Ah, today’s dad. He’s devoted. He’s involved. He’s got questions. With that in mind, we asked a few pensive papas — whose kids range in age from three weeks to 12 years — to share some questions that scare, embarrass or downright confound them. And then got some hard answers from their wives. (No, they’re not experts. But they are moms, and don’t they know best?)
Q – We grew up outdoors, unlike kids these days it seems. I don’t want my child to grow up watching TV and playing computer games. What can I do?
A – Is that the hockey playoffs/golf tourney/Indy race you’re about to watch, Mr. Outdoors? Monkey see, monkey do. Get back outside and bring your favourite little friend with you.
Q – Our first baby is now home, and we’re not sleeping. But when do we start losing sleep for fun reasons again?
A – Easy, tiger. You saw what she endured giving birth. Combine that with some hormonal changes and possible physical discomfort, and you’ve got an unpredictable equation on your hands. In the meantime, you can explore other things other than full coitus. Just use your imagination.
Q – Our new baby girl has poo everywhere. Literally. I’m guessing it can’t be good if it gets in “there.” How do I keep her clean?
A – Do this in order: wipe away any feces with a warm cloth or baby wipe; clean her tummy up to her belly button; clean inside all the creases at the tops of her legs, wiping down and away from her body; clean her genitals front to back to prevent the possibility of an infection caused by bacteria getting into her vagina; and with a fresh wipe, clean her buttocks and thighs.
Q – I may lose it soon if our toddler keeps losing it. How can we stop the whining, crying, screaming and squirming on the floor when he doesn’t get what he wants?
A – Just like delivering on rewards as incentive, you need to carry through withholding treats if he doesn’t behave. How many times have you caved? Be strong!
Q – An older kid just gave my toddler a shove at the local play structure, and his guardian didn’t notice. My instinct is to throttle the punk. What’s my next move?
A – Throttle: bad, notify: good. Once you’ve checked on your child, let the guardian know what happened and get them involved in the diffusing of the situation as soon as possible. The offender needs to learn that hitting is unacceptable, but not from you. The adult may be indifferent to the event, so at the very least insist politely on a kid-to-kid apology.
Q – My two-year-old son wants to be a princess. He plays with dolls and wears dresses. Is this a phase, or has my dream of having a son who’s a NFL linebacker already vanishing?
A – It could be a phase, but any cognitive developments involving imagination, regardless of gender alignment, should be encouraged. Putting voice and names to the dolls is a significant developmental milestone. (And if you actually think sexual orientation and pro sports — even football — are mutually exclusive, Google Roy Simmons, David Kopay and Esera Tuaolo.)
Q – Rover just got flattened by the downtown express and he’s not coming back. How do I break it to my preschooler? Do I actually introduce the concept of death at this point?
A – Start with the squished worms on the sidewalk. Work up to the dog. Discussing people who have passed away may have to come soon, and hopefully the inevitable sadness will have been gradual rather than shocking.
Q – My five-year-old has sized up the mall-Santa’s butt and the width of our chimney and he’s no longer buying
it. Ditto the bunny distributing chocolate the world over. (And the Tooth Fairy’s black-market operation seems dubious, too.) Do I burst the magic bubble?
A – Keep the fantasy alive as long as you can. Ruining the magic is the job of an older sibling or cousin.
Q – OK, our daughter is turning 12 soon. Do I have to be in on the chat about her impending period?
A – Uh, yah! Would you rather be involved in helping her understand this incredibly awkward but amazing time and the changes her body is going through, or would you rather let the schoolyard take the lead on this one? But here’s a newsflash: you’re talking about the wrong daughter. Your 11-year-old is probably better informed than you. You need to be sitting down with your nine-year-old.
Q – Finally, back to sex. We have an eight-month-old, and my wife is still struggling to regain her pre-pregnancy body. How do I let her know I’m concerned?
A – Start by never, ever posing the question this way.
Q – How do I let my wife know that I’m amazed at her progress in regaining her pre-pregnancy body, and encourage her further?
A – That’s more like it. (But a spa gift certificate wouldn’t hurt either.)