Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Husband needs to step up, save kids from mom's irrational fears
Duluth, Minn.: My wife is afraid of everything ... flying, confined places, someone breaking into our house and many other things. I used to think it was kind of cute, but with children now, I worry that she is overprotective and not allowing them to grow. They can't do many of the things (ride bikes, walk to friends' houses, or play basketball on a quiet street with cones set up as roadblocks) that the other kids in the neighborhood do. I don't think we can live in fear of minuscule risks, but I get nowhere when broaching this with her. I am mostly concerned about my oldest, 11 (the youngest is 7). Any thoughts?
Carolyn: "Cute"? To be living, at best, half a life, and all of it in fear?
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Please get your wife to a reputable and competent psychotherapist, and spring not just your kids, but her, too, from her neurotic prison.
Anonymous: To Duluth: And stop being so PASSIVE. You worry that SHE's not letting them grow up? Where have you been this whole time? And on what planet was it cute that your wife lives in terror? Or did her exaggerated fears just make you feel more secure and manly?
Carolyn: I'm guessing there was a lot of (false) security sought in role-playing. Home/children/fainting couch was her turf, and protection/breadwinning was his. Terrible trap for all involved.
Duluth again: What makes people assume I'm doing nothing? I let the older child ride bikes, walk to his friend's house, etc. I give the younger child more limited freedoms. I spend hours discussing with my wife that we have to allow our kids to develop. I've encouraged counseling.
But on weekdays, I'm not home, and she's in control (particularly in the summer, since the kids aren't in school). And, when she sees me granting the kids more freedom — I'm very upfront about it — she'll follow our son and/or be furious at me for not recognizing that he could get kidnapped or hit by a car. And though it doesn't stop me, I must admit I start becoming fearful of the guilt if something astronomically unlikely did happen.
Carolyn: Fair rebuttals all. I still believe, though, that the passion of Anonymous is something to take seriously, not defensively.
You are being passive, pretty much giving the "what can I do?" shrug to having a very ill person raise your kids. Really, do you want to take this on, or not?
If you do, then are you ready to make a call, right now, to schedule professional help? For her if she'll go, and for you if she won't?
Will you get the kids into after-school care and summer camps? Let them see you stand up to Mom's tyranny?
Are you ready to put your marriage on the line to save your kids? Are you ready to discuss your options with an attorney?
I'm not typing this as a long way of saying, "Divorce your sick wife." I'm simply trying to poke you in the ribs for resigning yourself to your wife's illness. You're a father and you need to do better. Please don't waste energy getting angry at us — channel it into your family.