DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for six years. I am 32; he is 37. We were going to start trying to have a baby this year, but we can’t agree on child care. Before we got married, we agreed that we would want our child to be cared for by a family member, or by one of us. We have no family nearby, are uncomfortable with leaving a baby with a stranger, and astounded at the cost of day care. I always let my husband know that I wanted one of us to stay at home at least during infancy, if our budgets would allow. He agreed that this made sense and would be better for the children. I don’t think he anticipated that I would become the breadwinner. I now earn well over twice what he makes. I think it makes the most sense for him to take a break from his job and care for the children, since the cost of child care would absorb his salary. I would have more to lose when it’s time to re-enter the workforce. My husband, on the other hand, could find the same type of job anytime. My husband says that he would not enjoy taking care of children 24/7 and would feel unfulfilled. I understand these concerns but I’ve suggested several different options, such as me working 10-hour days so that I only work four days a week, giving him Fridays free. Or I could start work extra early and come home early. He didn’t like these suggestions, either. I don’t feel comfortable trying to have babies without having resolved this issue.
DEAR UNSURE: It would be great if you could see into the future and anticipate not only all of the variables, but also how you will feel about them, but families are not built from tidy blueprints, but by one (sometimes messy) arrangement at a time.
Keep in mind that the whole process — the trying to get pregnant, and the pregnancy — takes almost a year (as a best-case scenario). And during that year, you will both change in ways that you can’t anticipate.
You really shouldn’t make decisions like, “We won’t leave our baby with a stranger” until you have a baby and learn that, once you meet great caregivers, they cease being strangers, but become valuable partners. If you become pregnant, you and your husband will meet other expectant parents who will influence you and point you toward ideas and resources.
You seem to have a great career, and I hope that your company gives you ample parental leave time, because it is during this time that you will work some of this out.
It is extremely important that both parents feel that the work they’re doing is fulfilling. If your husband ends up not wanting to be a stay-at-home parent, and if his lower salary would pay for quality child care, then it’s not up to you to dictate his choices regarding his work. Mainly, you should both determine to stay flexible.
DEAR AMY: I just cut off contact with my friend of 16 years. She verbally abused me while I was attempting to help my psychologically troubled daughter. She essentially said that my daughter’s problems are/were caused by the fact that she gets whatever she wants. Amy, I have been a good friend to her. What she did hurt me deeply. I can no longer share a friendship when I never know when I may be subjected to such abuse. Do I owe her an explanation?
DEAR HURTING: Your friend’s opinion doesn’t necessarily qualify as “abuse” in my mind, but perhaps she did so in a way that was particularly unkind.
If you want to sever this friendship over this, then do so, but yes — you should offer an explanation, not necessarily because you “owe” this to her, but because your honest feedback, including how her actions make you feel, will be helpful to both of you moving forward.
DEAR AMY: I was alarmed at your response to “K,” whose husband had betrayed and left her. You questioned her taking antidepressants. You shouldn’t do that.
DEAR ALARMED: Other readers were alarmed when I suggested that “K” should “rethink” her use of an antidepressant, and although I wrote, “Are you depressed? If so, definitely take medication...” I agree with you that this is not a suggestion for an advice-giver to make, but for an individual working with her doctor to make. Thank you.