Monday, May 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Father fears for pregnant wife on subway; grandma dogged by name choice

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Soon-to-be father wants wife to stop riding subway to work

Q: My wife is a brilliant, savvy woman who has always ridden the subway to work. She is five months pregnant and I now feel more protective of her than ever before; I want her to find another way to get to work, and she thinks I'm being controlling and silly.

Recently there have been delays, track problems, bizarre accidents, crime in stations, and the usual fare of homeless, drunk and unsavory passengers. I keep imagining her stranded on a platform after dark, or caught amid a bunch of brawling teenagers. Am I out of line here? If so, please help me reorder my thinking.

Don't Want to be a Controlling Husband

A: Your wife's risk of injury or death is significantly higher in a car than on the subway. Even when you factor in crime and "bizarre accidents." Car accidents aren't bizarre; they're daily.

That's one side of the answer. The other side is that you need to get ahold of yourself. I get that you're feeling protective; I think everyone, not just baby daddies and not even just men, is wired to read vulnerability in a pregnant woman. Even though they're not really necessary, holding doors and giving up seats and priority parking are pretty normal responses — at least, it seems that way until you're eight months gone and looking for a seat at rush hour.

Anyway, your impulse is normal. That doesn't mean it's okay to blindly act on it, though.

Pregnant women for the most part are as capable as they were before they were pregnant. Many are even stronger and healthier. Certainly do your part to help her avoid undue risks, but that's what you should do for her when she's not pregnant, and what she should do for you. And, if riding the subway is an undue risk, then we need to get the word out to the monument-chasers, museum-goers and the rest of the hundreds of thousands who ride it on any given day.

Even if you look at your wife as two people you love now instead of just one, these two people have to be in and of the world, both when they're traveling as a unit and after the baby is born. The sooner you wrap your mind around that — in and of the world — and accept that you can't create a bubble around them, the better a husband and father you'll be.

Grandma dogged by what she thinks is a poor name choice

Q: How do I tactfully tell my daughter and her husband that I really do not like the name they have picked for their baby? I have suggested many other names to them, and this name has no special significance (it is, however, the name of one of our dogs).

Anonymous

A: You don't. It's not your child. Besides, you've hinted plenty, and "tactfully tell" is the opening volley of too many in-law wars.

If you had, say, painful associations with the name, then I could see appealing to the couple kindly. Otherwise, you might as well start practicing: "This is my new grandbaby, Scruffy."

Full disclosure: One of my sons is named for a dog (who was named for a relative). An honor, I say.

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