Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: When my hus­band and I mar­ried about 10 years ago, we were both am­biva­lent about hav­ing chil­dren. My hus­band is a kind, gen­er­ous man. I’ve grad­u­ally come around to want­ing kids. I’m 40

now, so it’s ap­proach­ing “now or never” time for me.

My hus­band says he’s will­ing to have ba­bies, if that’s what I re­ally want. But here’s the kicker; he’s will­ing to do things like teach the kid to throw a foot­ball or take them to Dis­ney­land, but says he won’t do things like wake up in the mid­dle of the night to feed a baby, change di­a­pers, do ex­tra laun­dry, etc.

So, ba­si­cally, I’d be do­ing all the dirty work, while he would just get to swoop in and have fun with the kid when it suits him.

I pic­ture my­self be­ing ex­hausted and frus­trated with this sce­nario, but it’s the only one in which I save my mar­riage and also have chil­dren. I al­ready feel re­sent­ful of him be­ing “the good guy” in a child’s eyes, while I’m the bor­ing nag.

Should I go ahead with a baby and hope he’ll get on board once we’re in the thick of it, or should I ac­cept that this is a recipe for dis­as­ter? — Wor­ried

Dear Wor­ried: The sce­nario you de­scribe: one par­ent do­ing the “dirty work” while the other par­ent swoops in for the fun stuff, is ba­si­cally the unar­tic­u­lated, un­bal­anced ar­range­ment that many par­ents have. But most par­ents don’t de­clare their in­ten­tion to be­have this way ahead of time. It just works out that way.

This is not nec­es­sar­ily a recipe for dis­as­ter, but it is a lonely road for a par­ent who is also in a mar­riage.

If you de­cide to have a baby, you should as­sume you will be on your own. Ei­ther you will be on your own with a hus­band nap­ping on the couch, or you will be on your own be­cause your mar­riage won’t sur­vive this stress and re­sent­ment.

What you don’t re­al­ize is this: Care­tak­ing, nur­tur­ing and ac­tual hands-on ac­tive par­ent­ing — that mid­dle-of-the-night stuff you re­fer to — forms the foun­da­tion of con­nec­tion be­tween par­ents and chil­dren. It is very hard work, but many par­ents (my­self in­cluded) wouldn’t trade in many mo­ments of tough, hands-on par­ent­ing. There is a glory and grace in tak­ing care of another hu­man be­ing, and that is what your hus­band would be miss­ing.

Dear Amy: A few years ago I met a very in­tel­li­gent, en­gag­ing wo­man at a so­cial event. We soon struck up a friend­ship. One of many things that we had in com­mon was that she had faced dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause she is African Amer­i­can, and I had faced my own chal­lenges.

Over the last year she was very upset about the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. We were on op­po­site sides. I let it go. She has pres­sured me to buy prod­ucts from her home-based busi­ness. I don’t use her prod­ucts, so I never par­tic­i­pated. She has vented about prob­lems in her life, and when I have of­fered ad­vice, she has been very con­de­scend­ing.

She tends to drink and I think some­times the liquor is talk­ing. Lately she’s in­sisted that, if I re­ally like her, I need to do things such as read cer­tain books on black his­tory, etc.

I re­ally like this per­son, but I feel that I now have to “buy into” our friend­ship. All I ask of peo­ple I care for is mu­tual re­spect and open di­a­logue. Have I lost a friend? — Won­der­ing

Dear Won­der­ing: True friends don’t “make” each other do things. They don’t force their friends to buy cer­tain prod­ucts or read spe­cific books.

How­ever, the flip side of this is also true. Some­times friends pur­chase things they might not want or need in or­der to be sup­port­ive and par­tic­i­pa­tory. And a friend seek­ing to gain insight about what her pal is think­ing and feel­ing might vol­un­tar­ily pick up a book re­flect­ing the friend’s point of view or strug­gle.

It is ob­vi­ous that you see this friend­ship as one-sided. This per­son seems to be de­mand­ing that you prove your friend­ship bona-fides. Maybe the open di­a­logue can start with you.

Dear Amy: Re­spond­ing to “M,” the thin wo­man who was “skinny shamed” by strangers, I cor­rect peo­ple by re­fer­ring to my­self as “fit.” — Fit and Healthy

Dear Fit: Peo­ple of all sizes can ac­cu­rately de­scribe them­selves as “fit.” Thank you for the sug­ges­tion.

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