Dear Mary Pat,
I’m worried about the relationship between my husband and our kids. They see him as this grumpy guy who walks through the door after work barking orders. They listen to him, and I know they love him, but he acts a little more like a drill sergeant than the loving man I know he is. He’s under a lot of pressure at work and tends to fixate a little too much about shoes at the front door, unfolded laundry or beds not being made. The kids are pretty good about doing their daily chores, and they are generally a big help around the house. If they forget to empty the dishwasher or leave a glass in the sink, there is no reason to make a federal case out of it.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Dear Worried Mama,
Your husband is using the children as a way to vent his frustration, and that will naturally have a negative effect on their relationship. Talk to him about his stress to see whether there are ways he can decompress before he comes home. Exercise is the best way to clear the head. If he were to stop at the gym (think actual punching bag versus your children being his verbal punching bags) or take a walk after he comes home, that might help. Either way, you need to make it clear that taking out his frustrations on the kids isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t really getting to the root of what is bothering him. Maybe he needs to see what can be done at work to lessen his stress, or maybe he needs to even consider another job.