Q. I am five months pregnant with my first child. My partner is having second thoughts about the baby and whether he wants to be together at all. He says it’s because his father was abusive, that he is scared to be a father, and that he worries he will resent the child for changing his lifestyle. It is hard not to panic about this. I tell him that doubts and worries are normal in this situation, but I feel so scared and alone. On the surface, my sisters and I are shopping for baby clothes and everything is fine. Inside, I feel like things are falling apart. —Crumbling
I am sorry. Yes, it’s common for impending parenthood to stir up all kinds of feelings, but this sounds more serious. He is going to be a father, whether he bolts or not. So, does he want to face his baggage and grow from it, and step up to have a role in this child’s (and your) life? Is he willing to do the work? Sadly, there are no magic words to force him to, but you can express to him that as much as his anxieties are understandable, it is up to him to choose to work to overcome them — and that you have hope and faith that he will try.
I’m most concerned about you, however, because you need support pronto. What is keeping you from confiding in your sisters? Don’t give embarrassment or fear a spot at this table if it keeps you from getting the help you need, including professional counseling, which could be a real boost to you right now.
Keep away from the misogynist
Q. My husband’s brother is very disrespectful toward women, and he always has been. He uses terms I can’t stand, frequently comments on women’s looks and just generally seems to view them as less-than. We have a toddler son and I have stated that I do not want them spending time together when we are not there. It is bad enough when we are there. I think my husband visualizes our son having a close relationship with this guy, because my husband and he are close too. How do I get him to see this is not how I want my son raised? —Unhappy Sister-in-Law
Like every jigsaw puzzle in my house, there’s a missing piece here, and it’s what your husband thinks of his brother’s remarks. He must make decisions as a dad about what messages he wants his son to absorb, and how his own behavior will affect that. Does he ever react to his brother’s remarks, and is he willing to in the future? And how do you normally respond?
The beauty of families is that they have many different personalities — warts and all — and part of what your child can grow up to see is you standing up for your principles against views you disagree with, as well as quarantining him from them when appropriate. But that discussion needs to start at home, with your being as united a front as possible.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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