Parenting Spouse

My wife is parenting our son--and me.

Question

Since we had a child three years ago, my wife has gone overboard on being a mother—to the point where she’s mothering me. She talks to me in the same tone and voice she talks to our son. Plus, whenever he’s around—which is constantly—she insists I call her “Mommy,” while she calls me “Daddy.” It’s creeping me out. How do I make her stop?

Answer

Unfortunately, you can’t make her stop! But you can help her understand your concerns and use this as a springboard to create a stronger marriage and healthier parenting habits. This must be difficult for you, but, at the outset, don’t miss her heart. What are her intentions? It sounds like she loves your son and wants to be a good mom but she has some distorted ideas of what that looks like.

Numerous research studies show that the marital satisfaction in many marriages significantly decreases after the birth of the first child. The birth of the first child always involves a redefinition of roles, new decisions and a place where the different parenting styles we brought from our own families of origin can collide head-on. Unless couples understand this challenging stage in the family life cycle, they can set themselves up for years of heartache.

Why is she so attached to your son? In many (though not every) cases it’s because the husband and wife didn’t have a lot of intimacy before the child was born and now there is someone she can love and receive love back from. One of the most important gifts parents can give their kids is a great marriage. Make sure your wife knows she is precious in your sight. Look for opportunities to cherish and nourish her. Tell your wife that you love her and you miss her. Let her know that an important part of being a great dad is being a great husband and that’s what you are committed to.

Some women assume they are, by virtue of being female, the parenting “experts” and that men, by virtue of being male, don’t know much about parenting and in some cases that’s true. Let her see how important being a great father is to you. Get up at night with your son. Change his diapers. Rock him to sleep. Go to your local bookstore and find a couple of books on being a dad. Talk with other couples who have recently had their first child. See if there is a workshop at a local church for first-time parents.

With God’s help, you can turn every frustrating thought and feeling into a reminder to pray for your wife, your son and your marriage and to put your good intentions into action.

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