Tips for Being the Best Dad You Can Be

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Tips for Being the Best Dad You Can Be
Confused about your role as a new father? Cathi and Dan advise.

For the best advice on sex, love, dating and relationships we ask two experts with personal experience. Cathi Hanauer is the author, most recently, of Sweet Ruin, a novel about love, marriage, and adultery. Daniel Jones is the editor of both the "Modern Love" column for The New York Times, and Modern Love, an anthology derived from the column. They've been married for 15 years, and together they provide a his and hers take on relationship questions. This round: fatherhood responsibilities.

Question: As I lie here at 3:42 a.m. thinking about my breastfeeding wife down the hall losing sleep, I wonder: Do I have any real responsibility to help my crying baby at night when human physiology has not yet provided me with the ability to breastfeed? – R.M., Reno, Nev.

 

Cathi: Sorry, but yes. Or at least you have a responsibility to help your wife as she helps the crying baby, especially in those first few weeks, when she's probably sore, exhausted, overwhelmed, and not a little stressed out. Haul your butt out of bed and bring the screaming baby to your wife; that alone is huge. If your wife needs a cold drink, a nursing pillow, a hot compress--you're the man for the task. It's also nice if you offer to burp/change/soothe the baby between switching breasts, or after it's fed.

In other words, snoring for eight hours straight with your earplugs crammed in while your wife staggers through four feedings won't earn you many brownie points (brownie points being what you'll need a lot of if you ever want to have sex with her again). Ditto for, say, watching The Apprentice while she scrapes the breakfast dishes between nursings, or arriving home from work at 8:45 when she's just put the baby down. (No, this is not the month to "grab a couple of drinks" with your new assistant.)

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