By Nancy King
Lots about parenthood hasn’t changed–it’s demanding, miraculous, enriching, frightening at times–but lots has changed. Just consider the role of fathers: no longer casual observers, dads are fully engaged partners in the process of raising their children. They attend OB/GYN appointments with their wives, pick out baby gear, and handle the 3:00 a.m. feedings. But with his newly expanded role, Dad 2.0 gets to participate in another parenting ritual: digesting the avalanche of advice offered by well-intentioned authors eager to make the job easier or at least less of a complete mystery. The good news–besides taking over the middle-of-the-night feedings–is that there’s a new book written by dads for dads that’s chock-a-block with wisdom and guidance. DadLabs Guide to Fatherhood is written by the four men behind the DadLabs website, and it’s full of rock-solid advice delivered with a healthy dose of humor. In fact, it seems that their mission is to prove that a guy with a sense of humor can also be a skilled and caring parent. Their motto? “We screwed up, so you don’t have to.” Some of the questions they answer? Why sex is overrated (and other lies new fathers tell themselves), Why washing bottles will not make your balls fall off, and Why other parents’ children are inferior to yours. Hilarious at times–but also seriously dedicated to dads being involved and informed parents from the moment of conception. I can get behind that.
So if the men are becoming equal partners in the parenting process, everything’s hunky-dory, right? Well . . . there’s parenting and then there’s marriage, and the first can be the kiss of death for the second. That’s why Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, authors of I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, decided to follow their first book with a look at why having kids takes such a toll on marital bliss. They interviewed hundreds of married moms and dads to find out why their relationship with their spouse drops to the bottom of (or clear off) the priority list–and what to do about it. There’s a lot about adjusting expectations–no marriage is perfect and parenthood will never be a 50-50 division of labor–and much about the insane pressures of being a “good mom” in today’s world and how that lands marriage in the back seat (or the trunk, behind the car seat). My only gripe is the book’s title, I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper, which focuses on the problem rather than the solution, but the subtitle says it all: Loving Your Marriage After the Baby Carriage. So if your last date night with your spouse was when you were dating, or if you rationalize not washing your hair for another day because it will save you twenty minutes, it may be time for some marital CPR.
DadLabs Guide to Fatherhood: Pregnancy and Year One
By Clay Nichols, Brad Powell, Troy Lanier, and Owen Egerton
$14.95 Quirk Books