Most kids agree that having dad around the house is a definite plus — even if he doesn’t always live at home. Given the variety of home environments and parenting styles experienced by children of the ’90s, there’s no doubt the ones who spend time with Dad reap bigtime benefits.

And new evidence suggests that the more nesting a father does with his child, the smarter that child will be.

The proof comes from research recently published in Child Development that says fathers who spend time with their children raise kids with better language skills and fewer behavior problems.

“As we head into the next century, we’re finding that the traditional family model of a married couple with kids and a dog is becoming less common. Added involvement from a father helps children tremendously,” says Maureen Black, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A father’s unique contributions were measured by a team of researchers who studied 175 3-year-old children from low-income African American families. A father figure was present in 73 percent of the families, and almost all these men had daily contact with their children.

Throughout the study, fathers and mothers were videotaped separately playing with their children and then asked individually about their contributions to the family and about how they felt about being parents.

The study revealed that fathers who were satisfied parents contributed financially to the family and were nurturing while playing with their kids. Their children had higher cognitive and language skills.

When a father lived with the child, the household was more focused on child rearing.

Results of the study convinced authors that fathers remain an integral part of every child’s well-being.

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Each week, dozens of people write to me asking for sexual advice or information. Here are answers to some of the most common questions:

How do I increase the size of my penis?

You can’t. The tissue in penises is not the kind you can pump up with exercise. There’s nothing you can permanently inject or implant into it safely. And there’s no plastic surgery to enhance it. Fortunately, overwhelming numbers of people making love with men insist that penis size does not matter to them.

How do I tell my mate what I want (or don’t want) sexually?

There’s no substitute for clear, direct, simple statements. Most people want more information from their partner, not less. So just tell him or her what you want. Do it in a friendly, non-complaining way when you have plenty of time to listen to each other. And do not bring up other issues during the conversation; write them down for future talks.

How can a woman climax more easily?

Most women climax from stimulation of the clitoris, not from vaginal intercourse. And each woman’s preferences differ. So every woman needs to instruct her partner on how she wants to be touched. Several lessons are usually needed; make them as enjoyable and friendly as you can, rather than mechanical or grim. A lubricant, vibrator, mirror, music or refreshments may help; lessons should be no longer than 30 minutes each.

I think my partner is fooling around with someone else. What are the signs of infidelity?

Don’t play detective or psychologist. If you have evidence or suspicions, tell your partner. Ask for an explanation. If it’s at all plausible, believe it. If you have continued suspicions, go with your partner to a marriage counselor. If you’re in obvious pain, and your mate is innocent, he/she will probably go willingly.


  • Sexual communication starts before you take off your clothes — learn to enjoy getting to know each other better.
  • Remember, there’s no such thing as “normal” sexual preferences. Talk about what you like and dislike, not what’s “right.”
  • Mistrust undermines eroticism. If there’s something you’re uneasy about, clear it up as soon as possible.

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We live in an age of options and solutions.

The average Joe can learn how to participate in the stock market. A 50-year-old homemaker can go to law school. A longtime couple can figure out why one of them keeps falling asleep during sex.

“The pragmatic approach is the only one that makes sense — and that is for everything,” says Bernie Zilbergeld, the author ofThe New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex and Pleasure.

Perhaps because boomers were the first generation to talk about sex compulsively, the subject has become pragmatic and ordinary. That means people can seek practical solutions, like talking about problems or taking a pill.

We live in an era of options, Zilbergeld says. Would you benefit from counseling? Great. Get it. Need a boost for physical or psychological reasons? Try Viagra. Do you wonder if your partner would enjoy something? Try it. Or better yet, ask.

Zilbergeld says progress on the man-woman front is not advancing as quickly as, say, Internet technology. But there is progress.

“We are in an era of growing personal freedom, and people are adopting the religion of pragmatism,” he says.

Zilbergeld says making sexual relationships work calls for communication, conflict resolution, experimentation, assertiveness and sensitivity. It doesn’t mean mystery-enshrouded tantric yoga or hand-me-down ideas from the ancients.

“There are grounds for hope,” Zilbergeld says. “I am cautiously optimistic.”

Even recent history is littered with many outdated models.

“Women were led to believe that a so-called vaginal orgasm was for truly mature women. Guys were killing themselves trying to learn how to give them one. Women felt as though they had to be multi-orgasmic. It was always how things should be. Today, we just say, `Try a bunch of things and see what works. It no longer has to be any particular way.’”

This kind of openness and pragmatism is only possible if people believe, as Zilbergeld does, that sex is good and natural and private.

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