bags and develop a plan of action to drop the bags off at his friends’ houses. Boys at this age inherently love the whole concept of Ding Dong Ditch, so channel your inner merry prankster and talk with him about what you might want to give your friends and neighbors. Go shopping together for candy, inexpensive goodies and small red paper gift bags with handles. After you fill the bags, set aside an evening so the two of you can carry out the mission. When you reach the destination, pull over and let him quietly walk up to the door, leave the bag, ring and bell and scurry back to the car. This adrenaline-filled evening is sure to be lots of fun. When you are finished delivering all of your mystery bags, head out for ice cream or frozen yogurt together.

For high school boys

Your teenage son might not want to admit this to you—he is practically a grown up and everything—but he really loves spending time with you. Let your teen know that in honor of Valentine’s Day, you want to spend an entire afternoon with him…and he gets to choose the activity. This could range from playing video games together to jamming for a couple of hours on your guitars.

If your son is into sports, the NBA All-Star game just happens to fall on Valentine’s Day weekend this year, from Feb. 13-15. Clear your schedule as much as you can and get comfy on the couch with him for a weekend full of basketball. Make it even better by ordering in a ton of food (pizza, wings, sodas) and stocking up on other snacks he loves, so once you’re on the couch, you don’t have to go anywhere except the kitchen. If you love popcorn, order a giant variety tin of gourmet popcorn from an online retailer (suggested: check out the Popcornopolis Gourmet 3-Flavor Popcorn Tin from FTD). Kettle corn, caramel popcorn and cheddar cheese popcorn in a tin that serves 20? It may actually fill up your teenage son’s stomach for an hour.

Understanding yourself and others + Wonders of parenting today + Saying “No” in a Yes culture

Ken Keis, author of Why Aren’t You More Like Me?
Topic: The secrets to understanding yourself and others.
Issues: Why certain kinds of people irritate you—and what you can do about it; increase team compatibility and leadership effectiveness; stop feeling offended and emotionally hooked; select the right job style for yourself; understand and encourage your spouse and children.



Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad.
Topic: The wonders, terrors, and idiocy of parenting today.
Issues: How today’s young parents are different from those of previous generations; how unorthodox parents are becoming the mainstream; maintaining your pre-baby life after becoming a parent.



David Walsh, author of No.
Topic: Why kids of all ages need to hear it and ways parents can say it.
Issues: Do your children suffer from Discipline Deficit Disorder? Saying NO in a YES culture; three myths about self-esteem; why letting kids feel bad sometimes is a good idea; consequences of giving kids everything they want.

Using Sports To Build Health And Character

Intolerance. Obesity. Bullying. The media is full of reminders about the negative things that affect young people today. And there’s a lot of truth there. There’s also a lot of truth behind the idea that participating in sports can help mitigate some of those negative traits. Unfortunately, too many obsessive sports parents are focusing on the material and self-serving aspects of sports instead of on the positive ones.

So let’s do the numbers: A boy who plays high school baseball has a 1 in 4,000 chance of ever playing in the big leagues. Given typical rosters of 20 or so, it would take some two hundred high school baseball teams to produce a single major leaguer.
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My Dad, the Neighborhood, and Sports: The Value of a Good Game

My family grew up in Pepperell, Massachusetts and what made it so amazing was that my father was one of ten brothers (yes, 10!). Because of family history there was a 99% chance that you would become a carpenter (or did some kind of activity in construction).

Everyone in the family held these type of professions which created a really unique upbringing because my family and extended family essentially built the neighborhoods all around where we lived. Everyone knew one another and all us kids were always roaming the streets going from house to house.

One of the most popular activities we kids would play (often joined by our dads) was street hockey since so many of us were still pretty bad at ice skating at that time.

In Mass you’ve basically got your football and you’ve got your hockey.

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