Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Wife constantly second-guesses his parenting

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My spouse does not trust me with our kids. I am often criticized for being too rough with our 2-year-old when I wrestle with her, or putting too much food on their plates, or being cruel to let our 3-month-old cry while I do dishes, or being too lax when our 2-year-old decides to try to pick up dirt and bugs when we walk, or ... you get the idea.

I know my wife and I have different tolerance levels for risk. I think that is actually a good thing! She is right sometimes to rein in my more lax tendencies and, in theory, I can also encourage her to maybe not freak out about everything.

But instead it comes off as though she does not think I can parent. While she says that is not what she means and does think I am a good father, she continues to criticize or tell me how to change a diaper (seriously).

This morning as I was dealing with a very upset 2-year-old and my wife was upstairs feeding the younger one, my phone kept pinging me. I knew it was my wife and after I calmed our daughter down, I saw she had in fact suggested I hug and comfort our daughter or that she may be hungry.

 

I did, and she was, and I figured that out on my own.

I don't know why it made me so angry, but it did. I know I can't make my wife change or do anything differently, but I am being driven up a wall. Are there better words I can use to express myself? Or do I have to resign myself to being the bad dad?

-- Spouse

I urge you to find a good marriage counselor and start talking this out with a referee. Such constant second-guessing is serious business and can destroy your marriage, which will be far worse for your kids, as you presumably both know, than parenting on the risk-friendly end of the normal range.

...continued

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