Q. My husband and I are expecting our first child, which is wonderful, but I am worried that our parenting styles will clash due to different upbringings. As a teenager, I had a strict curfew, didn’t drink until I went to college, couldn’t date without my mom approving the guy, etc. Hubby, on the other hand, is a youngest child, and his otherwise smart and nice parents let him run completely wild, staying out all night and going out of town to college frat parties as a high school student. Starting at age 12, he drank a ridiculous amount, showed up at school events wasted, drove drunk, smoked pot, and did coke.
He agrees that if we have a girl she will be subject to the same restrictions I grew up with. But if we have a boy, he thinks we should behave as his parents did. His argument is, “I turned out OK.” My take is that a lot of bad things could’ve happened, including him getting killed or killing someone, and he has friends from that era who now are wastoids. How do I have this conversation?
A. It is interesting that he’s decided that the way a child should be raised depends on the gender. Do point out that his sexism goes against all time-tested child-rearing advice. All kids need and thrive on fair discipline and boundaries, not just girls. Let us hope you have a daughter, but if not, I hope you prevail in not letting him relive his wild days through a son. If you need backup, book an appointment with a kiddy shrink, and let that person be the neutral (and expert) mediator.
Q. My husband is 13 years my junior, and up until a year ago, that did not bother me. Then I found out that he’s had numerous affairs throughout our relationship. We went to counseling and are doing well. I am still healing and want to trust him. I’m just concerned that he will cheat on me again.
Yesterday at a graduation party, he picked up his sister-in-law. I mean he actually picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. I am positive there is nothing between them, but I did not like it. His reaction was to get angry because I “made something out of nothing.” I just don’t see what would possess a grown man to pick up another man’s wife, although he does fancy himself a weightlifter.
A. It sounds like he was weight training with a real, live dumbbell. And now I’ve got a question for you: If a woman was physically lifted off the ground, what would possess her to wrap her legs around the man’s waist? I saw this happen once, and the gesture — on the woman’s part — said to me that they had been intimate. Let us just say that this was immature and in very poor taste on the woman’s part, so I would hold her the aggressor in this particular situation. I also think that, given your history, your husband’s greeting to his sister-in-law should have been a peck on the cheek. Unfortunately, once a guy is in this particular doghouse, everything he does will be looked on with suspicion.
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