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New Dad Not Feeling Appreciated










QUESTION:

I am a new dad, my son is 6 months old and I honestly have loved every second of being a father! The late night feedings and lack of sleep hasn't really bothered me too much. I work a night shift and when I get home I'm tired but I force myself to spend time with my wife and son. I allow my wife to do anything she wants for a few hours when I get home so she can recharge. I do all the cooking and I help out as much as possible with the other chores. Lately it feels like I am under appreciated which has caused a few arguments. My stress levels have been rising and I really hate feeling that way. Should also add I haven't really had any "me time" since he has been born but my wife had a a few days here and there to go out with friends while I watched our son cause I feel like she deserves it more then me.

How can I deal with stress better then keeping it all bottled in?




ANSWER:

You have stepped up to the responsibilities of a new father big time, aren't getting enough sleep, the new mom in your life doesn't return the appreciation you have for her, and your relationship, instead of being a source of strength, is a source of stress. Pretty standard for many new fathers today. At six months it is totally time for a reset on all these issues. Here's what you can try:

  • The stress probably wears you out more than the lack of sleep, so first get some me time for yourself so you can blow off steam. A popular "deal" is mom gets Saturday morning for herself and then you get Sunday morning for yourself. Me-time is essential for both of you, so make it a priority for both.
  • Communication suffers big time in these situations, so talk to your wife and be clear about your issues regarding appreciation. Ask her how you can make her life better, and then tell her how she can make your life better. Don't expect an immediate response as she will take a while to come around; just lay it out so the issue can't be ignored. Tell her you are in this together and you need to work together to make it work.
  • At six months it's time to make your relationship a priority, as nothing is more important to making a happy family. Insist on a date night - arrange a babysitter if needed. You will need to take the initiative, but again make it a priority. A little time together away from the baby can do wonders.
  • Last, take full advantage of your 6-month-old son for both appreciation and stress reduction. If possible (given your sleep and work schedule), get out with him alone regularly rather than spending all your free time with mom and the baby. He will be fascinated with anything you show him such as the tools in a hardware store or people-watching at the park. Getting out together, by yourselves, is when us dads develop that special relationship with our children. He will appreciate you big time with some big, gummy smiles. There is also nothing better for stress reduction than putting your baby on your chest and taking a nap together.

Both decades of experience working with new families and science indicate that essentially moms dump dads when the baby arrives, and the way moms fall back in love with dad is by seeing him taking care of their baby. So the more baby time you get, the more she should appreciate you. Cooking is great, but giving the baby a bath gives you bonding time with your baby and gives mom a chance to fall in love with you again.

A final thought is that you might consider going to sleep when you get home, and doing the dad-thing in the late afternoon and evening before work. That's when moms are most burnt out and perhaps more appreciative.

Hang in there; you're already giving daddyhood a great shot, and a few adjustments might do the trick to feel more appreciated.

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