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Anger and Lack of Patience with Crying Baby










QUESTION:

I am a young father in my mid-twenties, I love my son, however I have always really disliked babies. I had always heard that being a parent was a great sacrifice, but never truly understood just how much of a selfless undertaking it was. I have much more respect for good parents now than before I became a father.

That said, despite all of my family assuring me I will miss it once it has passed, I cannot wait for my son to grow out of the baby phase!

This brings me to my purpose of writing: My inexplicable lack of patience and anger towards my son when the tears start flowing and he begins making shrill, ear piercing cries. The cause does not matter, neither does the type of cry. My heart starts beating faster, my emotions change from concern and caring to anger and frustration. There are times recently where I feel so enraged that I want to just put him down in his crib, close the door and go put on noise canceling headphones to totally block him out. Even if he is in pain and my initial compulsion is to comfort him, the sound he makes drains all compassion from me and when at the start of his cries I had felt love and empathy, once the shrill crying sets in my feelings quickly dissolve into anger, disgust, and loathing. Feeling this way makes me feel so guilty, as if by feeling this way I am saying to my son: "how dare you have feelings!" or "How dare you try to communicate your needs!" Or "shut up, your feelings don't matter!"

I have tried the counting technique and deep breathing. I have taken to wearing earplugs all the time to dampen the noise level.

Looking forward to any suggestions on how to be a better dad.




ANSWER:

We get questions like yours routinely; more fathers need to talk about the downside of babies. Your acute frustration over his crying is bad for all involved, and you need to get some relief to give you some sense of control so you can deal with it constructively. Here are some ideas:

  • Once he is fed and changed, put the headphones on and crank them up so you can’t hear the crying. You can try leave him crying in the crib (he will be fine but you may find guilt precludes relaxing); or put him in a swing, or you can take him for a walk in a stroller or baby carrier around the neighborhood. Best case scenario would be for you to wear cranked-up or noise-canceling headphones and put him to sleep on your chest.
  • Talk to your wife/mate about what is happening and how you are going to deal with it. Suggest tag teaming the crying baby with her coming in when you can’t handle it and you doing more of something she doesn’t like to do.
  • Once you feel some sense of control, take your calming/crying techniques to the next level; a five-month-old is interested in everything new and is often easily distracted by a mirror, the leaves in the backyard, etc. This is also baby brain development at its finest, and can offset the guilt about cranking up the headphones.
  • At six months on, babies are able to do more and more and you can take him to the hardware store in a front carrier and show him all the tools, roughhouse, and swimming lessons, all work; especially when you get out alone with him.

The above will also enhance the natural biological process that ties a father and son together (you know the feelings), which are temporally getting short circuited due to the crying.

These crying issues do go away with age, but a feeling you didn’t cut it as a new dad can linger. We dads are confronted by all sorts of challenges, and we measure ourselves not on the problems, but how we respond to them. Like your writing looking for answers.

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