Walking a Mile in Mom’s Shoes

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve always resented my mother and thought she was a lousy parent. I saw only her negative side and was extremely critical and judgmental. But now that I’m a new mom myself, I see her in a different light and realize that her intentions were good. How do I make up for all the grief I’ve caused?

A: When it comes to admitting one’s mistakes and trying to make amends, being late is always better than never.

As children—and especially as teenagers and young adults—we tend to see our parents as too strict and old-fashioned. Close your eyes for a second and think back on how often you screamed things like, “I hate you!” or You just don’t understand me” or “I will never, ever be a parent like you!” Five times a day? More? All of us dream of having cool parents, the kind who would give us the freedom to act as we want, never interfere or criticize, never tell us what to do or impose rules. With criteria like that, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of moms and dads will fail miserably—at least in the eyes of their children.

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The Joys of Sleep Deprivation

Dear Mr. Dad: Our son is three weeks old and my wife is exhausted from breastfeeding. I have to be out of the house early in the morning to make it to work, but I do help her out between 2am and 4 am. But when I try to get a little sleep before or after those hours, or if I’m too slow to wake up, she’ll say to our son things like “Daddy doesn’t care.” This hurts my feelings because I’m doing as much as I can, and I do have to put in an 8-hour day in the office. How do I handle this situation?

A: This probably won’t make you feel much better, but there are plenty of new parents out there who can totally relate to your dilemma. Fact is, being tired, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed is a normal part of being a new parent.

I’m sure that everyone you knew tried to warn you that becoming a dad would turn your life upside down, right? And I’m sure you tried to prepare yourself for all the changes. But there’s a difference between watching a tornado on TV and having one blow the roof off your house. Now that your baby is actually here, it’s pretty obvious that nothing could have fully prepped you for the daily (and nightly) challenges of living with a newborn.
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