Psychologist Andrea Bonior helps a reader who fears her husband is not enjoying his new role.
Question: I worry that my husband is not cut out to be a parent. We are finally past a super-stressful time with our baby, who was born prematurely and had health problems his first year.
But he's the same. He is short with our son, who is just starting to walk and is just a happy little boy, and he doesn't initiate any play with him. He said he had always wanted children, but I have dark fears that he just isn't enjoying himself at all.
Answer: It could very well be true that he is not enjoying himself. But where you see a potentially less-than-stellar dad, I see a probably depressed man (and it's not just these glasses).
You describe an arduous and stressful first year with your baby. My guess is that he has not yet recovered from that. Irritability, apathy and lack of motivation are classic hallmarks of depression, which can rob a new parent of the ability to bond with his or her child. And yes, it can also be maddening to live with.
Convey your concerns that he doesn't seem to be himself, or even happy, and how maybe it's been tough to recover from the earlier stresses. Don't make it a laundry list of the ways he's falling short. He needs help, and you could use some support as well.
* Bonior, a Washington-area clinical psychologist, writes a weekly relationships advice column in The Washington Post's Express daily tabloid and is author of "The Friendship Fix." For more information, see www.drandreabonior.com.