I Want a Baby but My Husband Doesn’t

I am 32 and have the worst case of “I-want-a-baby-syndrome.” The problem is that my husband is nowhere near ready. I cry sometimes when I visit my friends with children and I have to leave. Please help so I don’t drive my husband looney, pestering him and trying to convince him to have a child now!

The place to start is to gently figure out why your husband isn’t ready. He may be feeling insecure about his job, about your relationship, about money issues (being able to support the family if you’re off work), the political situation, the economy, the environment, or something else. Once you get an idea of the cause, you can help him overcome his fears by offering solutions that ease his concerns-but do it in a supportive way. Putting pressure on him or giving ultimatums is the wrong way to go.

What IS It with Girls and Clothes?

Dear Mr. Dad: Ever since my daughter turned 13, all she does is pressure my wife and me to buy her extravagant, overpriced clothing. We’re going through a bit of a rough financial patch and there’s no way we can afford what she’s asking for. Any advice?

A: Clearly you were never a teenage girl. Okay, neither was I, but I did survive my two oldest daughters’ bouts with teen wardrobe insanity and still have most of my hair. My youngest, who worships her older sisters and apparently was taking good notes during their adolescent years, is threatening to become a teenager herself in a few years and has already developed some very firm ideas about clothes.
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Sensing Insensitivity

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is Japanese, I’m white, and our daughter is biracial. When I’m out with her in public, strangers are constantly stopping me to ask what country we adopted her from. (Interestingly, my wife tells me this never happens to her.) I feel like wearing a button that says, “No, you jerk, my child isn’t adopted!” Is there some way I can get people to stop asking me this irritating question?

A: More and more people these days are describing themselves as bi-racial. In fact, according to 2010 Census data , the number of biracial and multiracial people is up 50 percent since 2000 (that’s when the Census Bureau first gave the option to check more than one “race” box.) Theoretically, that should mean that over time, biracial children will be less of a novelty. In the meantime, you’ll still have to deal with insensitive (and/or ignorant) people.

While the questions you’re fielding are definitely irritating, only a very small percentage or people are asking out of racism. Most really mean no harm—it’s their way of admiring your daughter. Some have boundary issues (these are the same people who have no problem coming up to a pregnant woman they don’t know and rubbing her belly). And some weren’t paying attention when their parents tried to give them the “think-before-you-open-your-mouth” lesson. They’re not bad people, just a bit clueless.

That said, your frustration is understandable. Still, the most important thing you can do is stay calm. When you’re out in public, there’s no way to keep people from asking you questions, whether it’s about where you got your hair cut or the ice cream cone you’re eating or whether or not your child is adopted.

Don’t feel that your job is to educate people about race (or manners). Taking on that responsibility will just add to your stress level. With that in mind, the easiest thing to do is calmly say something like, “No, my child isn’t adopted. My wife is Japanese and our daughter is bi-racial.” That’ll clear things up for anyone who genuinely wanted to know about adoption and will probably make anyone with less-than-positive intentions feel a little silly.

As annoying as these questions are, they give you a wonderful opportunity to discuss the issue with your daughter. You might point out that she’s getting all the extra attention because she’s unique—and that being unique is a good thing (this is the same conversation I have with my youngest daughter, who’s constantly approached by people asking her, “Where’d you get the red hair?”) You could also mention that Barack Obama—even though he identifies as black—has a white mother and is just as bi-racial as your daughter.

No matter how these questions make you feel, keep the anger, resentment, frustration, and whatever else out of your voice and body language. If you respond in any kind of negative way, your daughter will feel that you think there’s something wrong with her or that being bi-racial is a bad thing. That’s a message you never want to send. Ever. She’ll also use your behavior as a model for how to react when people inevitably start approaching her directly instead of going through you.

As parents, we can’t keep people from asking us questions about our kids, especially if they’re cute and charming. Your number one priority is your daughter’s well-being and making sure she has a positive perception of herself. That’s a lot more important than educating or scolding some random person that you meet and will probably never see again.

As if pregnant women didn’t have enough to worry about already

I think this headline just about says it all:

Woman’s abdomen catches fire during C-section, as surgical tool ignites antiseptic

The whole, rather gruesome, article is here.

The age of public humiliation — Has it really come to this?

A few hundred years ago, thieves, vandals, and other petty criminals were publicly humiliated by being put in the stocks (picture below) where they were passers-by pelted them with eggs and rotten vegetables. And of course there’s Hester Pryne, the adulteress in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, who was forced to wear a red A on her dress to announce her crime to everyone who saw her.

But a full decade into the 21st century, we’re back to publicly humiliating people.

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Hey, Dad, You’re More Normal Than You Think

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is expecting our first child. Initially, I was really excited, but lately I’ve been having these strange thoughts that the baby isn’t actually mine. I trust my wife completely and don’t want to mention this to her, but am I nuts?

A: In a word, No. At some point after the initial excitement passes, a surprising number of men find themselves experiencing exactly what you are: an irrational fear that the child their partner is carrying is not theirs. In his research with expectant dads, psychologist Jerrold Lee Shapiro found that 60 percent “acknowledged fleeting thoughts, fantasies, or nagging doubts that they might not really be the biological father of the child.” Like you, most of these men don’t actually believe their partners are having affairs. Instead, according to Shapiro, the feelings are symptoms of a common type of insecurity: the fear many men have that “they simply aren’t capable of doing anything as incredible as creating life, and that someone more potent must have done the job.” Fortunately, most guys get over these feelings pretty quickly.
Interestingly, irrational thoughts aren’t confined to biological dads. Men whose partners got pregnant using donor sperm—who actually didn’t do the biological creating—often have them too. A lot of guys worry that the sperm samples were switched and that they’ll end up with a child of a different race. Actually, it’s not so much race as physical similarity. Most couples who conceive artificially opt not to make the details of the pregnancy public. And, like any other dads, these guys hope their children will look like them—at least enough so that they won’t have to deal with the inevitable “Gee, the baby doesn’t look anything like you” comments.