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My Daughter Refuses to Learn Something Different Than This Boring, Repetitive Collection. I’m Dying.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting recommendation column. Have a query for Care and Feeding? Submit it right here.

Pricey Care and Feeding,

Each evening earlier than mattress, I learn to my 9-year-old daughter. She’s in fourth grade, however she has a big studying incapacity and reads at a first-grade stage. A variety of her experiences with studying are irritating and hectic, which is why I wish to hold our night studying time enjoyable and low-pressure by letting her select the books we learn. For the final yr, she’s been obsessive about one explicit ebook sequence. I might by no means inform her this, however these books are the pits. They’re mass produced by a crew of ghostwriters, and each single one has the identical plot. There are at the moment greater than 200 books within the sequence, not together with “specials” and spin-offs, so there’s no manner we’ll run out of them. We’ve examine 30 of those books at this level, and I’m fully over them.

I instructed my daughter that after we end the one which we’re at the moment studying, we must always attempt one thing else for a change. She received very upset and mentioned that she doesn’t need to learn different books. I assured her that we’ll learn extra of her favourite sequence, however we’ll alternate with different books of her selecting. I assumed she was okay with this plan, however she got here dwelling from faculty yesterday with two extra books from this sequence and introduced that she gained’t settle for anything. There’s part of me that seems like I ought to simply suck it up and browse these books if it’s that essential to her, however there’s one other a part of me that thinks {that a} compromise is completely affordable. What’s your recommendation?

—Reluctant Reader

Pricey Reluctant Reader,

I can perceive why you is likely to be tired of this limitless, unoriginal sequence and need that your child would department out a bit. However given your daughter’s struggles with studying and the eagerness with which she appears to need to eat these books, I believe you must follow them for now. Simply suppose it over once more: She’s discovered a ebook sequence that she loves, and also you need to steer her away from them as a result of you discover the books to be annoying? That’s in all probability not going to get you the result you need, which is your daughter growing a long-term a love for studying, regardless of her incapacity.

I don’t suppose there’s something fallacious with making an attempt to introduce new books or sequence to her once in a while, however I wouldn’t demand that she reads one thing else. Pushing your daughter away from these books might end in pushing her away from studying altogether, then no one wins. So long as the books don’t have troubling content material in them, I might recommend sucking it up and supporting your baby in her literacy journey. Which, by the best way, will in all probability meander away from these books organically quickly sufficient.

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Pricey Care and Feeding,

My husband and I received married in our thirties and now have a 1-year-old. My husband was married earlier than, and his dad and mom actually stepped in for emotional help when he divorced. So he feels extraordinarily near them—which isn’t a foul factor. Whereas we have been courting/married earlier than the child, they gave us privateness, however they’ve had boundary points with my sister and brother-in-law and their youngsters.

Now that I’ve a baby, I see how my sister-in-law feels. They don’t come over lots, however they’re our predominant babysitters. They usually don’t take it effectively after I ask them to not do one thing. They change into very petty and make snide remarks. Even having my son 50 hours every week, at household capabilities they’ve to carry him the whole time. They take him from me and when he whines for me, they don’t give him again.

My mother-in-law continuously tells me what to do. My husband doesn’t see an issue and expects me to inform them after I’m bothered. They’ve not too long ago been bare round my baby.
And whereas he’s too younger to recollect now, I’m fearful about when he’s older—particularly since my husband simply instructed me he showered along with his grandfather at 6 years outdated.
I really feel like I’m going insane and am completely unsupported by my husband. Divorce is on my thoughts continuously. How do I get him to see how I’m feeling, and that I’m critically contemplating divorce?

—Dropping My Household

Pricey Dropping,

Wow, this letter actually escalated. I’m glad you could have the sense to comprehend that you just’re being gaslit and brought benefit of. What your MIL is doing just isn’t okay by any means, however what your husband is doing is even worse in my thoughts. He sees that you just’re struggling and sad, however he’s placing the onus on you to speak to his mom? The place is the love and help for you? He must be ashamed of himself for sitting again and permitting his mom to deal with you this manner.

We’ll get again to your husband in a minute, however first let’s discuss how you must deal with your MIL. If she’s concerned in an interplay along with your baby that you just disagree with, merely state, “That is my baby, and it’s not up for debate.” Meaning if she’s holding your son and he calls out for you, your agency response must be, “This isn’t a debate. Please hand over my son, now.” The extra you set agency boundaries, the extra she ought to be taught to take the message.

Additionally, you must strongly think about discovering a brand new babysitter. I get it—I’m positive she prices you nothing … at the least in your pockets. However take into consideration how costly it’s to your psychological well being to have somebody like this continuously in your life. Wouldn’t or not it’s higher to spend a couple of dollars to not should take care of her as a lot?

Final, however not least: You and your husband have to go to {couples} remedy, stat. And as a part of rolling that out, it is advisable inform him that you just’re strongly contemplating divorce if he doesn’t change his methods. If he loves you and values your marriage, he will probably be an lively participant in remedy and hopefully change into a greater husband and parenting companion. If he doesn’t, then you recognize what you’ll have to do.

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Pricey Care and Feeding,

My complete life (35F), gift-giving has all the time been one in every of my love languages. I really like shocking individuals with considerate, enjoyable, and helpful presents, and I get pleasure from looking for the individuals near me. My husband comes from a LARGE household (8 siblings, all of whom are married with at the least 1-2 youngsters) and Christmas is a competition of extra for them, with everybody shopping for presents for everybody. It’s A LOT. I’ve all the time finished my finest to decide on participating, significant, and considerate presents. Whereas not all the time the most costly, I really feel like they’re loved immensely till not too long ago.

My problem stems from the truth that this yr, we’ve seen some monetary difficulties and gained’t be capable to do our normal stage of presents for our nieces and nephews. Sadly, resulting from a number of elements, our two nieces (6 and 10) particularly have change into extremely materialistic and on the eldest’s birthday final weekend, she opened a mountain of presents, regarded round in any respect of us and goes, “That’s it?” I saved it to myself however I used to be appalled. I used to be raised to be grateful, say thanks for every part from playing cards to vehicles, and to all the time write thanks notes afterwards.
I’m doing my finest to instill this in my two boys, however I actually don’t know find out how to deal with my nieces. They’ve by no means mentioned thanks, and sometimes push apart books and craft units for giant splashy gadgets. This yr, we’re limiting ourselves to a strict $25 per child as a result of that’s what our price range permits. I do know we’re gonna hear about it from our nieces/their mom, however wanting telling them we’re drowning in medical debt and don’t have a alternative, I do not know find out how to take care of it.

—Not the Grinch, I Swear

Pricey Not the Grinch,

I don’t need to focus in your nieces proper now. This can be a nice alternative to show your kids about how life can generally throw us a curve ball, and your monetary difficulties are one in every of them. Fancy presents and cash don’t imply a lot with no loving household, and so long as you instill in your boys that you’ll all the time love them, they are going to be simply high-quality. To not point out, there are such a lot of methods you possibly can present like to your youngsters with out spending a ton of cash—household recreation evening, scavenger hunts within the yard, walks all through the neighborhood, Netflix motion pictures, and so on. I do know you in all probability are conscious of this, however I needed to provide you some reassurance that your boys will probably be high-quality even when they don’t have the newest toys or devices this vacation season.

Now onto your nieces, and I believe dealing with them is fairly easy. When she mentioned, “That’s it?” I might reply, “Sure, that’s it. Is that your manner of claiming ‘thanks’ for the present? If that’s the case, that’s extremely impolite.” I might be sure that’s finished inside earshot of her dad and mom so that they perceive how cheesy their baby’s conduct is. If her mother confronts you, be at liberty to enter element in your private monetary state of affairs if you wish to, however I don’t really feel that it’s obligatory. Merely state, “Proper now that is the perfect I might do, and I might hope my niece would be taught to be glad about no matter she receives.” Hopefully that can present her with the wakeup name she must get her youngsters so as, however both manner, I might stand agency in your price range and concentrate on persevering with to instill gratitude in your personal youngsters.

Pricey Care and Feeding,

My husband (we’re each male) has all the time been a rule-follower to an nearly absurd stage. If a recipe says “bake for 12 minutes,” he’ll bake for precisely 12 minutes, even when the cookies are getting black and burning to a crisp. I’ve restaurant expertise, however me explaining that some ovens run hotter than others does completely no good; husband will simply stubbornly reply, “The instructions say 12 minutes.” It was a quirk, however principally an inconsequential one. However now now we have a child, and we simply had an expertise that actually shook me up.

I used to be touring for work and our toddler received sick whereas I used to be away. Once I returned, our son was depressing and crying and clearly felt terrible. My husband had been up all evening, rocking him and comforting him, however the one factor he hadn’t finished was supply Tylenol. His rationale: “I known as the pediatrician and he or she mentioned the rule is to provide ache relievers if the fever is over 102.” Our son’s fever was 101.7. However he was MISERABLE. And my husband wouldn’t relent, as a result of he was targeted on the magic “102” quantity, with no regard to the particulars of the state of affairs. We ended up getting in an enormous struggle, till I known as the physician again at midnight, at which level the physician mentioned, “Oh, in fact if he feels terrible, give him Tylenol to assist him sleep!” However my husband nonetheless thinks he was proper, and that our son couldn’t have been that depressing, as a result of his fever wasn’t 102. His lack of willingness to rethink guidelines and use private judgment when the state of affairs requires it now has me actually fearful, particularly relating to future parenting choices. Ought to I be? Do you could have any strategies?

—Please Break the Guidelines

Pricey Break the Guidelines,

As you already know, most affordable individuals wouldn’t wait till the thermometer reached 102 earlier than giving a baby fundamental drugs. This blind rule-following is certainly a serious concern with a child round, and it doesn’t sound like all quantity of logic or dialogue is breaking by to your husband. I believe you must ask him to affix you in seeing a licensed psychological well being skilled to seek out out what’s behind this doubtlessly harmful intransigence and to start to handle it.

The excellent news is your husband isn’t a foul man and his coronary heart is clearly in the correct place. He simply must let go of those arbitrary numbers and guidelines and be taught to belief his intestine. Be affected person with him and supply help, however you actually need to push for an intervention right here earlier than his rigid mindset causes extra issues.


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