German family counsellor Mathias Voelchert has spent years working with young families. Here, he reveals some of the biggest difficulties facing new fathers. The first part of the story (items 1 to 5) was published on July 3.
6) The stuff runneth over
Where did the child disappear to? He or she must be there somewhere amid all the wrapping paper, ribbons and cardboard packaging. Kiddie birthday parties are often exercises in excess. Left in their wake are the latest plastic talking toys, played again and again and then some more. Until the next gaggle of gifts displaces them.
7) Is my kid normal? In fact, am I normal?
These are agonising questions, particularly for men who reject traditional gender roles. In times past, says Germany paediatric psychiatrist Horst Petri, it was mainly fathers who were responsible for acquainting children with the world of rules and laws. Many men today aren't guided by the notion of a stereotypical "normal child" to be moulded by rules and punishments.
"They're very attuned to their children," says Voelchert.
8) The battle for authority
"You're not my father! You can't tell me what to do!" This has probably been said, at some time or other, in most patchwork families in which the mother has remarried. Who has the authority, the biological father or the stepdad?
"As a patchwork father, taking a step back can relieve tensions," says Voelchert.
9) Weather's whethers
Dad wonders whether to put a cap on the child before going outside. How about a jacket? Or better no jacket? Thin trousers? Maybe thick trousers instead?
Once he's finally manoeuvred his progeny's active little fingers through the sleeves and walked out the door, someone's bound to say the child isn't properly dressed for the weather.
10) Playground psychology
It's a workday and the father is standing at the playground swings, surrounded by mothers. He can almost hear what they're thinking: "Ha! Another one of those part-time fathers."
Making small talk would be a good way to break into their circle. But how? Other than being a parent, he's got nothing at all in common with them.
Fortunately, his child is on hand to help. And when his child grabs another kid's spade from the sandpit, he'll be drawn into a lively discussion with the kid's mum pronto. – dpa/Sophie Rohrmeier
We're sorry, this article is unavailable at the moment. If you wish to read this article, kindly contact our Customer Service team at 1-300-88-7827. Thank you for your patience - we're bringing you a new and improved experience soon!