DEAR ABBY: I am 28 years old, married for four years and have an 8-month-old son. For years I knew I wanted children and that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother for as long as possible. I am taking a year or two off from work as a teacher to stay home with my son.
My problem is, I find playing with my son tedious, boring and frustrating. I don't mind caring for his needs, such as cleaning and feeding, but the actual playtime -- the part that is supposed to be fun, stimulating and so important to his emotional, physical and social growth -- bores me out of my mind.
I spend each day waiting for my son to nap so I can read, go online or watch TV, and I count the hours until my husband gets home so I can hand him the baby. I am seriously concerned that something is wrong with me as a mother, especially because I have suffered from depression in the past. Is this a dirty little secret that many mothers keep? -– NEW MOM IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR NEW MOM: No, it is not, and you are right to be concerned. For your sake as well as your son's, it is important that you discuss your feelings with your OB-GYN to make sure you are not suffering from postpartum depression, which is treatable.
You should also consider joining a playgroup, so you will have the company of other mothers. It will give you a healthier perspective than escaping by reading, watching TV or going online.
DEAR ABBY: Have you heard of middle child syndrome? You know, when you are the middle child and your parents seem to spoil and love your older and younger siblings but not you? I'm a 16-year-old girl who has this problem.
I have an older brother and younger sister. My parents love and spoil them but not me. Please don't tell me it's my age or because I'm a girl, because this has been going on ever since I can remember. -- MIDDLE CHILD IN HACKENSACK, N.J.
DEAR MIDDLE CHILD: Yes, I have heard of middle child syndrome. And there are cases where the oldest child -- or the baby -- is favored, but it does not happen in every family.
However, I do not think the phenomenon of parents playing favorites is as common as you would like to believe. Each child is loved for different reasons, but all are valued because every child is unique.
Because you feel you have been overlooked, perhaps it's time to turn your frustration into an effort to excel at something. That way, you will find recognition and validation from both your family and from sources outside it.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 12-year-old boy who is friends with a girl I'll call "Jenny." She is beautiful, and I want to ask her to the school dance, but there's a problem. My best friend, "Matthew," also likes her.
Truthfully, I think I have a better shot at getting her to go with me because I know she doesn't like Matthew. But if she goes to the dance with me, my friendship with Matthew will be wrecked. What do I do? -- J.D. IN FLORIDA
DEAR J.D.: It's a school dance -- why not go stag? That way you can ask anyone you want to dance, and if Jenny likes you better than Matthew, she may choose to spend more time with you than with him.
DEAR READERS: Today is Election Day -- finally. I hope to be the last person to remind you to get out there and cast your ballots!
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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