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I don’t love my newborn son

Am I a monster?

Certainly not, says our elder. You can still be a good dad. Leave yourself open to the possibility of loving your son — and stop comparing your feelings to your wife’s!

Dear EWC

I have a son; he’s about 13 months old. I don’t feel anything for him. My wife seems to have instantly bonded with him, but I don’t feel anything. I don’t regret having him, but I don’t love him. Am I a monster? Can I be a good father without love? Will the feeling come later? My son deserves a father that loves him. What should I do?

Grandpa-Matt replies

You are not a monster, and never were! When you say that you don’t feel anything, you might be overlooking some emotional feelings that have little force associated with them but are feelings nevertheless — feelings such as boredom, despair, hurt. To various degrees, they are all identified as negative emotions. There are also some positive emotions one can experience without a lot of energy attached, such as hope, pride, or amusement.
The point is, that whatever thoughts you have about the boy trigger some kind of emotion in you. It is not necessary to become excited or loving to be a good dad. The truth is that babies can be a pain in the butt. They want attention, are inconsiderate, selfish, demanding, and without social skills. Not the kind of people you would want to hang around with for very long as they grow. It sometimes gets worse when they reach the terrible twos, where their behavior tests a person’s patience.

You will find some who love the cuteness that shows up from time to time, and a parent often loves the potential that they see in the youngster. There is a certain pride of parenthood that arises. None of this is required to be a good father. I’d suggest that you leave open the possibilities of loving this kid, just the same as you do when you find yourself liking someone new that you just met at work or wherever.
You might find certain behaviors that the child demonstrates imitate things that remind you of yourself. You will need a sense of humor when they pick up language or mannerisms of yours that they copy.
I found that it gets more challenging when they become teenagers.

Of course, women, with that maternal, protective instinct, do not always see things as we men do. Please don’t compare your experience to your female family members. We are a different breed. A comparison with someone else serves either one of two purposes. It makes us feel wrong or deficient, or make you feel that the other person is wrong or deficient! Comparisons never produce or further any good feelings. They bring up feelings of negativity.
I do believe your son will get and attract the loving that he deserves going through life. Your job is to be a steady, patient, and compassionate teacher of the morals and the standards you deem worthy of a son that carries your name. I am not a therapist, but I have read that Carl Rogers, an often-quoted psychologist, defined loving as “unconditional positive regard” for another. It could be a worthy long-term goal of yours. It is not something that is required immediately.
I’d be happy to correspond with you if there are any new issues that arise with you folks. Good luck.

Letter #: 455065
Category: Children

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