Mr. Comfort

Dear Mr. Dad: I work pretty long hours and love playing with my 2-year old daughter as much as I can. But whenever she gets hurt or upset, she screams for her mommy. I know she’s not deliberately trying to hurt my feelings, but it still stings. Is there some way I can comfort her without needing to get my wife involved?

A: You’re absolutely right to try not to take your daughter’s behavior personally. And it’s great that you’re not giving up. Since your daughter spends more time with mom, it’s perfectly normal for her to have designated mommy as “the one to go to when something’s not right.” She’s probably put you into a different role: “playmate.” That said, it’s still important that you learn to help her—and that she learn to accept your help.
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When Mom Really Does Wear Combat Boots

Dear Mr. Dad: You’ve written a lot about dads in the military, but I’m in the opposite situation—my wife is a deployed Marine, and I’m at home with the kids. I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. What can I do to support her and keep myself—and the kids–sane?

A: First of all, thank you both for your service. With women making up about 11 percent of deployed servicememebers, you’re not alone. Here are a few ideas that may help.

  • Don’t fill your e-mails or phone calls with complaints or tell her about problems she can’t do anything to resolve. You’ll just frustrate her. But don’t paint an overly rosy picture either—she’ll get suspicious that you’re covering something up.
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Explaining the Unexplainable

Dear Mr. Dad: I am a single mom of a 14-year-old daughter. Throughout much of her childhood I suffered from severe depression, which went undiagnosed until very recently. I’m getting treatment now, and I’m feeling much better. However, my daughter thinks I was pretending to be sick all those years. That really hurts, but how do I explain to her what was really going on?

A: What a difficult situation for both of you. I get a sense from your letter that she either doesn’t know that you were depressed, or simply doesn’t understand what depression is. Or both. As a result, she believes (mistakenly, of course) that depression isn’t a “real” illness and that it’s “all in your mind,” or something you should be able to just snap out of.
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No Hopping in the Sack Just Yet Dad to Be

Dear Readers: In last week’s column, we heard from a woman who, was planning to get pregnant. We talked about a number of important steps she should take before actively trying to conceive. Even though she’s the one who’ll be carrying the baby, there’s plenty that the dad-to-be can do to increase fertility and up the odds of a healthy pregnancy.

So dad–your goal is to prepare a healthy environment for the baby to swim around in, and to prevent birth defects or other complications, right? But you never know when your partner is going to burst out of the bathroom waving a little white stick, and announce, “Honey, I’m pregnant!”
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