Dads and Daughters + What New Dads Need to Know + Surprising Facts of Modern Parenthood

www.amazon.co.ukBrian Klems, author of Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl.
Topic:
A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.
Issues: Learning to love pink, tea parties, and painted nails; thinking ahead to her first crush, dating, marriage; why having daughters is the best.

www.amazon.co.ukJoe Deyo, author of Checklists for the New Dad.
Topic:
Pregnancy, delivery, and baby’s first year
Issues: Building a solid plan for fathering; making a smooth lifestyle transition with a baby at home; improving yourself and your marriage; baby proofing the home.

www.amazon.co.ukSam Apple, author of .
Topic:
Strange, surprising in modern babyland.
Issues: Is the Lamaze method a Stalinist plot (yes!); Does it sting when you pour baby shampoo in your eyes? Who invented waterbirthing? And many other odd, unusual, and strange thinks about parenthood.

Picking A Childbirth Class

Every expectant couple I know is taking a Lamaze or Bradley class. Is it really necessary to learn about the childbirth process? Or will I end up sitting around with the other dads, listening to a bunch of pregnant moms talking about babies?

One of the advantages of taking a childbirth preparation class is that it’ll give you and your wife the opportunity to ask questions about the pregnancy in a more relaxed setting than her doctor’s office. You’ll also get a chance to hang out with other expecting couples and listen to the women swap stories about how much weight they’ve gained, how much their joints hurt, how many times they get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
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Is This Really the Beginning Or Just an Ending in Disguise?

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is pregnant. She already has two children from two different dads, but this will be my first child. She seems to have feelings of regret about the whole thing even though we planned this pregnancy for a long time. How can I reassure her that we’re going to be fine and that she is the most important thing in my life right now?

A: In the first year after the birth of a baby, 90 percent of couples have a huge drop off in the quantity and quality of their communication. Half the time it’s permanent. That sad little statistic goes a long way toward explaining why the divorce rate among couples with small children is among the highest of all. Given that your wife has had two children with different fathers, it’s clear to her that having a baby isn’t enough to keep two people together. In fact, in her mind, having a baby may actually be the first step toward the end of a relationship.

Telling your wife that she’s the most important thing in your life is a good first step, but you can’t just say it once or twice and let it go. With the baggage it sounds like your wife may be dragging around, she’s going to need to hear those words on a regular basis. You also need to banish the phrase “right now”—as in “she is the most important thing in my life right now” from your vocabulary. Someone who’s as worried as your wife is will be asking herself, “Sure, I’m important to him now, but what about later?”

If you’ve ever taken a writing workshop you know about the importance of showing over telling. So get ready to start proving that you’re in it for the long haul. How? Well, it seems kind of trite, but some of the most basic approaches are the most successful. For example, calling her a few times a day just to tell her you love her, sending her flirty texts (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, sexts), leaving love notes in her purse or some other place where she’ll find them, bringing home flowers, and planning some getaways. You don’t actually have to go very far or for very long. If you Google “babymoon,” you’ll find a ton of resorts and hotels that have romantic, massage-filled, packages ranging from a long afternoon to a full weekend or longer, and from pretty reasonably priced to insanely expensive.

Okay, that takes care of showing your wife that you love her. But there’s still the issue of demonstrating that having a baby isn’t going to kill your marriage. This is another case of show it don’t tell it. And there are all sorts of ways to make your point. Start by doing some reading. My book, “The Expectant Father,” is a good place to start. If you’ve got friends or relatives with little kids, visit them often and try to get in some baby-holding time. The object is to show your wife that you’re interested in learning everything you can about what it takes be an involved dad. Next, get out your calendar and have her tell you when all her prenatal OB visits are. Then, try to make it to as many of them as you can. Just showing up will be a credibility booster. Bringing along a few questions for the doctor will boost your stock even more. Oh, and while you have your calendar out, schedule a childbirth prep class.

I Love You, Honey But Do I Really Have to Go?

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is six months pregnant and she just signed the two of us up for a childbirth prep class at the hospital where our baby will be born. The problem is that while she’s all excited about the class, I have no interest at all. Don’t get me wrong—I’m excited about becoming a dad and I want to be there to support her and everything, but I’ve heard from a number of my friends that they didn’t feel particularly welcome in the class and that the entire focus was on the mom-to-be. Should I just suck it up and go to the class, even though I don’t want to?

A: In a sentence, yes, suck it up. Your friends are right: the focus of childbirth prep classes is definitely on the expectant mom (more on that in a minute). And there’s a good chance that you won’t feel welcome. But there’s an even better chance that your wife will never forgive you if you bail on the class. In her mind, there’s a direct connection between how much she feels you love her and how much interest you have in being a dad. And while to you, your excitement level about your impending fatherhood and taking—or not taking—a prep class are completely separate issues, to her they’re one and the same.

Now, back to the focus of the class. One of the problems I’ve had with childbirth education is that it’s entirely too mom focused. No question, delivering a baby is something we, as guys, will never quite understand—and I’m okay with that. But the reality is that psychologically, your transition to parenthood is just as profound as your wife’s. Your life is going to be turned upside down as much as hers. In fact, one could argue you’re your transition is even harder—she has so much more social support than you do. Unfortunately, that important bit of information is too often overlooked. (That’s exactly why I wrote The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to Be, and did a DVD called “Toolbox for New Dads,” both of which focus on men and how they’re affected by pregnancy, birth, and beyond.)

The solution? First, slap a smile on your face and make sure you’ve cleared your schedule for the 6-8 evenings the class will last. You won’t be alone. In my research, most expectant dads who take prep classes with their partner do so for her. Interestingly, a recent study in Sweden reached the same conclusion. Second, sign up for a dad-only class. I’ve been teaching seminars for expectant dads for years and I can assure you that having a woman in the room completely changes the dynamics. Guys aren’t nearly as open about discussing the things they really want to know about, their fears, worries, concerns (which is why every time an expectant mom wants to sit in on the class, I—very gently—ask her to leave). If your hospital doesn’t offer a dad-only class, the DVD I mentioned is a good alternative. Third, read everything you can possibly get your hands on about labor and delivery. You need to know what labor looks like, how long it typically lasts, how you can best help your wife through it, what kinds of things typically go wrong (and there’s always something), medication options, who all those people are and why they’re running in and out of your room, and again, what you can do if there’s a Plan B or C or D.