While I'm away, readers give the advice.
New parents squabbling over their new responsibilities
Anonymous Mother of Five: Oh wow, that poor baby. Do parents really think a child is just a lumpy pillow who doesn't sense being a drain and unwanted?
A babysitter will only give them a few hours from their burden. It is their entire mindset that needs to change. The child's emotional well-being has to come first. Treating the child like a pawn in what is obviously a big power struggle doesn't bode well for the child or the marriage. I would recommend they:
1. Grow up. You brought the child into the world, not the other way around. Growing up means stepping up to the plate no matter how you feel when your child is in the picture.
2. Treat each other with respect and give the child the kind of respect you want to see from that little bundle when he grows up. Kids never stop watching you. They are like miniature Xerox machines when it comes to modeling behavior.
3. Get some help. Therapy and marriage counseling sound like a necessary thing when you look at what is really being said: "I resent my spouse and the burdens of parenthood because it wasn't the fairy tale I thought it would be." Get real about the responsibilities of parenthood. Having a job, child care and stress — part of everyday life no matter how you slice it. Real happiness from creating a family is a blessing that comes with sacrifice, love and true commitment.
Yes, I sound really harsh, but please remember that you don't get a second chance to raise your children. There will be other jobs, houses, cars, illnesses, MasterCard moments and maybe even spouses, but you will never have the opportunity to do parenthood over.
Carolyn: Thanks. People often seek a loophole with a second family, but that doesn't count.
Thoughts on being rejected by family for being gay
M.: Having gone through the gay-rejection scenario myself as well as other family dramas, I chose to treat people as I ultimately wanted the family relationship to be, to the extent that my hurt feelings and frustration allowed. That doesn't mean that I was perfectly polite or sanguine, but I always maintained a connection of civility. I also endeavored to understand my family members so that I could better accept them for who they are/were.
I think others in this situation should maintain civil communication and a firm bottom line: They are a couple and will be accepted and respected as a couple. If parents cannot accept them, they can still behave properly. Eventually, they will probably come around.
If not, one only "wins" in this situation by maintaining the high ground, not by sniping and retribution. It's better to live as if you are accepted, and not have any regrets in the end, than to indulge in endless cycles of petulant retribution. By drawing a firm line on one's own emotional needs, everyone knows where the line lies for minimal standards of acceptable behavior.
Carolyn: You can replace "gay" with anything that one's parents might not have had in mind for their kid — artist instead of doctor, soldier instead of peace activist, inter-faith/racial/cultural spouse instead of tradition-carrier — and it still applies. Thanks.