A “perfect marriage?”

Question

My husband and I have a perfect marriage, except when it comes to our three children. He is harsh and unreasonable, and he calls me incompetent and too laid back. He refuses to attend therapy and will not allow me to go on my own. Do I have any other options?

Answer

This is one of the most common situations I encounter in my practice. More often than not, severe disagreements about the children reflect troubled relationships rather than “perfect” marriages.

In a good relationship, there is respect, communication, and compromise. These same traits would be applied not only to a discussion about what car to purchase, but also regarding raising your children. In a respectful marriage, your husband wouldn’t think of you as “incompetent” and you wouldn’t view him as “harsh” and one partner wouldn’t prohibit their spouse from seeking professional help.  There is something seriously wrong in your relationship with your spouse.

Begin attending therapy on your own, as the current situation with your husband is unsustainable. If your marriage is as ideal as you think, his love for you will be stronger than his antipathy towards therapy and he will attend the sessions. If he still refuses, that will confirm a more fundamental problem and necessitate other actions on your part.

Question

One of my neighbors takes in foster kids, and they attend our local school. Now that I have children of my own, I find myself trying to avoid this family and discouraging my two girls from playing with these foster kids. I know that these types of children typically come from bad homes and I don’t want my children being exposed to their problems. Please don’t give me a “politically correct” answer. Don’t you think I’m right?

Answer

As a parent you have a responsibility to protect your children from harmful experiences. This means you should limit what they see on television, control their computer access, and carefully monitor their friendships.  However, decisions about other kids should be based upon the behavior of the foster children, not their background. You should apply the same standards of behavior to all children and not just foster kids.

I’ll readily admit that most foster children come from troubled environments, but what you are doing is terribly wrong. You are making a judgment without any knowledge of a foster child’s actual behavior. Why don’t you encourage your girls to invite one of these kids over to your house so you can get to know them, just as you would with any other child?  This is also a good opportunity to have a discussion with your girls about why some children get placed in foster homes, and the importance of judging people on their behavior, not on their looks or family background.

 

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