Carolyn Hax: Advice

There’s more here than a parent issue

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are both late 30s so the decision to have a child is somewhat pressing. I want one but don’t see my partner as a desirable parent, both toward me and the child.

I don’t think he would be physically abusive. It’s more his lack of empathy, his short fuse and quick-to-yell attitude, and his self-loathing and lack of ambition. He is well traveled yet increasingly racist. He is an adult who basically throws a tantrum if he is doing something competitive and loses. He tends to be reactive, and I have a hard time broaching many subjects without preparing myself to be berated.

I’m mostly concerned he will add to my stress. I am also worried he will influence our child to think negatively or to be an entitled, poor loser.

Is it possible for my nurturing to negate any bad “habits” our child would possibly pick up? Or is it a matter of, I made the bed so I should lie in it childless?

Torn on a Baby

For the love of 200-pound toddlers, do not curse a child with this parent.

Forget about negative thinking or entitlement – that’s years down the road. Leap only 9-ish months from this hypothetical conception to envision the tense, angry, confusing home to which you sentence your baby for the next 20 years.

I suppose that’s a “you made your bed” vote, but, for the record, I can’t think of one good reason for you to keep lying in it. It’s time to buy yourself some top-notch counseling sessions, solo, and the best legal help you can find.

Dear Carolyn: I am a woman in my early 20s moving across the country for better job opportunities. I’m very close to my parents and they are not taking the news well. They’ve voiced on many occasions how this “feels personal” and they think I am trying to hurt them in some way.

This could not be further from the truth – I love my parents but I want to move for career reasons and just general personal enrichment. I’ve tried explaining this is the best option for me but they refuse to hear it. How can I communicate that this isn’t a slap in the face?

H.

“There’s a world out there. I want to see it. It’s not about you.”

“It’s not about you” has a face-slappy reputation, granted, but I kind of want to do some slapping. Parent birds who interpret any nest-leaving as a personal affront have that effect on me.

You owe your parents a simple and truthful statement of your intentions, but that’s it as far as explanations go; you don’t owe them a perfectly crafted word-bandage for their wounded feelings. You’re an adult making adult moves to build the life you want to live. Honorable moves at that – you’re not committing crimes or joining a cult.

As such, you have something powerful in your persuasion arsenal: the absurdity of their punishing you for their own success.

Don’t be afraid to spell that out for them. “You raised me to be strong and independent. It'll be tough to be apart, I agree, but I hope in time you'll get past that disappointment and just be proud of the daughter you raised.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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