Archive for May, 2011

Breastfeeding Battle

Posted on May 27, 2011. Filed under: Couples |

Dear Lora,

My husband thinks that it’s impossible for infants to bond with fathers until the baby stops nursing.  I find this perspective ridiculous.  What if I died during childbirth?  What if I had abandoned the baby?  Would that infant be unable to bond to his only remaining parent?  Or is this just an excuse my husband used to shirk any newborn responsibilities?

Livid Lactater

Dear Livid Lactater,

Ah, yes, a play right out of the ol’ new father’s handbook, circa 1950.   I know the book well ­ – as we often joke here in my house – my own husband could have written it!

Here’s the deal: although babies have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, time doesn’t equal understanding in this arena.  I’d say your husband’s reaction may be more common than not. The difference here is, he’s actually said it out loud.

Clearly, the notion that it’s impossible for a father to bond with a nursing baby isn’t true.  My gut tells me he’s using this statement to cover his feelings on the subject.  Perhaps he’s uncomfortable with the idea of nursing; I know my husband is.  No matter how natural it is, it bothers him and always will.  In his mind, it’s kind of like natural peanut butter: it may be better for you, but he’s never buying it.

Or it could be that your husband is intimidated by the bond you and the baby have and just can’t find the right words to express that.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a man didn’t communicate the way we’d like, right?  However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for him to bond as well.

I think some men are secretly terrified of newborns.  I can honestly say I was nervous about bringing my first child home, wondering if I’d know what to do, and I’m the mother!  I can only imagine how a man feels as they leave the hospital with a virtual stranger in the car.

I don’t necessarily believe he’s trying to get out of parenting duties with this one. In my opinion men don’t like trying things they think they’ll fail at.  Granted, they can’t breastfeed, but the idea of forced bonding with anything other than superglue usually scares the daylights out of them.

Since communication is rarely a man’s best asset, I think you’re going to have to take the lead on this one.  It’s pretty obvious he’s feeling left out. Try asking him what you could do to make him feel more included.  If you’re also supplementing with bottle feedings, see if he would like to handle those.  If not, how about asking him to help with bath time or if he’d push the baby stroller around the block so you can get the dishes done.

If none of those work, take heart, you are not alone.  Any mother, who tells you their husband strapped on a fake breast like Robert De Niro’s character in “Meet The Fockers”, is more than likely lying.

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Playdate Predicament

Posted on May 27, 2011. Filed under: Parenting |

Dear Lora,

I need your help!  My son has been invited on play dates by the parent of a friend from school and I don’t feel comfortable with the safety of their home.  Faulty swimming pool gates, steep stairs, treacherous decks. While my son’s classmate is very sweet, I just can’t imagine what could happen if his mother or father wasn’t watching every minute. How should I handle this without hurting anyone’s feelings?

Nervous Nelly

Dear Nervous Nelly,

This sounds more like an episode of Survivor than a play date.  It’s so hard as a parent to let your child go to a strange house, let alone one fraught with safety hazards.  You could be honest, however, that’s the last thing I’d do in this situation, as it could be easily perceived you are accusing them of being bad parents.  We all know there’s nothing worse than that title these days.  I’m not suggesting you lie either.

Here are some ways to skirt around the issue and still be friendly:

Tell them you are a control freak and just aren’t comfortable sending your child to an unknown house.  This puts the burden on you.  I’m actually okay with someone thinking I’m nuts, especially if it keeps my child out of harms way.

You can reverse the offer and ask your son’s friend over to your house for a play date.  Or, take them up on the offer, but you tag along as well.  Tell the other Mom you’ll bring coffee and catch up on some girl talk, while the boys play.  If the house is as dangerous as you suspect, revert back to my first suggestion.  If it’s not, then you can breathe easier.

On the flip side, I will say, my Mom, Norma Jean is amazed at the lengths we go to as parents these days.  She reminds me all the time, when I was born car seats hadn’t been introduced and Kansas didn’t have a speed limit on the open road.  Once, my father was watching me and let me fall down the stairs with a case of coke bottles, thankfully, I was only left with bruises.  I guess we all have those stories, which are funny now because no one was hurt.  I’d imagine, given all of today’s technology, Norma Jean would be just as precautious as we are and those bottles would be on their way to a recycling center instead of the garage.

Bottom line, when it comes to your kids, there’s no such thing as playing it too safe.

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Granny’s New Beau

Posted on May 27, 2011. Filed under: Family | Tags: |

Dear Lora,

My Mom recently moved in with her boyfriend, whom we happen to adore.  The problem is, we have old-fashioned values and want them to be married before our kids see them living together.  I know they will get married eventually, but how should we handle the in-between period without hurting their feelings?

 Old Fashioned Daughter

Dear Old Fashioned Daughter,

Boy, if that’s not a role reversal, I don’t know what is!  It’s interesting that the woman who raised such an old fashioned daughter is the one involved in such a modern relationship.

I’m a traditional gal, so I completely understand where you’re coming from.  How do you tell your children you’d like them to wait until they’re married to move in with someone, if grandma is shacking up, right?

However, there’s part of me that’s very happy for your mom, it’s not easy to find love, especially as we get older.   My father died when I was 11 and my mom never remarried.  I wonder if her life would have been more full with someone in it.  If you ask her, she’ll tell you, the older she got, the harder is was to find someone.

So, what do you tell the kids?  If they’re really young, I’m not sure you need to say anything, other than “grandma has a friend”.  My husband’s grandmother actually had a live-in boyfriend, which his parents told him was the gardener, and he believed them!  He didn’t figure out the truth until he was 20 years old.

With that said, I’m not sure how much you really need to tell your children.  As my husband illustrated, a boy may never clue in, let alone ask.  A girl will likely be more interested, but not as much as you think, especially if your mom and her boyfriend don’t live in the same town you do.  I suggest giving them some time to get to the altar.  If the issue does come up, tell your children grandma’s choice isn’t the one you’d make.  Reiterate your values, explaining why you think it’s important to wait until you’re married to live with someone.

Another thing to consider, older couples may choose to cohabitate, versus getting married for financial reasons.  I’m not an accountant, but I do know there are some tax issues which aren’t always on the side of love.

I say, be thrilled she’s found someone, not to mention, you like the guy!  Remember, your mom raised you, a traditional woman, chances are, she hasn’t lost that side of herself, perhaps she’s just had to take a different a road for this journey.  I believe chances are good you will both meet at the same destination in the end.

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Countertop Crisis

Posted on May 27, 2011. Filed under: Home |

Dear Lora,

Over the winter my husband decided he was going to get some hard water stains out of my guest bathroom’s black countertop.  Without getting my permission first, he used some harsh cleaner that bleached out the color.  I have tried many different polishes to restore it, even using W-D40 several times too.  Nothing has worked.  While he temporarily removed the hard water stains, I feel he permanently ruined my counter top.  Is there anything else I can try?  It’s so embarrassing every time I have guests over!  Please advise!

Spotty Relationship

Dear Spotty Relationship,

There is good news and bad news for this situation.  Let’s start with the bad, if your natural stone has been bleached, you’ll need to contact a professional to correct the spots.  Now, the good news, you actually have a husband who is willing to try and clean something!  If you don’t have the money to get the spots fixed right now, I’d make good fun of this situation when your friends come over, they will get a kick out of the story.   They may be a bit jealous as well, as it’s not everyday that a husband attempts to clean any part of a bathroom.  Most importantly, don’t give your husband too much grief, or he may never help clean again.

In the meantime, here are some ways for your husband to remove those water stains when they happen (and they most certainly will), next time:

Natural Stone – try using stone soap, which can be found at your local hardware store.

Laminate surfaces – use a mild cleaner with a gentle scrubbing agent, like baking soda.  Make sure you rinse with water and wipe the surface dry.

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Competitive Parents

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Parenting |

Dear Lora,

What’s the best way to stop a friend from always competing with my child and theirs? Whether it’s academics, sports or social behavior, I seem to have this friend that pushes her child to be better than mine. She drills me for my daughter’s test scores then pushes her child to achieve a higher grade. It pains me to answer the phone or have play dates with her because I know she will start to ask questions. This has been going on for years. I want this to end but still remain friends.

Miffed Mom

Dear Miffed Mom,

This falls under the title: “We need to pray for her”. It’s a great (and very true) line my Mom has repeated my entire life. In this case, it’s very appropriate. I believe your friend’s actions are based more on her need to feel superior, rather than to confirm her child’s ranking.

I’ve seen this often over the years and would guess your friend doesn’t even realize what she’s doing. It really makes me feel for her, as she’s apparently so unhappy in her own skin, she’s now looking to her child to fill what’s missing.

First, ask yourself if this is a friend you really want to invest time with, or if it’s just too much “noise”, as I call it. The older I get, the more I realize, I have true friends that I don’t get to connect with as often as I’d like. Instead of putting energy into someone who really isn’t a true friend, I’ve decided to focus on the ones who are, and wish the others well.

If this is someone who you want to work on a relationship with, you’ll need to address this issue in a way that sends her a message, but without making her feel embarrassed. Remember, she may not be consciously doing this.

The next time she’s snooping around for your child’s test scores or sports ranking, explain that you’re not comfortable comparing kids. Let her know your goal is to raise a well-rounded, well-mannered child who’s able to navigate social situations with grace. Extra achievements above and beyond that is the gravy, not the meat of your focus as a parent. If she doesn’t stop, quietly make your child unavailable for play dates, as that would not be a healthy environment for your daughter to be exposed to.

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