November 1, 2021

|

by: admin

|

Tags: advice, Care, Feeding, Parenting

|

Categories: Special Needs Parenting

parenting recommendation from Care and Feeding.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a woman in my early 30s, and my parents divorced (amicably, from my perspective) when I was a senior in high school. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but I just chalked it up to them growing apart as people. I’ve never had a conversation about it with either of my parents, but they’ve always been civil to each other and both attend extended family events like graduations and weddings. My mom remarried relatively quickly so even though I like my stepdad a lot, I’ve always thought he had something to do with it. But recently while talking about my upcoming wedding, my mom dropped a bomb on me and said that my dad had an affair for years and that’s what led to the divorce, and my stepdad didn’t come onto the scene until after the damage had been done. I was so shocked I just ended the conversation quickly, and I haven’t been able to process it. I don’t even know if it’s true. I feel like there’s a lot of detail I’m missing, but honestly I don’t even want to find out more details. I don’t want to think about it at all! What’s done is done and who is responsible for events of more than ten years ago doesn’t make much difference to me. How do I move past this without finding out what really happened?

—No Bad Guys Here

Dear No Bad Guys Here,

Hearing unsolicited details about your parents’ divorce can be unnerving, especially when planning your own wedding. I can understand why you’d want to put a quick end to learning even more of the circumstances surrounding the end of their marriage. But there’s a detail in your letter that makes me question whether or not you really want to put this behind you in a hurry. You mentioned that you haven’t been able to process the conversation you had with your mother.

You can’t erase what you heard, but it’s also understandable not to want to hear more. What you need is a way to process the details you do have, even though you didn’t ask for them. What bothers you most about finding out about your father’s affair? Why do you think that what your mother told you may not be true? Does any of this make you feel differently about your upbringing, your ideas about marriage and commitment, or your relationship with either parent? If so, you may need to have at least one or two more uncomfortable conversations. You could talk to your mom again, on the condition that you don’t want more specific details about what happened, but you would like to discuss how difficult it’s been to deal with what she told you. You could talk to your dad to get his side of your family’s story, if you think that would be worthwhile in helping you process things. Or you could forgo discussing this with either parent and talk to a therapist.

I’d advise against just trying to forget about everything you know now. That already does not seem to be working well, and as you embark on your own marriage, it may be a good idea to resolve your feelings about your parents’.

For more of Slate’s parenting coverage, listen to Mom and Dad Are Fighting.

Dear Care and Feeding,

I have two kids, a daughter, 8, and a son, 5. My son is a picky eater and has very intense likes and dislikes. He likes enough foods and gets enough calories that our pediatrician is not concerned, but trying to introduce new foods has always been a dramatic struggle. My daughter is a much better eater, and generally does not complain about what is being served or trying new tastes and textures.

My daughter’s birthday was last week, and she requested a strawberry cheesecake. She said it’s her new “favorite” after recently trying it when visiting a friend. I have always baked a chocolate cake from scratch for all my kids’ birthdays. Both my kids like chocolate cake and it is an easy, fun tradition. I know my son would not like cheesecake and would throw a fit if we served a dessert that he didn’t want to eat. So I explained this to my daughter, and she was sad, but understood. I made the chocolate cake like normal, everyone enjoyed it and her birthday dinner went off without a hitch.

I mentioned this to a couple of friends, and they think I handled it wrong. They said that by not giving my daughter the cake she asked for, especially for her birthday, I was teaching her that her needs will only ever come second to her brother’s. They also mentioned that they think this is evidence of a larger pattern in which I rely too much on my daughter’s easy, go-with-the-flow nature to mitigate her brother’s tantrums. I was shocked to hear this. It’s only a birthday cake! And yes, my daughter is the easier child and can be reasoned with at a level my son can’t yet, so I do ask her to be a good role model for her brother and to be the one to compromise when their wants are at odds with one another. But these are good skills for her to have in life and will build a strong foundation for her to be a good person as she grows up. My son will get these lessons too, but I’m not going to make him suffer in the meantime for the principle of it when his sister is happy to go along with what I tell her. I’m just not sure if my friends have a point and I’m actually doing something wrong here. Any advice?

—At Odds Over Cake

Dear At Odds Over Cake,

I agree with your friends. Unfortunately, you did handle this incorrectly. Your son’s dietary preferences may be different than your daughter’s, and there’s nothing wrong with making some exceptions for him when meal-planning if that’s the path of least resistance in your household. But this was your daughter’s birthday, not your son’s. She requested a different cake on a special occasion—a day meant to celebrate her. You should’ve gotten her the cheesecake. If your son didn’t want to eat it, I’m guessing you wouldn’t have forced him.

You say that your daughter is naturally easygoing. That may be true, and if it is, it’s all the more reason to reward her now and again for being your more reasonable, compromise-oriented child. It’s also possible that she’s already realized that her needs and wants will come second. Since she was three, she’s had to adjust to being the big sister and the bigger person. Your son is five, and it’s not too early to start teaching him the same consideration of his sibling’s wishes that your daughter has already mastered. That wouldn’t be a case of him “suffering for the principle.” It would be about you, the parent, setting the family precedent that it sounds like you’ve been relying on your daughter to model.

• If you missed Sunday’s Care and Feeding column, read it here.

• Discuss this column in the Slate Parenting Facebook group!

Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m a woman in my early 30s, and my parents divorced (amicably, from my perspective) when I was a senior in high school. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but I just chalked it up to them growing apart as people. I’ve never had a conversation about it with either of my parents, but they’ve always been civil to each other and both attend extended family events like graduations and weddings. My mom remarried relatively quickly so even though I like my stepdad a lot, I’ve always thought he had something to do with it. But recently while talking about my upcoming wedding, my mom dropped a bomb on me and said that my dad had an affair for years and that’s what led to the divorce, and my stepdad didn’t come onto the scene until after the damage had been done. I was so shocked I just ended the conversation quickly, and I haven’t been able to process it. I don’t even know if it’s true. I feel like there’s a lot of detail I’m missing, but honestly I don’t even want to find out more details. I don’t want to think about it at all! What’s done is done and who is responsible for events of more than ten years ago doesn’t make much difference to me. How do I move past this without finding out what really happened?

—No Bad Guys Here

Dear No Bad Guys Here,

Hearing unsolicited details about your parents’ divorce can be unnerving, especially when planning your own wedding. I can understand why you’d want to put a quick end to learning even more of the circumstances surrounding the end of their marriage. But there’s a detail in your letter that makes me question whether or not you really want to put this behind you in a hurry. You mentioned that you haven’t been able to process the conversation you had with your mother.

You can’t erase what you heard, but it’s also understandable not to want to hear more. What you need is a way to process the details you do have, even though you didn’t ask for them. What bothers you most about finding out about your father’s affair? Why do you think that what your mother told you may not be true? Does any of this make you feel differently about your upbringing, your ideas about marriage and commitment, or your relationship with either parent? If so, you may need to have at least one or two more uncomfortable conversations. You could talk to your mom again, on the condition that you don’t want more specific details about what happened, but you would like to discuss how difficult it’s been to deal with what she told you. You could talk to your dad to get his side of your family’s story, if you think that would be worthwhile in helping you process things. Or you could forgo discussing this with either parent and talk to a therapist.

I’d advise against just trying to forget about everything you know now. That already does not seem to be working well, and as you embark on your own marriage, it may be a good idea to resolve your feelings about your parents’.

Dear Care and Feeding,

My boyfriend and I were having a Zoom call with my parents, and they were catching us up on people I knew from my hometown. A friend from high school just had a baby, and my dad, who’d had a few beers, made a comment about how good she must look now, since she’d already had large breasts in high school. I was horrified, both that he would talk about someone who just gave birth like that, but more that he’d apparently noticed my friend’s chest when she was in high school. I remember what I felt like when older men in my life leered at me when I was young, even when they didn’t make a move, and it was a stressful, helpless feeling.

My question is about my boyfriend’s 12-year-old daughter. I don’t want to bring her to my parents’ house anymore, since apparently my dad looks at teen girl’s chests. My boyfriend thinks it’s not a huge deal, and it would hurt her more to be cut off from adults she’s known for years. I said it’s our responsibility as adults to protect her from situations like that, and he said if we protected her from all the old men who wanted to check her out we wouldn’t let her leave the house. This upset me, and we then got in a fight about whether I was being too emotional. I’m not a parent and usually I don’t believe in telling people how to parent, but I just can’t seem to let this one go. Am I overreacting?

—When Is Protective Overprotective?

Dear When Is Protective Overprotective?,

Your concern for your boyfriend’s daughter is valid and understandable. Unfortunately, your boyfriend is right that we can’t protect the young girls in our lives from every grown man who may leer at them or make comments about their bodies. But we can try to ensure that the adults who are only in their lives because of us—our family members, friends, and colleagues—provide a safe environment for them. If we know that they are unwilling or unable to do that, for whatever reason, it makes sense to limit the time our children spend with them. They shouldn’t have to hear “jokes” like the one your father told.

I don’t know that it’s necessary to keep your boyfriend’s daughter from visiting your parents, based on your father’s drunken comment about your high school friend. That’s something it’s best to determine by talking to your father. Tell him that his comment made you uncomfortable enough to consider keeping the underage girl in your life away from him. Make a final decision based on his response to learning that. Pay attention to whether that response is sober and chastened or dismissive and minimizing.

Dear Care and Feeding,

My 17-year-old daughter was driving home from work when a four-year-old boy who was running ahead of his dad, darted out into the crosswalk during a red light directly into her path, and she hit him. Thankfully, he’ll survive, but he has brain damage and several severe injuries that mean he may be permanently disabled. My daughter has been cleared of any blame—there were multiple people who saw what happened and it’s been ruled a tragic accident. My husband and I thought that my daughter would have some sort of “driver’s guilt” or be extremely emotional and need comfort. We tried our best to support her, told her we could talk about it, reassured her it wasn’t her fault, and offered to find a counselor or therapist to talk to. And while she was very shaken up when she came home and cried and talked to us about what happened for a long time that night, it’s only a few days later and she no longer wants to speak to us about it. She seems like she’s trying to force herself to “get over it,” by refusing to even acknowledge what happened and make herself act normally, but I feel like this is a recipe for disaster. I understand if she no longer wants to speak to us about it, but my husband and I firmly believe she should speak to a therapist, even though she’s so far denied it. I don’t want to force her into anything, but I also am terrified about the long-term effects this will have on her mental health. How can I get her to seek help?

—Worried Mom in Washington

Dear Worried Mom in Washington,

  1. Content Locked

    for Slate Plus members

    Dear Care and Feeding: I’m Struggling with Something My Friends Don’t Understand.

  2. Content Locked

    for Slate Plus members

    Dear Care and Feeding: Our Son Keeps Saying He Loves Me More Than His Dad

  3. Dear Care and Feeding: I’m So Worried About My Son’s Plans After High School

  4. Content Locked

    for Slate Plus members

    Dear Care and Feeding: My Son’s Fear of Aliens Has Gotten Out of Control

I’m so sorry this happened, both to the injured child and to your daughter. Seventeen is still a very young age to have to process something so harrowing. Try to explain to your daughter that traumatic incidents like the one she’s experienced aren’t easily forgotten. Make sure she knows that “getting over it” or returning to “normal” don’t need to be her goals. She may not realize how what happened is changing how she sees herself and the world around her, but it most likely is changing her perceptions and it couldn’t hurt for her to talk that through with a professional at some point.

It’s also possible that, while she felt strong emotions on the night of the accident, she doesn’t feel the need to express those emotions in subsequent days. Reassure her that feeling numb or detached is not uncommon, but it’s also an indication that she may need more time to process what happened. Ask her to remain open to the idea of counseling, and encourage her to talk to you about what happened as well, whenever she feels the need to. There’s no statute of limitations on communicating about this; she doesn’t have to see a counselor right away, but if you continue to see signs that she needs to, be sure to present the idea again, offering a list of specific names of therapists in specialties like grief, trauma and PTSD. I hope you all find a healthy ways to manage this together.

—Stacia

More Advice From Slate

I am a high-performing individual at my workplace who also suffers from clinical depression and anxiety. I’ve discussed the basic issues with my boss, who seems vaguely supportive without truly understanding—she’s stated that I should do what I need to do for myself without really seeming to understand that sometimes I just can’t bear to come into work because of these illnesses. This year has been challenging so far, and I’ve taken four sick days this year where I’ve supplied other excuses for not being at work. Do I owe it to my boss/company to tell them why I’m really not there?

close

Don’t miss these tips!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.