Maybe I’m Just Not Cut Out to Be a Dad

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a new dad—my son was born two months ago—and although I hate to admit it, I’m not feeling much like a parent. My wife wants me to be as involved as she is, playing with, feeding, talking to, and changing the baby. But I’m honestly not that interested. I was perfectly happy with the way my life was before. As you can imagine, my wife is rather annoyed with me. So I’ve got two questions for you: Aside from making my wife happy, why should I be involved? And is there something I can do to get more interested in fatherhood?

Those are two great questions—ones plenty of new parents struggle with but are afraid to admit they have. After all, we live in an egalitarian time and men and women are supposed to be equal partners in parenting, and we’re all supposed to fall head-over-feet in love with our babies from the second they’re born, right? Reality—as you’ve discovered—doesn’t always work out that way. The truth is that not everyone is born with the desire—or is cut out to be—an involved parent. And political correctness aside, not every couple is fully egalitarian. That said, there’s another facet of reality that you have to confront: Yes, you may have been happy with your pre-baby life, but you’re in a very different place now, and things will never be the same.
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Please Don’t Bite the Baby + Good Kids, Bad Choices

Lisa Edwards, author of Please Don’t Bite the Baby.
Topic:
Keeping your kids and your dogs safe and happy together.
Issues: Making sure your dog is prepared for a baby; verifying that your dog is properly trained and will respond quickly and properly; the basic commands your dog should know; how to train children to behave with dogs; why you should never leave a dog and child alone; what to do if something goes wrong.

Barb Van Loon, author of Good Kids, Bad Choices.
Topic:
Why your kids are breaking the law and how to get them to stop.
Issues: Differences between youth crimes and adult crimes; recognizing red flags that may indicate that your child is engaged in criminal activity; non-violent crimes that could land your kid in jail (including cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, identify theft, and so on); when to blame yourself and when not; is it possible to recover from having a crime on your record?

Sex-Starved Dad: Don’t Get Your Hopes–Or Anything Else–Up

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a new dad and love everything about fatherhood. But my marriage is fraying. Our baby’s birth was uneventful and my wife’s OB told us that we could have sex again after six weeks. He’s eight months old now and my wife and I have had sex exactly one time since the birth. That’s it. I’ve tried talking with her about this, and her response is that she simply has no sex drive anymore. I’m 27 and my sex drive is pretty healthy. I feel bad bugging her to do something she apparently doesn’t feel like doing and I don’t want our relationship to end over this. I’m trying to be as sympathetic as I can, but is it normal for women to lose their sex drive for this long after giving birth? Is there anything I can do to increase her sex drive?

The reason most OBs tell new parents to hold off on having sex for those famous six weeks is that it usually takes that long for the woman’s body to recover. But that six-week guideline can lead to unrealistic expectations, which in turn can lead to resentment and relationship strain. Sound familiar? The reality is that plenty of couples take as long as a year to get back to their pre-pregnancy and pre-baby sex life.

Here are a few of the many factors that could be putting a damper on your wife’s sex drive:

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Do You Read Me, Baby?

reading to newbornDear Mr. Dad: I have a two-month old baby and I love to read to him. My wife thinks I’m wasting my time and that there’s no sense reading before he starts learning words. Is it too soon to be reading to my son? If not, what should I read?

You’re definitely not wasting your time. In fact, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do. Admittedly, for the first few months, your reading won’t seem to be having any effect. And it doesn’t really matter what you read: a Wall Street Journal article, the menu from that Chinese takeout place down the road, or your high school calculus textbook. It’s not about education. Besides being a wonderful opportunity for the two of you to snuggle together, the goal is simply to get him used to the sound of the language and to have him associate reading with comfort and fun.

“When children have been read to, they enter school with larger vocabularies, longer attention spans, greater understanding of books and print, and consequently have the fewest difficulties in learning to read,” writes Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. If that doesn’t convince your wife, try this: 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems. I can’t guarantee that reading to your baby will keep him from getting arrested 13 years from now, but there’s no question that reading is an important habit to develop, and there’s no such thing as “too early” to start.
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When Kids Call the Shots + Rookie Moms


Sean Grover, author of When Kids Call the Shots.
Topic:
How to seize control from your darling bully and enjoy being a parent again.
Issues: Understanding the root causes of your child’s bossy behavior; how your own insecurities and history have shaped your parenting choices; types of parents who are more susceptible to being bullied by their kids; three most common bullying styles that kids use–and strategies you can use to restore your leadership.

Heather Flett, coauthor of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook.
Topic:
Motherhood, fatherhood, the changing landscape of parenthood.
Issues: How motherhood has changed over the last 10 years; the mom blogging community; resources for new moms; the importance of letting the dad do things his way; the role of social media in creating communities of moms.

Dog and Babies

baby and dogDear Mr. Dad: I’m pregnant with our first child and I’m due in about four moinths. One of the things I’m worried about is our dog, a 150-pound male mastiff, who is truly a part of our family and not just a pet. Some friends of ours say that it’s dangerous to have a giant dog around a newborn and that we should start looking for a new home for him. Is it? And is there some way to prepare our dog and keep our baby safe?

A: There’s no way to predict with 100 percent accuracy how animals are going to react in any given situation, but you can get some hints by asking yourself these questions: What is the dog’s personality? Is he aggressive or territorial? Does he growl or bite? Does he jump on you, the furniture, or guests? Has he spent time with children? Does he like children? How protective is he of his toys? Could he possibly confuse a neatly wrapped up baby with a chewable toy? Does he bark when he wants attention? Does he understand and obey basic commands? I’m sure you can figure out which questions need a Yes answer and which need a No.

But no matter how wonderful your dog is, there’s always some risk. According to Michael Wombacher, author of “Good Dog, Happy Baby,” of the 4.7 million people who get bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year, 80 percent are children under five. Eighty percent of those bites are to the face and happen during feeding, petting, or playing. Most of those dogs live in the victim’s home and have no history of biting.

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