Carolyn Hax: as the baby’s birth approaches, her husband idealizes the family “village”


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: My husband grew up with all four grandparents living within 10 miles of his family. He never had a babysitter: a grandmother or a dad would just come if his parents needed a break. (His mother was a stay-at-home mom.)

That sounds lovely, but it’s different from my childhood – I had two working parents and only one grandparent living 300 miles away – and it’s different from our own situation. Our first baby is due in four months, and we are several states away from our families.

The husband is convinced that our situation is impossible, irresponsible, cruel to the child, that it will lead to our divorce and misery, etc. and mine is still working full time. Plus, we work in industries that don’t exist in any of our hometowns. There are no jobs for us there.

I know we may not have the village he grew up in, but I think I did fine without it. I’m frustrated with his deciding we’ve failed before we’ve even tried, and his implication that his childhood was the only right path.

I guess I’m looking for a reality check: am I the crazy one? If you didn’t have a blood-related village, did you make it work?

— Deficient village, apparently

Deficient-Village, Apparently: Yeah.

1. I didn’t have a family village and I did well.

2. The “I came out great” standard is completely bullflooie. Some people survived the plague. That doesn’t mean the plague is the way to go.

3. The real problem is your husband’s insistence that something he can’t have is the only thing worth having.

This attitude can make even an all-village childhood completely miserable for your child, because a parent who denies reality will react badly to reality.

Good parents have a working relationship with the idea of ​​not getting exactly what they want and then doing something else with it, often better than they hoped for.

He’s not only about 10 frets behind that crucial starting point, but he’s also sure he’s right where nothing is black and white, which is hard to work with on any subject.

4. Her “can’t articulate” is an opportunity to get to the source, which feels bigger than babysitting. Anxiety, perhaps? This could explain his search for refuge in the familiar and the absolute.

5. If you think he’s receptive to this message, then go for it. Alternatively, consider using a paid arbitrator for marriage counseling.

· As my mother said of Grandma’s Integrated Child Care: “Oh, it wasn’t free. I paid.” There’s a really big trade-off in having people like that in your business.

· But the village does not have to be tied to you. You can and will create your own village right where you are. That’s what his parents did: they found grandparents instead of friends, but they created the care they needed, just like you.

· Can you guys take some parenting classes now where it’s possible to address this issue?

· Seriously, pay someone to watch your kids. I was the integrated grandmother. My health and strength were declining, and my daughter-in-law complained that I wasn’t doing everything she wanted. I had to tell her that I just couldn’t, and she was furious that I had to pay someone.

· Your husband seems at best to have cold feet or depression around the birth. He should see his primary care provider to get tested. Just having the conversation with the PCP can help him feel better.

· It sucks and it’s disappointing that grandparents don’t have the day-to-day involvement that he always thought would happen. Showing empathy can help her take the next step in building the village around you.