Acting Like A Child With A Child on the Way

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Dear Whit,

This whole situation is driving me crazy! My husband and I have two kids and are expecting a third —all of the same gender. When we found out about the gender of the new one, my husband was disappointed and stopped being excited about the pregnancy. Before that he was always making sure that I was comfortable and well rested, etc. But now he doesn’t seem to care about me, or the expected baby. He even told me that he feels “less of a man” now that we know what the gender is going to be. Can you believe that? I don’t have the slightest idea about how to deal with this because it is so completely ridiculous! What do you think I should do?

Can’t Deal

Dear Can’t:

You can tell him that feeling like “less of a man” makes sense given how he’s acting. Tell him he looks and sounds like the little birthday boy at his party who pouts when he discovers that he didn’t get the present he wanted.

 

Although shaming is a tactic I would hardly ever recommend, in this case it might work. Somehow you need get him to snap out of this self-absorbed, self-pitying, blue v. pink funk. Say it in an unemotional, even-tempered voice so you don’t provoke vehement defensiveness and denial. Just give him the opportunity to view himself in that vividly unflattering birthday-party image. If he starts to escalate the conflict, reiterate that his behavior makes you feel that you have another child to deal with, and then back off.

Once you have given him some time to consider how you view his childish and irrational behavior, you can wait to see if he approaches you about it later. If he does seem to be embarrassed or ashamed, or contrite, ask him to articulate his feelings.  Often when people have to put into words indistinct but indefensible perceptions, impressions, or reactions, they begin to see the weakness of their position.

Listen to him and try to be supportive so that he can see how irrational he is behaving without feeling that he is being attacked for it. He’ll get over his misguided feelings of emasculation more easily if you let him reflect without pressure.

If however, he still feels like “less of a man”, tell him that he can solve that problem in a minute by starting to act more like one. Then tell him you have to take care of the real children.



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