Girl Talk: When Your Husband Thinks He's a Baby Expert
My husband has a 6-year-old from a previous marriage. I gave birth to our son last month. He thinks he knows everything about babies. How do I get him to quit comparing?
Isn't it odd that no matter who you are or where you go, once you show up with a baby, you'll find veterans on their soapboxes? They're always putting their two cents in at playdates, at doctor's offices, or at the park. (Some even write advice columns.) I chalk it up to being one of those paradoxes of parenting: After having a baby, parents quickly learn just how ignorant they are about children, and yet they are the first to volunteer their surefire baby solutions.
Why? Maybe because we vets are so surprised and thrilled when we actually find an answer -- any answer -- that we can't help blurting it out. It makes us feel good that we might be saving another parent from a sleepless night, a trip to the ER, or even just a moment's frustration. And I'm not too modest to say that, yes, it also makes us feel superior. You see, this feeling is such a rare high for a parent (as we are reminded every day how little we know or can control) that we can't help ourselves.
Unfortunately, in your case, this annoying parenting paradox is compounded because the know-it-all is your know-it-all. He is the father of your baby, so presumably he does know a little something about the child. And it sounds like he is using what he knows about his first child to form opinions about his second. To be fair, anyone with more than one kid will do that. It's a survival crutch, really. Who wants to learn everything from scratch again, particularly when you haven't slept more than four hours in the past two days? What you need to do is get your partner to start following his own advice. If he tells you that "babies don't like it" when you do X, hand the kid over and ask to see a demonstration of what babies do like. If he's successful, you'll learn what to do. If he's not (and I'd wager that he won't be more than half the time), he'll learn that his second child is different from his first. And when that happens, you'll be the one wearing the smug I-knew-it face.
Kitty O'Callaghan lives in White Plains, New York, and is the mom of two boys and a girl.