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Not Love At First Sight With Newborn
I'm a father for a second time around with a three year old and a newborn. I fear I don't love my second daughter.
When my wife and I had our first it was love at first sight for me and as the years go by that love grows stronger by the day. Our second daughter is 3-weeks old but it doesn't feel the same. I feel I love her because I'm her father and it's my duty to. I've not been bowled over with love, I'm just sort of there feeling empty.
I feel like such a bad person, I'm so ashamed to admit how I feel. I've told my wife how I feel and it's driving a wedge between us. She can't even talk to me about it and can't understand why I don't feel that love. I think it's really hurting her as well as me. What is wrong with me?
One guy said his baby looked like his mother-in-law when his daughter was born, which was a problem, temporarily. The thousands of men who've come through Boot Camp for New Dads, have run into every issue imaginable that can get in the way of bonding (the mind works in mysterious ways), but none found it to be long term.
The last decade of brain research makes it clear that bonding is fundamentally a biological process that generates the mental processes a father experiences (which can interact with other mental processes that get in the way). We inherited from our cave-dad ancestors hormonal flows and neural network development triggered by their babies, that drove them to take on the tremendous responsibilities babies presented.
You can try to sort out in your mind what might be contributing to why bonding hasn't been instant with your second daughter. Regardless of what it is or whether you can identify it, the solution is the same - let your and your daughter's powerful biological drives do their thing. Hands-on contact is what drives both; so suggestions:
- Get a baby carrier so you can wrap her to your chest and go for walks around neighborhood; wear headphones with your favorites cranked up so you can relax too.
- Put her on your chest and take a nap together; sit in a recliner chair so you don't roll over; skin to skin with your shirt off and her in her diaper works best (as it did for cave dads who slept with his baby between he and mom).
- Give her baths, teach her how to have fun splashing, and think about perhaps learning to surf together (they can start at three). If she seems too slippery, put socks over your hands.
- Talk to her (privately) about your concerns to get them off your chest; babies are incredibly understanding.
- Show her the world starting with stuff in your house and backyard. Babies are fascinated with everything.
- Rough house with her, another thing we dads do that has huge benefits to our babies. Don't dial it down for your daughters, instead double down to give them the confidence they will need to kick the butt in the work force.
- Recognize that normally your wife will focus on the newborn while you get more involved with your first-born; suggest you take on a large role with both.
- Think ahead - sports is huge for dads and daughters. So get in what ever you can with your 3 year old and include your baby as she grows. Be the coach for their Pee Wee team; you don't need to know anything about the sport
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