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Who’s the Boss Post 2

2. Make sure to leave space for him to take over when he’s home. This means that he has a lot of time alone with the kids, without your supervision, criticism, expertise or good advice unless he wants it. You’re not doing him any favors by taking over or acting as if his travel excuses him from being an active parent. You’re not doing yourself a favor if you communicate that you really don’t need him to be a full participant in family life, that you can do it all by yourself.

3. Openly discuss your beliefs, values and convictions about child-rearing with Jerry. Try to reach a consensus about the important issues that affect your kids. Get your differences out in the open, whether the subject is Johnny’s bedtime or how to handle Emily’s tantrums. Don’t avoid conflict by having one dominant and one accomodating parent.

4. Talk with Jerry about the patterns of parenting in your own families-of-origin. For example, did you have two parents who were active and engaged partners — or did one parent run the show. What about Jerard? The more you look at the blueprints for parenting from your first family, the more likely you are to think clearly about whether you want to follow old patterns, or to pioneer a new way.

5. Take the focus off the kids for a while and take an honest look at your marriage and how it’s affected by the amount of travel Jerry is doing. You both need to look squarely at how the current arrangement meets each of your needs for separateness and connectedness. Parents commonly keep a narrow focus on the children when there’s an issue in the marriage that needs to be addressed. If Jerry’s travel schedule doesn’t change, how do you see your marriage two or 10 years from now? Would you and Jerard be closer or more distant if he traveled less? Do you feel entitled to ask Jerry to renegotiate a different travel schedule with his boss or to ask him to consider looking for a different job? Have you both bought into the notion that a man’s career is sacred and can’t be tampered with when kids come along?

I’m not suggesting that there is “right solution” that fits all families. Nor am I suggesting that your marriage can’t work if Jerry doesn’t cut down on his travel. I am saying you need to talk honestly about Jerry’s travel and he needs to get into the center of family life.

Be assured that you’re not alone. You’re simply doing what most couples do; that is, you’re following the prescription since the Industrial Revolution, when the categories of “man the breadwinner” and “women the nurturer” were invented and then carved in stone. But you and Jerry take a big risk if you don’t swim against the cultural tide. Keep in mind that you may be killed by a big truck tomorrow or divorced five years from now. If you’re stuck in the current pattern, believe me, it won’t be to your kids’ benefit.

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