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  1. Kids & Family

Tell Me About It: Dad takes baby's 'wrong' gender personally

Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering readers' favorites from her archive.

Q: I recently learned we are pregnant with our third baby, the same gender as the other two. Husband is very disappointed that we aren't having his gender preference, and I am, too, a bit, but mostly trying to stay positive. Husband went from being super-excited about the pregnancy, and suggesting I "take it easy" and get pedicures, offering to cook, etc., to standard basic help around the house. He never asks how I am feeling or offers to step up his help.

We have good communication and he's shared that he feels like less of a man. I am glad he felt comfortable to share but it is very hurtful. We've talked to a counselor who suggested we discuss the possibility of a fourth child, which I am unwilling to do. So now we both just feel stuck and miserable. Please help?

Gender Disappointment

A: Has no one uttered the words "grow the (erf) up"?

Please know that I believe in validating feelings. They are what they are and pretending they aren't never works.

But sometimes they're so wrongheaded, selfish and destructive that they have to be called out as such. As in, "I feel for you — I was nursing a little gender preference, too.

"But look at how you're acting on these feelings: You're generally and plainly not treating this baby as a good thing anymore. And that's BS. This is a person. Our person. No less deserving of our love and excitement than a person of the other sex would have been.

"It's time to get fully onboard with this child. I will not stand by as you treat her (right?) — and now me — as less-than."

The counselor has me banging my head. What if the fourth child is the "wrong" sex again? Or the "right" sex — and the prior three get to witness the kind of love their father is capable of, just not for them? That's trading a can of worms for a crate of them.

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