Dear Emuna,

My husband owns a very profitable business. He puts in long hours because he’s responsible for its success or failure – and because he really enjoys it. He also has to travel quite frequently. I miss him but I recognize the necessity. However, recently he planned a 10-day trip overseas two weeks after our 5th child is due. I’m beside myself with anger and frustration. He’s either going to miss the birth altogether or leave me to cope with a new baby and the other kids right after I give birth when I will be exhausted and overwhelmed. I can’t believe he doesn’t get it. Help!

Going Out of My Mind

Dear Frustrated Wife,

It’s clear that your husband doesn’t get it. Much of that may be to your credit. You clearly run the household so competently and efficiently that it doesn’t occur to him that you will need his help! It’s probably better to start with an assumption of good will on his part and his belief in you. Nevertheless you need to educate him about your needs. It’s amazing you’ve waited this long!

The secret to doing this effectively will be your tone and manner. If you express yourself harshly, giving vent to your anger and frustration, it’s unlikely he will get the message. As with all communication, use a calm, quiet tone of voice. Start with words of praise for him as a husband, father and provider. Then you can explain how the timing of his next business trip is not exactly convenient and politely ask that he reschedule. You can also explain how much you enjoy having him around for the birth and to greet the new baby. Chances are he wants to be there himself and just hadn’t thought it through. The expression of your desire for his presence because of your love for him and your children’s love for him is likely to be much more effective than an angry demand. There are no guarantees but this approach has the greatest chance of success.

Difficult Child

Dear Emuna,

I have one very difficult child. He is completely undisciplined and flaunts all of our household rules. I’m concerned about his influence on his younger siblings and it’s reached the point where we’re thinking of exercising some tough love and sending him to live out of the house until he gets his act together. What do you think?

Struggling Parent

Dear Struggling,

You’ve left out many details – the age of the children, the nature and degree of the rebellion etc. But the truth is, unless there is serious physical or emotional harm/abuse of the other children at stake, I think my advice would be the same. The best message you can give him and your other children is one of unconditional love. He may lose certain privileges (access to the car for example) but he should never lose his home. I think that if you are concerned for his younger siblings (and I understand that concern), the bigger danger is that they would get the message that if they don’t behave they will be thrown out of the house. Parenting requires endless patience and bottomless love, despite our children’s behavior. Bombard your challenging child with love and remember that you are all only in the middle of the journey. Hang on tight and you should all get to the end safely. And if ever there was a time to pray, to ask for the Almighty’s help, this is certainly it!

 

Drugging the Kids

Dear Emuna,

My husband and I are flying with our 3 young children from Los Angeles to Israel for a family simcha (celebration) in August. I am dreading the experience (the flight, not the simcha!) and I’m thinking of drugging myself (Ambien, Tylenol PM) and/or the kids (Benadryl) to help us cope. What’s your position on this?

Not a Pharmacist

Dear Not a Pharmacist,

Neither am I. I think this is very individual although I wouldn’t do anything without consulting a doctor. I personally don’t like to take drugs except where absolutely necessary and I am very hesitant to give them to children for convenience and not illness. On the hand, if they are ill, I am in favor of modern medicine, antibiotics and, for myself, lots of Advil for neck pain! Am I giving conflicting messages? I’m too much of a control freak to take something that will put me to sleep and many Ambien users have experienced short term memory loss which seems a high price to pay (although sleepless nights seem to lead to short term memory loss as well!) Bottom line: No fixed rule. Speak to your doctor. Use with discretion. You’re the parent and you know what you can cope with or can’t.