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Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.
‘Girls always marry someone like their Dad’
The women in my family warned me. ‘Girls always marry someone like their father’, but I honestly never thought it would happen to me. Turns out they were right. Grainne, somehow the cool romantic boy I married has turned into a clone of my Dad.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my Dad. I do Grainne. Just somehow I never thought my husband would morph with age into a carbon copy of his 1980’s parental ways.
For example, my hip hubby now calls looking after our kids ‘babysitting’. The complete reverse of the ‘partnership’ experience he sold me on when we talked about getting pregnant. He has become conservative in his political views (‘climate change protest, why? They should be in school’). Everything – and I mean everything – to do with the kids and our home, has suddenly become my job. The exact situation my mother had while married to my Dad. What my husband is now still responsible for in this ‘marriage of equals’ is a complete mystery to me. Yet he doesn’t seem to understand he has changed.
Despite everything, he claims he is an evolved male to the general public. The crunch point came a week ago at dinner. I organised a baby sitter so we can go out as a couple for a meal with some friends (which FYI I also arranged). Over the starters, he sat back and boasted about what an evolved Dad he is. So different from his father’s generation. While doing this he showed off some pictures of the kids that I had snapped last weekend on my phone. Photos I sent to him while he was away on a bloody sports thing with his mates from work. Images taken when he wasn’t even there. I started to grit my teeth and ordered more wine. A line somewhere had just been crossed.
That night at home I lost my temper. It wasn’t pretty. Since then we have been barely speaking. But was I in the right Grainne? And if so how do we mend this situation (because I do love him, Gra, I just want him to be more like my partner in life, and, a lot less like the stereotype 1980’s Dad that my father had to be). In my Mam’s day, with the marriage ban, she couldn’t even keep her job after having my brother. So, for her, there was no other way. But now, things should be different right?
Is a marriage of equals too much to hope for? Or am I really chained to a clone of my Dad?
Dear married to your Dad!!
Why would you expect your husband to devote any time to you and your children when he obviously has far more important things to do! It is very important that he spends his limited spare time with the ‘lads’ watching other ‘lads’ running around a pitch. After all, when he is old and sick it will be those soccer players deciding which nursing home to shove him into.
We live in a world that is run by, set up for, encourages and rewards narcissistic and sociopathic behaviour. Maybe your children learning this from their dad is a great thing. It will probably lead to them progressing further and more quickly in whatever their chosen career is. Better than mimicking you and becoming a doormat.
Seriously, get your shit together! This is your own doing. You married him, then sat back as he morphed into a selfish prick. It did not happen overnight and maybe you were too tired to notice. You have a limited amount of time to put things right. Otherwise, you will condemn your own children to the same situation. Monkey see monkey do. You watched your Mother allow your Dad to get away with this, and now you are doing the same. So, unless you are happy with your kids continuing the cycle you better get to work.
Our legacy in life can be lots of things. It can be a great piece of literature, a brilliant company, lots of friends, a scientific discovery but there is none you will be judged on as much as your offspring. Maybe he needs reminding of this.
You are going to have to be cruel to be kind. Do your kids do any sports? Do they have a male teacher/coach/scout leader? Start taking a picture of your kids with actual, real #malerolemodel and send them to your husband. There is no way on this earth he will repost them. Now continue this over a few weeks, then start dropping the odd comment like – little Jonny has such a wonderful time at tennis, he admires (insert male coach name) so much! He wants to be just like him when he grows up. Hopefully, this will drive him crazy and he will ‘decide’ himself he needs to be around more.
If not, you are just going to have to say it yourself. You see, as much as you love him now and can accept his behavior…do you think you still will twenty years from now after the kids have grown up and moved out?
First confession – This is the start of Catholic guilt isn’t it?
At some point, while in the junior infant’s classroom, we were ambushed by a nice teacher who looked at us hopefully and said ‘religion?’.
I asked – ‘what happens to the kids who aren’t studying Catholicism?’
‘Oh, they sit at the back of the classroom colouring in pictures while we do stories and different events and trips with the other kids.’
Now, neither the hubby nor myself are practicing Catholics, but, we didn’t want out kid left colouring by himself at the back of the room. Also, we reasoned, how bad could it be? When he became old enough we’d give him a choice about faith. We’d also teach him about consent, that women are equals, and that it’s ok to say ‘no’. He’d be fine we lied to each other, plus what about secondary school? Most of them in our area are Catholic, would he even get in if he wasn’t? So… we smiled back and said ‘sure’ starting on the path that has led us to this. Catholic Communion.
I am not exaggerating when I say Blood Nightmares were had in the run-up to Easter at our house from the priests graphic retelling of the crown of spikey thorns being impaled on a head. Let’s also not get started on the description of how to nail someone by their hands and feet to a cross to die. (The kind of story that would warrant an 18-age rating if it was a film, yet, somehow as it’s a ‘religious’ tale it’s ok).
After surviving this the ‘first confession’ loomed. The issue – the kid has no sins. Seriously he is 8 years old, how many ‘sins’ could he have? So, his granddad suggested he make one up. But no, this would be worse, the sin of lying. Literally every day the stress on his little face is now mounting as is the talk of his ‘promise to God’. If I could go back to that classroom now and select the colouring option I would.
Grainne is there any way back from this or are we doomed to stay on this path for the next 3 years? Can we opt out or is it really too late? Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the family communion get together and the shared milestone. But I feel we should have been smarter earlier and said ‘no’. Invented another event for the little one to have a family shindig rather than giving him the gift of Irish Catholic guilt which lasts a lifetime.
We made a mistake. How can we take this back?
Dear first confession Mom,
Yes, it is most certainly the start of Catholic guilt and isn’t it wonderful. There is nothing quite so important as hours of your child’s schooling being devoted to telling them what a bad person they are.
Born out of original sin, it is all Adam’s fault. Why did he want knowledge in the first place? This is your child’s inheritance to shoulder and so must confess to robbing an apple. I hope this clears things up.
They learn that the ‘holy ghost’ can come to Mary (at 14) and impregnate her, even though she is scared. They learn that if you hang out with 12 men and do good things your Dad will allow you to be nailed to a cross while people stand around and taunt you. What is wrong with that? Every 8-year-old should go to bed with images of bleeding men and child brides in their head. I really think you are sheltering your child too much.
About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.
*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both