Dear Mr. Dad: I’m the father of two kids, five and six. I love them fiercely, and I think we have a good relationship, but I worry that I’m a bad dad. One things I hate about myself is that I can’t seem to connect with the kids during play and I actually have a hard time making myself play with them. That doesn’t seem like something a good parent would have a problem with. What’s wrong with me?
A: Ok, first off, there’s nothing wrong with you—the fact that you’re worried about this aspect of your personality says you’re not a bad parent at all. Many of us were raised to believe that good parents play with their kids (and they do). However, the reverse—that parents who don’t get down and dirty with the little ones are bad parents—is simply not true. Chances are excellent that you’re struggling with playtime not because you hate your children (again, the fact that you’re worried about it takes that option off the table), but because spontaneous or casual play simply may not be part of your personality.