Ask Mr. Dad: Give up the guilt over baby son's fall

Dear Mr. Dad: I've got a six-month-old son who doesn't sleep very well. As part of my calming-him-down-in-the-middle-of-the-night routine, I walk around the house rocking him. A few nights ago, I lay down on the couch with him on my chest. He fell asleep and I didn't want to wake him by standing up so I fell asleep, too. Maybe an hour later I was jolted awake by a thump and crying and I realized that my baby had rolled off of me and had landed on the floor. I picked him up right away, and he stopped crying after about 10 minutes. I called our doctor and the advice nurse asked me a bunch of questions and decided that there was no need to come in. That was reassuring and my son is his usual cheerful self. But I still feel like I've failed as a dad for being so careless in the first place. Do you think I've done any permanent damage to my child?


Living with Children: For misbehavior, lower the boom, not a flyswatter

One of the most common of complaints from today's parents is "we've tried everything." They refer, of course, to having tried numerous approaches to various long-standing behavior problems, all with no success. In many cases, the problems in question have worsened, as if they have developed resistance over time to any and all forms of discipline.


Ex-etiquette: Mom wants to keep ex's name when she remarries

Q. When I divorced 10 years ago, I kept my married name because we had two children and I wanted to have the same last name as my kids as they grew up. I'm going to remarry next month, and I'd like to continue to use my ex-husband's name, even though my children are now 15 and 17. My fiance has kids of his own and completely understands my decision. So does most of my extended family. It's my 85-year-old grandmother, whom I see about two or three times a year, that's adamantly opposed and has told me in no uncertain terms that she will refer to me by my new married name because that's the way it is supposed to be. What's good ex-etiquette?


Lori Borgman: The secret garden on this tour

One of my greatest temptations is stealing flowers from other people's gardens. I've never done it; well at least if you don't count the time I clipped a branch with red berries from a neighbor's tree for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. The branch was overhanging the sidewalk and could whack people in the face, so I don't consider that a theft as much as I consider it performing a community service. And, yes, I am aware such actions are often the gateway to more serious crimes.

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