Dear Dr. Bill,
My wife and I have an 8-week old baby boy. I love my son very much, but I often find my selfishness rearing its ugly head. Whenever my wife asks me to help with the baby, I become frustrated, especially when I’m in the middle of something else. I know I need to put the needs of my son above my own, but I can't help but feel put upon when asked to do so. What should I do?
It’s common for new dads to have difficulty adjusting to a new baby. Some men feel “left out” when all of their wife’s time and energy is directed toward the baby. Also, guys may have a tough time relating to an infant…many men have an easier time relating to older children that they can interact with physically.
But as you said, you do need to put the needs of your baby above your own. Your infant is totally dependent on you and your wife right now, and the job of a parent requires a lot of patience and self-sacrifice.
I think it’s important for you to express your feelings of frustration to your wife. Let her know if you’ve been feeling lonely or ignored since the baby was born.
Naturally most of her time and attention needs to go toward the baby right now, and you need to adjust to that. But it’s important for new parents to make sure their “couple” relationship doesn’t suffer.
Susan Yates, the author of the book “And Then I had Kids,” stresses the importance of establishing a regular date night, even with a newborn at home. Ask a friend or relative to watch the baby for a few hours each week…it will go a long way toward keeping your marriage healthy.
By the way, my friends at Focus on the Family have some great advice for new dads. You can visit their website at focusonthefamily.com or call them at 1-800-A-FAMILY.
Thanks for writing, Jim. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.