Dear Amy: My wife and I have a 14-month-old daughter. We often clash on our parenting styles.
Our daughter is on a very strict schedule. This has worked out well for us — she naps well and sleeps through the night. I’m all for the schedule, but sometimes life should come first. This weekend my wife and I are going to a wedding. My parents love to watch our daughter, but they had already made plans to go to the local homecoming parade. After my wife sent my mom our daughter’s schedule, my mom said that they would take our daughter to the parade, and bring her back for her nap, about an hour later than normal. She said that if my wife wasn’t comfortable with that, it was OK to try and find another option. My wife thought this was rude and that my mom wasn’t respecting her wishes. I feel like my parents are doing us a favor, and putting our daughter down for her nap a little later isn’t a big deal. I want my wife to realize that we can deviate from the schedule on occasion.
I feel like my wife’s issue is more about controlling everything, rather than being about what is best for us and for our daughter.
Grandparent babysitting is free — we would have to pay the sitter $150 or more to watch our daughter all day. We got into a huge fight about this, and now I am not sure what to do or say.
— Dad Needs Help
Dear Dad: I am with you on this. Your mother, also, has handled this well.
Your wife’s reaction is not only unkind, but it also doesn’t bode well for future free babysitting gigs (or for her relationship with her in-laws). Additionally, she needs to realize that when she isn’t present, caregivers will not necessarily adhere strictly to her schedule.
This episode exposes the reality of parenthood: Parenting is a balancing act between control and letting go. Your wife’s overreaction to this is really an expression of her own anxiety. This is not about your daughter’s well-being, but about her own.
Children do best when they can function in a variety of settings. At your daughter’s age, I can hardly think of anything more delightful than being exposed to the colors and joyfulness of a little parade (her ears should be protected from loud parade noises, however). This is an opportunity to start the process of taking her further out into the world. You should discuss these parenting concepts when you are not stressed by a specific issue. Your wife needs to experience the sensation of leaving your daughter in someone else’s care, and having it all work out just fine.
I highly recommend the work of T. Berry Brazelton, whose “Touchpoints” series has helped guide many families through the early days of parenthood.
Read, “Touchpoints: Birth to Three,” co-written with Joshua D. Sparrow (2006, Da Capo Press). Reading this together might help you to compromise.
Dear Amy: I bought my boyfriend a gift for his birthday last year. I recently found out that he is selling the gift (online). I don’t think he even realizes (or remembers) that I bought him that gift.
He even showed me a photo of it, saying that he is selling it along with some other things. He said I could have it if I wanted. It really hurt me that he would sell it to make some quick cash. I am also very upset that he doesn’t even remember that I gave it to him.
I haven’t said anything to him yet, but I’ve been mad and distant from him. I also feel like our relationship isn’t going anywhere. Every single thing he says makes me roll my eyes.
— Don’t Know What to Do
Dear Don’t: I’m rolling my eyes (a little bit — I don’t want them to get stuck) at your own inability (or unwillingness) to simply say — in the moment — “Dude, what the...? Why are you selling the gift I gave you?”
At this point, I don’t think you should even bother. Say a quick goodbye and move on.
Dear Amy: Because local, national and world news is so ... unsettling ... I’ve taken to reading your column, because I find islands of sanity there, as well as compassion, consciousness of human foibles and strengths and the (often unintended) humor that life sends our way.
Thank you for doing what you do.
— A Fan
Dear Fan: Sing with me: “Islands of sanity. That is what we are...”