Fatherhood guilt: Why new dads don’t always love their baby

The Guardian shares authors who want to tell some of the truths behind fatherhood

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A new genre of confessional literature, written by men who admit feeling indifferent or even disliking their young children has ht the shelves.

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Michael Lewis, author of Home Game, An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, said: “I wrote my book because of this persistent and disturbing gap between what I was meant to feel and what I actually felt.

“I expected to feel overcome with joy, while instead I often felt only puzzled. I was expected to feel worried when I often felt indifferent. I was expected to feel fascinated when I actually felt bored.

“For a while I went around feeling guilty all the time, but then I realised that all around me fathers were pretending to do one thing and feel one way, when in fact they were doing and feeling all sorts of other things, and then engaging afterwards in what amounted to an extended cover-up.

“Fatherhood can be demoralising. I usually wind up the day curled in a little ball of fatigue, drowning in self-pity.”

Steve Doocy, the Emmy award-winning broadcaster and author of the forthcoming book Tales From The Dad Side: Misadventures in Fatherhood, believes he knows why fathers are so different from mothers. “New mums are better at parenting than new dads, but there’s a reason why: they are programmed to mother,” he said.

“There is a mega-mother industrial complex made up of thousands of magazines, books, classes and TV shows that instruct women on how to raise the perfect child.

“Across the gender aisle, fathers are usually clueless about what to do. There are no special father TV shows, zero Maxim articles on ‘9 simple cures for nappy rash’, and certainly no practice-dad toys like dolls,” he said.

“A man doesn’t have much of a foundation in fathering. It’s more on-the-job training – and it starts the day he becomes a father.”

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