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Fatherhood

  1. Ambivalent feelings about impending fatherhood will not make you a bad father. Nearly every man has some ambivalence about fatherhood.
  2. Men who choose not to be present at the birth of their child cite a variety of reasons: fear of queasiness, fear of witnessing a partner in pain, fear of getting in the way, religion, concerns about privacy, and discomfort with the supportive role of coach.
  3. In trying to figure out what kind of father you want to be, it might be helpful to evaluate your own father's fathering. What did your dad do with you that you liked? What did he do that you disliked? How would you like to be just like him? How would you like to be different? If you could have changed one thing about your relationship with your father, what would it have been? What's the best thing he ever did for you?
  4. The answers to these questions can help steer you in the direction you'd like to go now that you're a father.
  5. Get used to changing diapers—and try to add some fun to it—because your baby will go through 7,000–10,000 in her first 30 months.
  6. Many of the decisions you and your partner make as parents are at least somewhat reversible. Don't agonize too much over making the right choice all the time. If you make the wrong one, you can probably change it.
  7. It takes a lot of money to raise a child. You can anticipate spending $85–$220,000 per child—not including college—depending on your family income and the number of kids you have.
  8. If you have not done so already, move your older child out of the crib and into a bed (or into a new bedroom) well before the birth of your new baby. (If you children are less than two or three years apart, of course, your older child may not be ready for a bed. If so, you'll need a second crib or bassinet for the new baby.) If you wait until the last minute (or even several weeks before the new arrival) your child will almost certainly feel resentful about being supplanted.
  9. Having a second child more than doubles the responsibilities of fatherhood.
  10. Encourage your child, regardless of his age, to take a little downtime every day. Especially as he begins to cut down on the number of naps he takes—or, horrors, eliminates them entirely—your child will need you to provide at least an hour or two of quiet activities: reading drawing or painting, listening to music, even watching television.
  11. Unless you are invited to take part, try to stay out of your child's make-believe games (though they can often be fun to listen in on). Your child will exercise his imagination much more if you keep your input out of it. Your child will create his own special worlds of make-believe—by himself or with a friend. If he asks you to play a particular role in his pretend play, however, don't hesitate to accept. But play the part strictly according to your child's script. Let your child weave his own scenarios rather than direct the plot yourself.
  12. When your child asks about death, provide straightforward answers, while at the same time offering reassurance to calm his fears.
  13. Accentuate the positive. Don't guide your child's behavior solely through negative words and negative measure. Make a real effort to reinforce behavior that you approve of by showering your child with praise. Take not of the times when your child demonstrates kindness, generosity, or consideration or the rare occasions when he resolves a conflict peacefully. The more you praise your child's good behavior, the more you will see your child trying to repeat it.
  14. In trying to teach your child good behavior of any kind—whether manners, safe conduct, honesty, nonviolence, or kindness and consideration—keep in mind that even more influential than what you say is what you do. Your child will watch you carefully to make sure that your actions match your words—and will quickly catch you in any hypocrisy. If you're going to talk the talk, then make sure to walk the walk.
  15. By the time your child enters kindergarten, she should know both her address and her telephone number for safety's sake. If your child doesn't know these, teach her. In the meantime, however, until she can recite both her address and her telephone number (and recite them consistently), write down her name, address, and phone number on a piece of paper and put it in her pocket of book bag every day.

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