Hi Aunt Becky!

My husband and I have found out that we are expecting a baby in October after 2 years of trying… I have had my first appointment with my Dr. and my husband and I are super excited! We are getting LOTS of advice and opinions that we haven’t asked for though. We have decided that we are going with a doctor instead of a mid-wife, are not going to baptize the baby, and have made other decisions that my in-laws and family aren’t comfortable with.

His family is into all-natural shit (to the point of not even listening to doctors which is where the advice comes is.. “oh your Dr. said that? No, you should do this instead!!”) and is super religious and mine is just religious and thinks that you are going to Hell if you aren’t baptized… How can we tell them to, you know, leave us the fuck alone to raise our child the way we want to??

Love,

Excited To Be A Mommy!

Well, first things first, Prankster +1, and let me say, CONGRATS! I’m so excited to hear that you’re having a baby, especially since it’s not mine. Because HELLO AWKWARD. Can’t wait to hear more about my new niece or nephew come October.

So, you’re running into the same thing all of us parents do: The Unwanted Advice-Givers. From “that baby needs to be wearing shoes!!!” to “your baby is going to HELL!!!!” you know you’re a parent when people start telling you your business.

Let me offer you a sympathetic cup of (decaf) tea and all of my deepest condolences for this introduction to parenting because it’s not going to stop. Ever. It’s as much a part of parenting as wiping butts and hemorrhoids.

My advice is this: you cannot control what other people will tell you about your children. You CAN control how you react to it. ALL new parents are FURIOUS by the unwanted advice. Rightly so, I should add.

By the second or third kid, you simply stop hearing it.

Why? Because it’s not fucking worth it to your sanity.

I’m pretty sure my mother thinks I’m a shitty mom. My mother-in-law does too. Frankly, they can both eat a hot bowl of dicks for all I give a fuck.

But I used to be outraged by it.

So my advice is to simply smile, nod, and turn the other cheek. Opinions are like assholes (presumably because everyone’s got one) and this is YOUR kid, not theirs. You can kindly tell them to shove their opinion up their puckered pooper with your words, or you can just ignore them. Or some combination of both.

But you are going to have to get used to it. And I’m sorry, because it IS annoying as hell.

Good luck, Prankster +1.

Dear Becky,

I’m in a curious doubt here. I’m the mother of a wonderful 3 years-old girl. I’ve never wanted a lot of kids. I did not enjoy being pregnant.
On the other side, all my girlfriends are having their second babies, and they look sooo cute. And I’m 33.

The question is: I went to my doctor, and asked to change my birth control method (from condoms to pills). Then I decided (by myself) to come back to using a diaphragm.
Am I trying to get pregnant or am I scared of getting pregnant? I REALLY can’t figure that one out… Pleeeease help me!

Well, Prankster, I’m not much of tie-breaker here, but what it SOUNDS like to me is that you feel like you SHOULD want a second baby because that’s what everyone else is doing. Which makes sense. Babies are squishy and cute and stuff. Baby envy is common.

But I’d take a long hard look at your motivation before you go throwing condoms out of the window just because. Trust me when I say that two is a FUCK of a lot more than one. For serious. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with a singleton. I promise.

Aunt Becky,

It seems I’ve come across a situation that even my vast problem-solving skills can’t solve. All the pro-con lists haven’t helped. I’ve asked therapists, I’ve asked my family and most of my friends and now I’m coming to you, ’cause Becky…I’m lost.

I’m a single mother of a beautiful 21 month old daughter. Her father and I split up about a year ago and though our relationship is still friendly, I don’t know what to do about a very glaring and disconcerting fact: he’s an alcoholic.

He pops in and out of our lives with no patterns or modicum of reliability. He can’t keep a job, he can’t finish school; he’s 22 years old and already falling apart. He’s not allowed to be alone with our child, but I just don’t know whether to cut him out of her life entirely.

I really don’t want her first memories to be of her drunk of a father, but I don’t want to give up on him either. I juggle being a young mom of a young child and finishing my senior year of nursing school. I have enough on my plate and I don’t want to have to be dealing with this drama as well. I just don’t know how to deal with him; no answer feels right. My daughter is my world and I love her more than anything so I need to make sure I’m doing the right thing for her. Whatever that is.

–Amber (Who is not witty)

Oh Amber, my heart hurts. My heart just hurts for you. I’m so sorry.

As the daughter of two alcoholics, the baby momma of a semi-unreliable daddy and the wife of a workaholic, I will try my best to answer this. I will also ask my Pranksters to answer this. I know that a lot of them have experience with this, too, and honestly, there is no “right” answer. It’s a shitty situation. Being an adult sucks sometimes.

I don’t think that your daughter’s father is in any place to be a responsible parent right now, and I don’t know that being around him will do your daughter any good. Now that I’m finally dealing with all of the bullshit that I was taught by my parents–when they weren’t “teaching” me anything–I see just how much they destroyed of my childhood.

I can’t get that back. I’ve spent many years forgiving them so that I don’t carry the anger around like a noose around my neck, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t give both of my legs to get a redo on my childhood. I don’t want that baggage, I don’t want these scars, and I don’t think that I could counsel someone to willingly allow that sort of negativity around their child; parent or no.

Kids need consistency, they need normalcy, and they need routine, especially as they get older. You can throw a toddler into an unfamiliar situation and they’ll adapt, but the older a child gets, the harder it is, and the worse it will be for them when the situation unravels.

I don’t think that you have to give up on him as a person, and trust me, I know how awful it is to watch someone swirl the tubes, but you can’t let him drag you and your daughter down. You can’t change an alcoholic. Period.

Before my father was in recovery, our relationship was incredibly volatile. He’d badger me, belittle me, and eventually, I’d leave in tears. I was 26 years old (I am 29 now). As a child, he was the only one who cared about me. As an adult, he seemed to hate me.

I was about to cut him out of my life (before he went into recovery), and the lives of my children, because I could not, as their mother, allow my children to see their grandfather to treat me like an asshole. What was I teaching them by doing that?

This is precisely what I told Daver about the workaholism.

I cannot, in good conscience, teach my children by proxy, lessons that I don’t want them to learn when they are small. There are plenty of times for them to be hurt, disappointed, and left crying. This is not the time for it.

I think that perhaps you need to think about it from that perspective.

And Amber, I do wish you the best. You deserve it. I’m sorry things are so hard right now and I hope that it gets better for you soon. There’s a big fat “EMAIL AUNT BECKY” button on my sidebar. You can use it any time.

————————

Pranksters, as always, please fill in where I left off in the comments.

Aunt Becky out.

———————

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52 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Becky

  • GingerB says:

    You have to turf the alcoholic dad. Studies show that girls who have good relationships with their fathers have happier lives with the partners they choose, but this only applies to GOOD relationships. When we are talking drag you into the gutter reelationships, you are always better off staying the hell away and don’t let him back in her life until he finds sobriety. He really will do more harm than good.
    And if people are telling you (family, church, etc.) not to take her Daddy away, tell them to take him in and care for him, because you can’t.

  • baseballmom says:

    amber: i am the adult child of an alcoholic dad. it was a terrible relationship, from teen to adult. as a small child, he wasn’t to the point of being a full blown alcoholic, but when i hit about 16, it blew up. i never did anything right, we constantly butted heads because i’d call him on his drinking problem and he hated me for it. my brother got perfect grades, never called him on it, so he was the golden child. as an adult, he never approved of anything i did, because i didn’t graduate from a four year college like he wanted me to. i couldn’t catch a break. all i wanted from him as an adult was for him to be a part of my boys’ lives. he would show up to family parties, kids’ ballgames, school functions, but he was always noticeably wasted. it was embarrassing and degrading. we held an intervention, and he went to inpatient, relapsed soon after getting home, and eventually killed himself drinking. i had not let my boys be in contact with him after he relapsed, so they never saw their papa again. they had a lot of questions, wondering why he chose alcohol over them. he died an ugly, painful, sudden, undignified death…especially for someone who was an upstanding citizen, pharmacist, and all around smart man. he was only 63. i beg you to think about your little girl. she needs someone who will lift her up, not drag her down. i have terrible self esteem issues and my heart breaks for you and your daughter. i hope things turn out for the best. if he goes to treatment, be verrrry careful about trusting that it will work the first time, that’s all i can say.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      I was hoping you’d speak up. I know you and I had a similar situation with our dad’s and have struggled with our adult lives. It breaks my heart to read this and I’m always so sorry when I see it all laid out like this.

      xoxo

  • Gunfighter says:

    “they can both eat a hot bowl of dicks for all I give a fuck.”

    Bwaaaahahahahahahahahahaa!

  • Amy says:

    To expectant mother I would like to add (as a mom of four) that the best path is the path of no regrets. Whenever I have a parenting dilemma I try to find a way that will not require apologies to my kids in twenty years. I don’t even hear my family’s advice, unless I ask specific questions, because when the kids are grown they will most likely hold me responsible for the good and the bad choices made along the way. I would also like to add that parenting is not a right or wrong situation (most times) it is just a matter of opinion and usually all choices are ok. I also learned (the hard way) that talking about controversial topics causes nothing but heartache since it is unlikely that we will ever agree, so I keep my opinions to myself and when I get home I do what I think is best.

    I have no experience with alcoholism so I have nothing to add to that, but Aunt Becky I do know about a workaholic husband. I know how hard it is, especially when the kids are young like yours are. I have seen my husband put his work above his family many times, and it made me sad for him and for the kids. But, now that the kids are older (two in high school, and two in middle school) its not as bad. The kids are less needy of me and I have found myself a career that makes me happy and I am glad that we both have a life besides the kids, because soon they will be leaving the nest and I want to have a life together that does not revolve around the kids.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Very, very good advice, Amy. There are no right and wrong decisions in parenting (except, of course, when it comes to safety) and you’re absolutely right. The kids will answer to you, and hold YOU accountable for all the decisions you make.

      And I’m so glad that I DO have things outside my kids as well. My writing allows me to feel fulfilled outside of the three of them, and I hope it will continue to grow and do so, so that I am able to genuinely develop a life for me. As for The Daver, he’d begun to treat us all as though we were awful intrusions upon work. Any time we’d interrupt him–at, you know, 8PM–we’d get our heads chewed off. I wasn’t about to let my children grow up walking around on eggshells, not knowing what to expect from their father’s mood.

      Does that make any sense? It wasn’t just the overworking, it was mood, the attitude, and the way he treated us.

  • Jennifer B says:

    1. Prankster +1 – Aunt Becky has it exactly right. And it doesn’t stop with just the grandparental units. Everyone in the world, even people you don’t know, is going to tell you what to do with your child, and you will just get used to smiling and nodding, then doing exactly what you want.

    2. Prankster wondering if she should consider a 2nd- Ummmm, as a mom of 2, again, AB has it right. I would say make sure that you REALLY REALLY want to have another before taking the plunge. Two is WAY more work than one. Like ripping yourself in half most of the time. Super-duper-multitasking at all times. I love both my son and my daughter, but life was so much easier with just the one. I was an only child and really, sometimes it’s better that way. Don’t worry about what the Joneses are doing, they have nothing to do with your family.

    3. Oh Amber. This is tough, but I have some insight, I think. My parents split when I was 18 months because my father was an incorrigible alcoholic and had passed out while watching me, resulting in the fire dept breaking down our door to save the crying baby(me). So I went through both situations: when I was young, my dad came and got me for a weekend a month or so. He had a new family and I was the “intruder”. It sucked. My little half sister hated me and pulled my hair all the time. But then when I was 5 years old, he mysteriously disappeared. Or not so mysteriously, as he was bad at paying bills and moved a lot. I didn’t hear from him again. I was devastated, probably not helped by my mother angrily telling me what a jerk he was and that he didn’t want me. Yeah, I know that is pretty shitty. Please never do this to a kid. Anyway, when I was 12, I saw him shopping in the mall and walked up to him. It was a pretty happy reunion, and I started visiting him again, on my own request. We are not close to this day, but I can honestly say I’d rather have him IN my life than not. Yes, the drama sucked. Yes, I learned things I didn’t really want to learn. But I don’t feel like it ruined me, at least not anymore. My take is this- make the best of the shitty situation. Let your child be loved by the father, even if it is a supervised situation. You will have to teach your child some things you’d rather not. But it’s not a bad thing to teach your child to see the good in people even while realizing that everyone is flawed. Alcoholism is a sickness, but it’s hard to accept because of the behaviors in the person. But cutting him out of her life doesn’t make him not exist, it just leaves a hole that she will not understand. It will suck either way, but if you ask someone who’s had a missing dad, they’d rather have had the jerk than lived without. (I also have a nephew who’s dad denies his existence and that kid at 11 yrs old is very depressed about lacking a father – school activities are a killer!). I hope this helps a little.

    3.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Excellent insight and I’m SO glad you spoke up. Her situation is NOT a one-size-fits-all and I really wanted other people to give their take on it. I had to say what I felt from my point-of-view, but at the same time, I knew enough of you had been through similar situations that you’d be able to show her what you’d been through.

      xoxo

    • Ana Rodrigues says:

      Prankster number 2 speaking…
      Thank you for your advice.
      You and AB are the first people to EVER tell me that the second is harder… everybody I talked to with two seem to have this crazy fantasy that two is simpler, easier and less stressful than one. Thank you!

      • Your Aunt Becky
        Twitter: mommywantsvodka
        says:

        Oh HELL no. Number 2 makes life WAY more complicated. And you know, there are good things too, but Dave and I will look at each other sometimes and be all, “remember when there was just one of them…?”

  • Julia says:

    1 – Welcome to incipient parenthood. Complete strangers will now feel that it is their right, nay, their *duty*, to give you unwanted and conflicting advice. Just nod, smile, say something totally noncommittal (“Oh, really? What an interesting idea”) and get as far away from them as possible. Good luck and congrats!

    2 – Don’t feel that you need to have another child if you really don’t want to. You’re young – if you change your mind in a few years, then it’s meant to be. But don’t cave in to unspoken peer/society pressure if you’re not sure that it’s the right thing for you. You don’t mention a partner – are you getting pressure from a man to have another baby? Men are (with a few exceptions) notoriously unreliable when it comes to helping with babies, so unless you’re ready to raise two little ones on your own, my advice would be to lavish your love on the one you have and disregard the little voice suggesting having another one.

    3 – Ooh, that’s rough. I would also vote with “get him out of your life” – but then you have a delicate job ahead of you. Not only will you be raising a child on your own, but you’ll need at some point to explain why her daddy isn’t around. Resist the urge to trash him, since that always turns around and bites the nastymouthed parent in the butt; but also, don’t make him sound wonderful/misunderstood/pitiable. It will be hard, but you need to give her enough information that she won’t create a fantasy version of him that either scares her into eventual therapy or makes her want to go live with him in a big fairy castle where they eat ice cream all day and never have to do homework. It’s a hard thing to do. There are lots of sites giving advice about this, but go with your gut.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      I’ll never forget the people who lavished the advice on me with my first…and clucked over “how BUSY I would be” with my third.” But by the third, I was immune to their annoyingness. Something about having all the kids makes you tune their asses OUT.

    • Ana Rodrigues says:

      Hi, I’m Prankster number 2…
      My husband (who is also the father of my daughter), is a very good and participative father. He really does half (sometimes more) of the work of raising her, and I really love him for that. That’s one of the reasons to want to have more, I guess. I don’t only fell the pressure from others, I feel the pressure from myself. I keep wondering “what if”… I’m still undecided, and I guess I’m afraid, but I want this. I will wait a couple of years more, to be sure. When I want this more than I fear the work load, I guess I will be ready.
      Thank you ALL, specially Aunt Becky, for your great help!

  • Angie says:

    The best “unwanted” advice I ever received came when I was pregnant with #1 (of 4). It came from my mum & it still keeps me sane to this day (#1 is now 19 ;p)

    “Love, pick your fights – you will never win them all – & trust your instincts”

    If I know I’m doing the above, I am more than comfortable giving the rest of the world the finger :D

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Oh yeah. That’s probably the best advice you can give a new parent.

      Don’t bother getting TOO upset with anything because the only person it genuinely stresses out is YOU. The more kids you have, the less good it does to upset you all the time.

  • mel says:

    While I agree 110% with Aunt Becky’s advice (how could I not!) I do offer another way of looking at caller#1′s problem. MOST of the shit “suggested” to me by my parents & inlaws got/gets the “thanks for the suggestion, we will take it under advisement” treatment; as Aunt Becky said, it’s way better for your sanity. As for the midwife thing, that is the route I went (because it was right for ME, & the best thing I could have done, despite the in-laws being nervous.) The baptism thing tho… that one I actually gave them. WHY? Well, quite simply, it cost me nothing (everyone still knows that organized religion is not my “thing”) but it made them feel like all was right in the world, AND it will save my kids potential inconvenience when they are older (my BIL was not baptized as a kid, and it became a BIG DEAL when he wanted to marry!)

    Anyhow, I am not suggesting that my decisions are the right ones for you, only that you may want to weigh the cost to you vs the benefit to them, and throw them a bone once in a while.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Oh yes. Sometimes, you just have to do the things that make other people happy JUST TO GET THEM TO STFU. I am well aware of this and have no problem with it. If putting a damn hat on my baby makes someone else happy and doesn’t bother me, I’LL DO IT.

      I don’t fight the battles I would have with my first now because I no longer have the THIS IS MY BAYYYBBEEE DAMMIT thing that I did back then. I don’t know why this goes away, but it does. Right?

  • Paige says:

    To Amber:
    I got pregnant at 19 by a guy with a drug problem. During the pregnancy, I deluded myself that things were going to be fine and we would get married, just because that was what I needed to believe at the time. After she was born, he got a decent job for a while, only to lose it due to random drug testing. We split not long after and the chaos that is visitation began. For a while I would call every week and arrange to bring her to visit him. As time passed, I told him to call when he wanted to see her and that I would bring her over. After that, visits went from weekly, then to monthly, then to every three months or so. When he missed both Christmas and her birthday, I told him not to call again.

    Did I do the right thing? I don’t know. Will she look at me one day and hate me for making her biological father leave? Maybe. But it hasn’t happened yet. She’s 13 now and is completely aware, though I’m not sure how much she really understands, that she has a biological father somewhere. Right now, she seems to have no interest in him, but I’m sure one day she’ll ask who he is.

    What she does have, is a real father. I met my husband not long after I split with my ex, and he has been Daddy since he legally adopted her at age 3. She has a father figure. She has a dad that chose her. While I may not be sure if it was the right thing, I don’t regret it for half a second.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      In this situation there IS no “right” answer, which is why it’s so hard. It’s not a “one size fits all” situation, just one of those where those of us who have been there can chime in and talk.

      You and I have done similar things, altho my ex isn’t a drug user and still sees his kid twice a month for a day.

      I got my son a dad and I don’t regret it. I do wish I’d had the childhood my parents didn’t give me.

      I know you did the right thing. Proud to know you.

      • Paige says:

        The most important thing is that you do what you think is right. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and know for a fact that you acted for your child. Not just for yourself and not for him either. But that you chose for her.

  • ABDPBT says:

    For Amber:

    Alcoholics deal with consequences. There’s nothing you can do to make your ex get sober, but consequences tend to help them along the way faster than otherwise. My advice is to go to Alanon and use the experience, strength, and hope that those people have dealing with these exact kinds of situations to figure out what is best for your daughter. Good luck! (from a sober alcoholic)

  • Jen says:

    To Amber:
    I have no first-hand experience with your situation, so please take my thoughts with a big grain of salt. If you can strike that challenging balance that Jennifer B described: keep him in your daughter’s life with supervised visitation, never talk trash about him, and always explain that he loves her but has a disease that makes him unable to make good choices, you will help her understand reality and how to deal with it. I would also run, not walk, to your nearest AA group. The situation sucks, and there is no good answer, and sometimes you will need to blow off steam somewhere. Let it be with him, not your daughter.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Yes. Making sure that you never, ever talk trash about your ex is VERY important. I’ve never, ever talked trash about my ex to my kid. I just let the situation show who he was as it was. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do, but it is what I did. Good call.

  • Jerseygirl89 says:

    Amber, There are a lot of functional alcoholics in my family and I really wish that someone had explained that to me when I was younger. You can’t make him be sober or stable but you can make her understand that he has a disease but that he loves her anyway.

  • Lauren says:

    *hugs* to all of you. *BIG SQUISHY HUGS*
    Amber, I have firsthand experience with your situation. Actually, I’ve been living it for 6 years. My daughter’s father is an alcoholic, additced to pot, and can’t hold a steady job for more than a year at a time. I haven’t seen him for 5 years and have only gotten $500 in child support for 5.5 years.
    When our daughter was 6 months old, I had to go back to work (despite the fact that we had saved up enough money for me to take 10 months off work) because he quit his job because we “had enough money”. RIIIIGHT. Two people with minimum wage jobs living in an apartment next door to a drug dealer TOTALLY have enough money to just quit their jobs.
    Anyway, when I went back to work, he wouldn’t even stay home with our daughter and watch her. He constantly referred to his fatherly duties as “babysitting” and I was terrified that he would be alone with my baby and someone that he owed money or had fucked over would come looking for him. I lived in a constant state of fear and dread.
    YOU DO NOT DESERVE THAT, AND NEITHER DOES YOUR DAUGHTER.
    Our daughters are growing up in a world where alot of dads are missing; so are alot of moms. Some kids are raised by grandparents, some by aunts or uncles, some by older siblings. Families look so different these days that the outward appearance of NOT having a father around for my daughter never even crossed my mind.
    The important thing is to emphasize FAMILY: The people who are there for you and care about you, no matter what their title in your life.
    Also, I just wanted to say that it will be MUCH easier (I believe, or at least it has been for me) to have NOT having a father be your daughter’s reality instead of having her reality revolve around a guy that hurts her (or you) every time he sees (or doesn’t see) her. I knew that I didn’t ever want to have to watch my daughter’s heart break when her dad didn’t show up for a visit. I was NOT going to have to “fix” that constantly. She is 6 now and just asked about her dad for the first time ever, and we will handle this like we’ve handled everything else in her life–together. Me and my baby kicking the ass of anyone that is stupid enough to NOT love us and think we’re awesome. lol
    It sucks to do it–it’s hard. Aunt Becky is right; sometimes being a grownup sucks. I’m here if you want to talk. Your daughter is lucky to have a mom like you. :-)

  • Dana says:

    Thought I’d offer a little different perspective on Amber’s situation …

    Like Aunt Becky, I grew up in an alcoholic family. My parents stayed together “for my sake” until I was 16. 30 years later, I am still reeling from the consequences of that environment.

    I am now the single parent of a 14 year old son whose father and I were never married. Due to sheer logistics (son’s father moved 1200 miles away when I was 3 months pregnant) my son NEVER met his alcoholic father. On some levels I was grateful. I didn’t have to make the difficult choice of whether to allow contact or not – it was made for me.

    This might sound like a win-win for everyone, but let me share what you what happened. Children – without information – will make up information. My son is CONVINCED his father is a wonderful, loving, caring man who would have taken him fishing, watched him play baseball, been all of the things an “ideal” father would have been. He didn’t know his father so he made up an imaginary father – one who is NOTHING like his father. But I cannot tell him that. It is not my place.

    My son is ANGRY with me for “running his father off” Of course, this isn’t the case, but when confronted with an unknown reality, children will create their own reality, and it will favor the missing parent.

    I think what you are looking for is a choice that will not hurt your daughter. There isn’t one. She will either deal with the reality that she knows, or she will make up her own reality. Yes, you should set healthy boundaries (get professional help with that if needed), but keeping her from him is the WORST thing you could do (IMHO)

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      Also a very, very good point. Kids are excellent at confabulating stories on a complete lack of evidence. I’m sorry, Dana. That’s got to be devastating.

  • Prankster +1, if you want to be polite, a simple “that’s interesting” or “really? I hadn’t heard that before!” or “I’ll have to look into that” response to unwanted advice will go a long way toward keeping the peace with your extended family. It will also (hopefully) keep well-meaning strangers pacified, no matter how much you would rather cram their stupid advice into their stupid faces. Unfortunately, being a parent (or worse, an expecting parent) seems to give people the idea that you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, and your children might end up slobbering slack-jawed in a ditch if they don’t bestow their Almighty Wisdom about bedtime routines upon you RIGHT THIS SECOND. It…it sucks. I’ve caught myself doing it, and promptly tried to swallow my own tongue. I still do it, but I try to limit myself to people who are asking. I try hard.

    Prankster #2: Yeah, I’m gonna back AB’s analysis, here. It’s like when everybody gets a new phone, and your own phone is only six months old and works just great and does everything you need it to do…but…but….they have NEW ones. And I’m also sure that your friends are (I hope) unwittingly putting pressure on you to have another kid like they have, because isn’t that how we stay close to each other, by sharing experiences? Just take a hard look at what you really want, and what you’re really doing. If you really want another kid, go for it. If you just don’t want to be left out…uh…well…we told you so.

    Amber: You’re getting pretty good advice from the peanut gallery here. Alanon pretty much exists to help untangle situations like yours. I may not have personal experience, but I’ve watched cousins, aunts and uncles struggle with it. Boundaries are your friend. Figuring out what your own boundaries are is something a trusted friend/counselor or therapist will need to help you figure out. If you’ve put up ground rules for him and he still can’t follow them, your best bet may be to cut off contact until he can get his life together. If he does get his life together and starts acting like a responsible adult, then he might be able to get back into your daughter’s life. Until then, she should not be subjected to his behavior. When she asks about it, just try to be fair. “Your dad is sick, and he doesn’t treat people very well. I didn’t want you to be hurt. When he gets help for his sickness, and he’s ready to be a good daddy and stop hurting people, then he knows where to find us.” It’s a sad situation, but adding personal attacks (even if they’re true) is only going to make your girl feel worse. Good luck.

  • Amy says:

    I am expecting my second baby and I am due in October too, exactly 12 months after my first son was born. I completely understand how the expectant mommy feels because if I hear “Oh dear, you must have been so surprised!”, or “You are going to have such a hard time for the first couple years”, or (my personal favorite *eye roll*) “Why didn’t you give the first one time to be a baby??!?” I AM GOING TO KILL SOMEONE.
    But honestly- I have come up with something that really works to kind of kill the conversation- take control of it ahead of time. When we’re around my in-laws or people who overload me with unwanted advice, I keep the conversation going about OTHER things that are not the baby. Cooking, etc. Anything other than the lump on my belly. Of course, it does not always work, especially with those shitty belly rubbers on the street, but they just get the “fuck you don’t touch me” glare anyways.

  • Statia says:

    Ugh. I have no advice. Just hugs.

  • Kyddryn says:

    To Prankster+1 – I’m 38, unemployed, uninsured, overweight and pregnant for the second time. It was unplanned. Imagine the rations of shit I’m getting over this one! People feel free to lecture me on everything from fiscal responsibility (because clearly I’m lazy and simply don’t want to work, since the economy had so obviously recovered, never mind all the homes in foreclosure and the repo trucks cruising the neighborhood, duh) to how at my age I shouldn’t be having a baby at all and it would be best if I terminated it, to…yeah, yeah, whatever. I was lucky with my first – no one dared say a damn thing to me because I’d spent more than 20 years of my life raising and teaching other people’s kids, which gave me a LOT of background. I didn’t baptize, didn’t circ, and didn’t give a flying flip what anyone else thought about it. YOU are bearing and raising your little mite. YOU are the ones who will (eventually) have to pay the therapy bills…so YOU are the ones who get to make decisions about the bairn until it’s old enough to secretly go out and get a piercing despite your mandate not to. It’s OK to let people know in any fashion you like that your minds are made up and you’re raising your baby as you see fit, so piss off.

    Doubting Mama Prankster – oh, sugar, I feel ya…and how! While I was raising my one and convinced he was all I’d have, friends were popping ‘em out left and right…and how I wanted a second! I especially wanted a daughter (which guaranteed I had a son the first time and probably will again), and seeing their daughters with frilly little dresses and chubby wee cheeks…made my uterus do the cha-cha. I didn’t have a second, though, because things weren’t right. What I wanted and what was best were two different stories. There is no SHOULD when it comes to timing a baby. Aunt Becky is right…two is exponentially harder than one, especially two in nappies, two toddlers at the table, two having sleep issues or getting sick, two potty training…whew… I’d suggest you have another when YOU want it…and if that’s six years from now, so what? And if you should realize that one is NOT the loneliest number after all, more power to ya.

    Amber…aww, sugar… I grew up with drunks. I was the only non-drinker in the family for a long time. I had to tell my own mother that she wasn’t allowed to have meaningful conversations with me when she was drunk…that if it was important enough, she could say it sober. I was all of 16. No kid should have to feel they come second to the bottle. I can’t tell you to ditch the fellow, nor can I tell how knowing him as he is now will harm or strengthen your child. All I will do is ask you a question that once shattered (for the better) my life: Is this what you want your child to see as normal? I wish you luck, sugar…it’s a hard row to hoe.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

    • Ana Rodrigues says:

      Hi, K!
      Doubting mama speaking.
      Thanks for the advice! Loved the style of your writing too!
      Best,
      Ana

  • Mandy says:

    I’m sitting here, holding my 9 month old son, tears streaming down my face. Knowing I have to do something I’ve been putting off for years. Scared as fuck, but I don’t want my kids to grow up wishing for a second chance at childhood. I feel like you’re the voice of my kids in the future. And I can’t stop crying.

  • Krissa says:

    Dear Aunt Becky,
    All that stuff you said? Ditto.
    You rock!

  • Ann says:

    “eat a hot bowl of dicks” = AHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, Aunt Becky, it’s so funny and so true. I seriously got attacked by my mom and mother in law on my parenting choices. There are some reeeally good reasons why we live 1800 miles away from them. Anyway, it is so frustrating when people insist on telling you how to raise your kid, especially when they’re your parents. What I did was told them once, when seriously provoked, that we were raising her as we saw fit and as long as she was happy and healthy we didn’t want to hear shit from them (I said it a little more nicely than that, but not much). And from here on out, I’m just going to ignore whatever bullshit they try to force on us. It’s sort of comforting to know we’re not alone in this problem, at least.

    Amber, I’m so sorry you’re in this heartbreaking situation. I don’t have experience in this, so I don’t want to give any bad advice, I just wanted to send you a virtual hug. The very fact that you’re looking for ways to resolve the situation shows what a strong person you are and how very much you love your daughter.

  • Excited to be a Mommy says:

    Thanks for all the advice on how to handle their unwanted advice! I have been just kinda letting it go in one ear and out the other… otherwise I think I would end up hating them all!! Since I wrote in we have found out that we are having 2(!!!) little girls! They are also going to be arriving sooner than we thought at 36 weeks, so I guess we will see what happens!

    Amber- I’m so sorry, I don’t really know what else to say. Would he go to treatment and get help? ((hugs)) Does his family see that he has a problem? Maybe they could try to get him to go too?? I don’t have any experience with it, but I am sorry that you and your daughter are going through it.

  • Amber El says:

    So I hop online for a second to check my email, then stumble here to see what’s happening and I see this. Not only have you answered my question, but 900 people have also given me advice. I’m seriously a little emotional right now to see the outpouring of support :)

    My daughter’s dad has refused to seek treatment and has recently started having seizures. His parents are the biggest enablers I’ve ever seen, so there’s no help there… We see him occasionally at best, and usually only for lunch or something like that. Eden knows was she sees. I don’t try to sugarcoat it, because how can I? I also never speak badly of him. I tell her he loves her very very much, but he’s sick right now. She asks about him here and there, but not much. I assume it’ll change as she gets older, but so far things are okay. She has a great relationship with all of her grandparents, and she’s getting quite close with the man I’ve been seeing for the last year, so she’s not lacking in the unconditional love department. :) Thank goodness.

    • anonymous says:

      A dear friend of mine lost her dad to alcohol, and seizures were the beginning of the end. He was in his 40s. If he’s having seizures already, he’s probably in seriously bad health, physically and emotionally. I am glad to hear that there is a positive male role-model for Eden, it cannot be understated how important that is. You can’t make your ex seek treatment, can’t make him do visitation. Just make her life as normal as possible without requiring him as he will likely not live to see her 5th birthday between the seizures and the great liklihood that he also drives while drinking as most hard-core alcoholics will do. Keep on fighting the good fight to stand tall – no badmouthing, lots of love, looking out for her best interests – all the things it sounds like you are already doing. That’s a lot of responsibility for someone your age to shoulder especially with school too. I hope you have some help.

  • To Amber: I was faced with the same decision. My 4-year-old bundle of napalm and joy and I live 2,000 miles away from his alcoholic, inconsisten father – and I couldn’t be happier.

    Over the past 4 years, I’ve had different male friends & relatives spend quality time with my son. My boyfriend is also there for me, as a male role model and friend.

    You’re a single mom. It sucks sometimes, hell, a lot of the time. You’re the only real parent that girl has. Her daddy doesn’t have his shit together enough to be a good father to her right now. So you have to make some hard decisions, and then you have to live with them.

    An unasked for word of caution: Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon are not programs I would recommend to anyone. AA’s “success rate” is actually lower than spontaneous remission, and both groups are (in my knowledgeable opinion) cult religions.

  • Kristin
    Twitter: dragondream
    says:

    Prankster+1 needs to buy this t-shirt…it reads Yeah…Thanks for the ASSVICE. Buh-bye now.

  • I actually wish my mom had trash-talked my dad a little more, or at least been honest with me about why they broke up (he was doing drugs & cheating on her.) I made up a fictional Better Dad and did a lot of needless yelling at my mother for something I think was actually best for us. I’m glad I didn’t grow up with my alcoholic father, and I like the relationship he and I have now that I’m an adult. I got to know him when I was 17, and old enough to handle his flaws.

  • Andygirl says:

    Oh gosh. Okay, for the last prankster- this is a tough decision to make and I’m not a parent, so I can’t imagine what it must be like. BUT, I am the child of a great, but pushover father and a drug addict mother who beat the shit out of me as a child and belittled me and controlled me until I was 27 years old. And more than anything I can never forgive my mother for (and I DID cut her out of my life), I have a hard time forgiving my dad for keeping my mom around. I would gladly have been raised by one competent parent than two where one tore me down as soon as I could walk and talk.

  • Caron says:

    All I will add is that letter #1 and letter #3 are related. Not all advice you receive as a new parent should be disregarded. Aunt Becky said it herself (I paraphrase) … the lessons they taught when they weren’t teaching me anything.

  • Aceia says:

    To the first lady – the best thing to do is smile sweetly and say ‘Thank you for your advice, we will take that under consideration.” and say nothing else and then do whatever the hell you want.

  • Drzibbs says:

    I advise first time parents to let their child eat a hairy lollipop that they find behind a vending machine. It’s what they’re going to do with the second child anyway.

  • sarah says:

    “hot bowl of dicks” is possibly the funniest thing I have ever read. Also? Grossest visual, ever.

    zOMG, the advice & the judgment that comes along w/ not following it? AGONIZING to the new mom. That, and not the kid, was the hardest part of the first year, for me.

    good advice, Aunt Becky!

  • I would tell him that you have decided that you do not want your daughter to grow up with an alcoholic father, and that until he decides to get help, he will not be able to be part of your life anymore. I hate ultimatums, but if he chooses the booze over you and your daughter then at least you know where his priorities are. Also, that way if he does get help and sobers up for a few years, you can allow him to slowly enter your life again, if you choose to. I do not think your daughter will disagree with your decision, when she is older, she will thank you. You are so right Aunt Becky, she has a whole world of hurt ahead of her, let her be a child, and be happy before she runs out of time to be a child!

  • Kelly says:

    This is for Amber. It may not be the best advice, but this is what happened in my home. My oldest daughter’s father started doing meth when I was about 5 months pregnant. It came out of no where, and he was not the type to have done hard drugs like that. I could seldom if ever find him, and/or get ahold of him. By the time she was born, there was another girl pregnant with his child, and he was incarcerated. He was released soon after, and went right back to using. He moved to Texas, from the grapevine someone told me he was in jail again this time for attempted murder and drug charges.

    At that point, I was done. My daughter was not going to have anything to do with him. I did not put his name on her birth certificate, I did not attempt to get child support. He never told his family about our daughter, so no one knew of her. She was my child, and that was it.

    There were a few times where things were hard for her. When she was about 5 or 6 there were some questions asked, they came from conversations at school. I was as honest as I could be about the situation, and she accepted it. When my husband and I got married when my daughter was 7, he legally adopted her. He is her Daddy, period.

    There have also been times where I wonder if he’s straightened himself out by now. Would his parents like to know their granddaughter? She’s such an amazing young woman, who wouldn’t want to know her? But on the other hand, he fucked it up, and you fuck up that bad you don’t get a second chance. My parents still live in the same house they’ve always lived in, and he knew where that was, he’s not trying too hard to find or check up on us either. It’s a hard decision to make, but you have to choose what’s best for you and for your child.

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