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Q. My husband is a totally uninvolved father. He comes home too late to have dinner with us, then watches TV or works all night. And he makes me handle any problem that comes up. How can I get him to change his attitude?
Catherine Marshall Bean, M.F.T., a marriage and family therapist based in Philadelphia, answers:
A. To some extent, the kind of parents we are is determined by the kind of parenting we had. If your mother was a take-charge, do-it-all type, you're likely to be, too. Similarly, if your husband's father left all domestic concerns up to his wife, then that may be the only kind of dad your husband knows how to be.
But just because your husband doesn't interact lovingly with his children doesn't mean he can't learn. I strongly suggest that the two of you consult a couples therapist who can help you explore your childhood experiences and how you can do things differently now.
It's also important to consider the part you may be playing in this. If you have been doing everything, rarely asking for your husband's opinion or criticizing him if he offers one, you may unwittingly be pushing him off the stage. Back away a bit, and he may find the room to move forward.