Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: When finished with his dinner at home my husband will immediately have dessert. Regardless of whether others are done eating. This has never bothered me until now — our 2-year-old will stop eating and say he is done in an attempt to get sweets.
I don’t mind him having the sweets, but I’d prefer it be after he finishes his main meal. I also can’t stand the whining and sometimes tears when I say “no.” (I’m seven-plus months pregnant with our second, so my “just put up with it” limit is very low.) My husband doesn’t seem to care if our 2-year-old is upset.
I finally said to my husband last night (when he went for a cookie and the 2-year-old started to lose it), “It upsets me when you have dessert while (blank) is still eating. I can’t stand the reaction we are seeing from him right now.” Hubby seemed put off.
I later apologized for snapping. He said he isn’t wild about having his eating habits dictated by a 2-year-old. What do I do/say at this point?
Desserted During Dinner
Oh for flop’s sake.
I’m all for making sure the keepers are running the zoo, but a refusal on principle to bend at all to the forces of utter obviousness spells a long next decade or two for all of you.
Longer, possibly, since having stared someone’s self-absorption in the eye usually makes it hard to go back to not being bothered by it.
If it helps you to make the case for leaving the cookie in the stinkin’ jar for an extra five minutes, please say that, OK, a 2-year-old shouldn’t dictate an adult’s eating habits, but good manners certainly should, and it’s ill-mannered of him to hop to dessert while his fellow diners are still working on their entrees.
I also suggest breaking the dessert-after-every-meal routine because you will be deeply grateful for that later — but, one battle at a time.
Unless this is your husband’s one area of rigid weirdness, I also suggest you start the process of finding a good parenting class and/or good family therapist to have in your quiver for when tougher problems come along. Someone who all but announces he’s not interested in making your life easier, in the simplest way possible, is an excellent bet to make it harder than it needs to be.
Re: 2-year-old: How ironic, from an adult male who insists not only that he gets his cookie, but he gets his cookie THE EXACT MINUTE THAT HE WANTS IT AND NOT A MINUTE LATER. Kettle, meet the pot.
Carolyn is right — get thee to a family therapist. Parenting takes patience and flexibility but, more than that, I get the sense that Dad resents the kid(s) and the changes to his lifestyle. This is a man defending his turf way too zealously.
If he does feel that way, then that is emotional cancer, both for the two of you and for his relationship with your children. Get to the heart of it and deal with it. Good luck.
Indeed. I’ll even grant there’s such a thing as “too zealously” when cookies are on the line, which isn’t a given. Thanks.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.