Dear Carolyn: My wife has always been fearful of large gatherings in public and, with the recent mass-shooting events, is starting to justify things like not going to church or the mall. While trying to be supportive and nonjudgmental, I'm having a hard time trying to soothe her and get her to go out and be a part of our community.

It's also a sticking point — I don't want our kids paralyzed in fear thinking it's okay to just keep themselves insulated and isolated from the world, no matter how bad (or good) things are.

Not sure what else I can do if she doesn't see anything wrong with this — since talking to a therapist is something she has resisted because in her mind, I gather, if she does that, it means her position on this is wrong.

— Stuck

Stuck: It’s not right vs. wrong, it’s healthy vs. unhealthy. And maybe that’s too fine a distinction to help her feel better, but your wife’s behavior looks to this layman like anxiety, long on the scene but lately aggravated to a problem level. Fear that is not justified by facts is controlling her choices.

You are nowhere near the “what else I can do” point here, because you are an equal co-parent and you cannot stand by while your wife limits your children’s lives at the eventual risk of scaring or stunting them.

Please tell her you’re concerned about anxiety. Ask her to get screened for it, toward possible treatment to help her feel better. Say you are not judging her or criticizing her, you are concerned about her. Say the shootings are horrific but the risk of any one person being hurt in a crowd is still so small as to be almost negligible — while the risk of an anxious parent passing anxiety to a child is significant.

If she refuses, then you need to be the one who sees a good family therapist yourself, to learn how to help your wife and protect your kids.

Dear Carolyn: I'm newly pregnant with my third child. We had always planned for three kids. And the comments! It seems like no one is happy for us. I've heard everything from being blamed for global warming to wondering why we'd do this to ourselves when we've already got the "perfect" family, etc.

Why the hate for big families? So far, I've just smiled uncomfortably when people comment, but any advice for when "friends" and family do this unsolicited? I guess I'm just disappointed that more people can't just be happy for us.

— Disappointed

Disappointed: Congratulations!

There. I’m sorry others have made things more difficult for themselves, and for you, by trying to come up with more elaborate answers. The simple beauty of the dull answer is due for some renewed appreciation.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s likely not personal. We seem to be at a cultural moment of having big opinions on every damn thing and no real interest in thinking before we express them. It’s not humanity at its best.

In fact, I can’t believe you’d want to bring another child into that environment.

Ha-ha. Kidding.

Congratulations again, and don’t be shy about responding as if people actually said something polite. “Thanks! We’re so excited.”

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