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The Truth About Fatherhood

Wither Friendship?

In the face of marital discord or neglect, men often turn to favorite activities and friends. But new time demands make out-of-home recreation and socializing hard to squeeze in. Spontaneous invitations (as in "Two tickets to the Knicks game tonight just landed on my desk. Want to go?") are tempting but out of the question. Friends may feel rejected; Dad feels resentful. And no emotional support is flowing in.

"Let's put this in the proper context," says Rossant. "I didn't want to complain to my friends or cry to anyone. But I missed the companionship, making plans, doing stuff, going out for drinks. That was all gone." Rossant says that postparenthood, his friends fell into four categories:

 

  • Singles who didn't understand why he couldn't run out to catch a movie

     

  • Couples with kids who kept saying "I told you so"

     

  • Couples who wanted kids

     

  • Couples who didn't

    "The couples who wanted kids saw us as their future. The couples who didn't quickly fell off the map," he says. "A few of my single friends really let me down, not coming to see the baby or sending a gift. I never thought this way before, but suddenly it was shocking that someone I thought was a good friend wouldn't send a gift. You can be sure I haven't forgotten that."

    Some men, when faced with uninterested pals, just let them disappear. "The people we lost touch with either didn't like kids or weren't very close to us anyway," says Feit. "When time is precious, you spend it with people who matter. Having a child makes you see who your true friends are."

    Dads need to understand that new parenthood is a very special cocoon, and it's not necessarily reasonable to expect everyone to crawl in with them. Andrew Postman of New York City, father of Sam, 4, and Charlie, 2, was surprised to find that conversations with childless friends suddenly became stilted. "We quickly learned that every fabulous bowel movement wasn't going to be interesting to everyone," he says.

    Despite the natural shrinking of the pal pool, maintaining friendships is crucial to Daddy's well-being, of course. Ideally, you'll work out a split shift every once in a while  -- Monday, Mom meets up with friends; Tuesday, Dad has a night off  -- so each of you gets support and a chance to renew. Postman remembers going out to play poker with his buddies when Sam was a few weeks old. "It felt good to go out and act like my prefather self," he says. "But after a short time, I found myself missing Sam and wanting to go home. That's when I knew I'd incorporated the change and really become a dad."

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