Dear Neil: My husband seems to be looking for every little thing the kids do wrong, and it’s causing our children to act the same way toward each other. He does this from the moment he gets up until he goes to bed. He never points out the good. What should I do?
Emotionally Drained in Idaho
Dear Emotionally Drained: Very likely, your husband is parenting the same way he himself was parented. As a result he is doing unto his children what was done unto him. And he will, if he continues, make his children feel insecure, inadequate and lacking in self-confidence. Your husband may also be boosting his own self-esteem and self-confidence, because we gain a sense of superiority when we are in the position of calling others on their mistakes or failures. We feel bigger when we make others feel smaller.
What psychologists have known for a long time is that we thrive when we are encouraged to do our best; when we are invited to learn from our mistakes (rather than getting beaten over the head with them); when we are appreciated and rewarded for our efforts; when we feel we are approved of far more than disapproved of; when we gain a feeling of mastery over our environment; when we feel we do far more right than wrong. That’s when we feel good about ourselves, deserving of good treatment and worthy of love and respect.
Your husband sorely needs to rethink his parenting style, and perhaps take a parenting class or read books on the subject. All children deserve to be treated in a loving, respectful manner that helps them to feel that they are competent and capable of succeeding in the world—not children who wind up feeling inadequate, inferior and unworthy. Your husband could help your children—using honey rather than vinager—with how they can grow, learn, improve and become even better. He could then let them know what they do right far more than what they do wrong. His children will turn out more secure, more self-confident and will have better self images if he does.
Dear Neil: I want your advise on whether my boyfriend is bisexual. Here are the facts. I found a book in his room titled How To Make Love To A Man. He likes to watch gay porn, tells me about rape fantasies with other men and buys gay porn. He always wants to have anal sex in addition to regular sex. I think he may have been sexually abused as a young child because he’s made reference to his father having an extremely large male anatomy. What do you think?
Confused in Ontario
Dear Confused: Your facts are quite compelling, and it does sound as if your boyfriend has bisexual fantasies. It’s impossible to know if he has acted on them, but they do appear to be there. If you want to know, ask him to talk about his male rape fantasies and what he would do if he engaged in sex with a man. It’s important for you not to communicate judgment or criticism of his answers. He may tell you more than you’re wanting to hear, but you just may be able to confirm your own suspicions one way or the other.