Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
My boyfriend and I, both 24, were talking about kids yesterday. He said he wanted to adopt three kids. His mother told him he shouldn’t have kids because his dad and his sister have a history of mental illness and he doesn’t need to be passing on those “bad genes.” I told him I thought that was a mean thing of his mom to say. He said even without the threat of mental illness, he’d rather adopt a child who needs a parent. I don’t want to have children until I am close to 30, but is there any hope he will want to have biological children down the road? I feel nervous about being a nag because I may completely turn him off from having biological children.
There’s a lot to address here, so I’ll cover it one point at a time.
First, psychological illnesses can indeed be passed down genetically. Your boyfriend’s worries about potential psychiatric problems are legitimate, and you do him no favors by pushing him on the issue. You may also be shortsighted regarding your own future. You obviously intend to have children with this man. However, if you bear a child with a serious mental illness, you could be talking about 50 years of full-time, at-home parenting rather than the normal 18 to 22 years. In addition, mental illnesses can rob both children and adults of happiness. If this man would rather adopt, more power to him, because there are plenty of kids who could benefit from a loving home.
Second, the two of you are not married, and you did not mention plans to take the leap. Until the guy proposes and you accept, talking about children that you may choose to have six or more years in the future seems premature.
Third, you are right to worry about nagging. Nobody likes being nagged, and it tends to have a negative effect on relationships. In the short run, nagging often works, because you can drive someone to take action simply to shut you up. When this happens, the nagger may simply chalk it up as a victory and move on. But once you get a man (or woman) thinking about things they can do to shut you up, that train can head in an ugly direction. Remember that nagging is nothing more than bullying. It tends to be the weapon of choice for bullies who lack the physical presence to impose their will on someone. Nobody likes a bully. And nobody likes a nag.
Fourth, it is possible that the man could change his mind later in life and decide to have biological children. Given his strong feelings about it at 24, augmented by maternal support, I wouldn’t count on it, though stranger things have happened. Regardless, given that his genes carry a potentially debilitating illness, that choice is his to make. If you push this issue and the man eventually believes his only options are to have a biological child with you or to leave you, he may choose the latter. Unless you are prepared to die on this hill, do not pick this fight.
If your dog bit your child on the face (minor injury), would you get rid of the dog? This dog is very nervous and bit the kid on the upper lip. Would you give the dog to a shelter?
The answer depends in large part on why the dog bit the child. Was he poking or otherwise tormenting the dog? Was the dog unusually stressed because of something the child did? If the bite was provoked in any way, I wouldn’t condemn the dog to a shelter because of just one incident.
Here are some additional questions to ask before you decide:
- Does the dog have a history of biting?
- Did the injury occur because of an aggressive act on the dog’s part, rather than a playful nip delivered with a bit too much gusto?
- Does the child dislike or distrust the dog?
The more “yes” answers you get, the better an idea it is to get rid of the dog.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to email@example.com. If you liked today’s column, click on the Subscribe link to receive e-mail whenever a new column is posted. Don’t worry, it’s free.