Dear Mr. Dad
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by Armin Brott
Dear Mr. Dad: I'm the mother of five kids under six and I'm on the verge of divorce. The problem is that I am taking care of the kids single-handedly and my husband hardly lifts a finger. When he does, I compliment him, and I never criticize the way he does things. He's a doctor and works long hours, but am I expecting too much for him to make a meal once in a while, do some laundry, or wash a few dishes? I know men see things differently than women but he seems to be a little extreme. How much help can I realistically expect?
Answer: The short answer to your question is that you should realistically expect a heck of a lot more help from your husband. If you were running a day care you probably couldn't get a license to care for that many kids by yourself.
Sounds like you're doing just about everything right--you're supportive, encouraging, and you've relaxed your standards a little. So now it's time for your husband to step up to the plate.
The two of you need to sit down and talk over your various roles and the expectations you have for each other. If he's working full time, it's reasonable-to a point--for you to do most of the child-related things. But not all, if for no other reason than he's missing out on having any kind of relationship with his kids.
At the risk of stereotyping doctors, are you able to afford to hire someone to help you out part-time? At the very least, you can probably hire someone to come in for three or four hours a week and cook a week or two's worth of meals. My wife and I have done this on occasion and it's wonderful. With all your other responsibilities, it might take you two days to get the same thing done.
Finally, consider going on strike. Your husband may rethink his position when he runs out of clean underwear and has to start making his own lunches and dinners. It's perfectly reasonable for you to tell him that you're overworked and the only way you can make sure the kids are taken care of is to give up a few other jobs.
About the Author:
Armin Brott's bestselling books, including the recent release of Fathering Your School-Age Child, have helped millions of men around the world become the fathers they want to be - and their children need them to be. Armin has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television shows, writes a nationally syndicated column, "Ask Mr. Dad," and hosts a weekly radio show. He and his family live in Oakland, California. For more information visit www.mrdad.com.