Why You Should Wrestle with Your Daughter

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve got twins—one girl, one boy—and we love to wrestle together. I always thought I was treating them the same, but a few days ago, my wife told me that she thinks I play very differently with them—very physically with my son and much more gentle with my daughter. I started paying attention and I have to admit that she’s right. So now I’m wondering: is there any actual reason to be more gentle with my daughter? And should I be more gentle with my son?

A: No and no. Assuming you’re playing in a safe way and the kids are having fun (you should always take your cues from them), there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be just as rough and tumble with your daughter as you are with her brother. As the father of three daughters, I can assure you that little girls are just as sturdy as boys. In fact, based on science, one might argue that girls are actually sturdier. Although more males are conceived, more die in utero. And while more boys than girls are born, boys are more likely to be arrive prematurely and they’re more susceptible to disease and death. Boys are more likely than girls to die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and less likely to survive the first year than girls. As they get older, boys are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and many other conditions.
Despite all that, we still have this idea that girls are delicate and need to be physically coddled. That’s an idea that starts from the very beginning. What’s the first question people ask when someone has had a baby? Boy or girl? We ask because we want to know how to treat the child in question. Parents (both dads and moms) encourage independence and exploration more in boys than girls. They typically (and unconsciously) allow boys to cross the street by themselves at younger ages and wait a few seconds longer before picking up a boy who’s fallen than a girl. And, of course, they wrestle more with sons than daughters.
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True Strength is Strength Under Control

A guest post from HearDad.com 

It doesn’t take long for a father to be at his wits end with a toddler. Shorter still when the toddler naturally resists falling asleep, staying asleep, and going back to sleep. I can confidently presume that you’ve been where I frequently am. At the end of your rope. So close to giving up or lashing out that you often wonder if you’re the only one who has too much testosterone pulsing through your veins. I have great news for you. You’re not alone and your struggle is not hopeless.

Someone once said that true strength was strength under control. The more I mature in fatherhood the more this truth becomes apparent to me. All over the news you see, read and hear of another man or adolescent that snaps. They unleash all of their frustration, all of their anger, all of their supposed strength on a helpless child. Most often, this undeserving attack ends in death but can also end in permanent damage. It is absolutely never worth it. To anyone. Yet it keeps happening. Someone eventually snaps.

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Sex During Pregnancy

Q: Help! I’m an expectant father and something’s happening to my libido. I used to be one of those guys who loved to have sex anytime. But now that my wife is pregnant, I’ve completely lost interest. What’s wrong with me?

For some men, sex during pregnancy is an incredible turn-on. But for others, it borders on the revolting. Where you stand on the issue depends on a lot of factors, but one thing is pretty much guaranteed: When your partner is pregnant, your sex life will change.
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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.