If It Were Me | August 2016

By Elizabeth Oates

Got questions?

Dear Elizabeth,

My husband and I have been married for six years, and I just gave birth to my first child four months ago. My parents live about six hours away, and I desperately want to move there to be closer to them. My husband works from home, so he can live anywhere and work for the same company. I have tried several times to talk to him about moving to where my parents live, yet he refuses to entertain the idea. He says he doesn’t want them to invade our space. How can I get him to change his mind? — J.F.

Dear J.F.,

First of all, neither you nor I can change anyone’s mind. We can try to understand their thinking and then appeal to their concerns.

Let me also say it is completely normal and valid for any first-time mom to want to live close to her parents. At the same time, your husband may have some legitimate concerns, so let’s try to understand his point of view. Is his reluctance based on past experiences with your parents? If so, his desire to set a geographical boundary might be both healthy and wise and not stemming from a place of insensitivity toward you but from trying to create a family identity separate from your parents.

On the flipside, your husband’s motivation might stem from a place of control and manipulation. Sometimes manipulative people are difficult to identify because they veil their insecurity and depravity behind a cloak of consideration and love. Do you recognize any of these controlling habits in your marriage?

  • Does your husband tell you what to wear, how to fix your hair, etc.?
  • Does he tell you who can be your friends?
  • Does he decide whether or not you work or go to school?
  • Does he tell you what to eat or make comments about your weight and appearance to determine what you should or should not be eating?
  • Does he threaten you?
  • Does he argue with you until you give up?

Only you can determine your husband’s heart and his true motivation for not wanting to move closer to your parents. If he has always had you and your family’s best interest in mind, then I would trust this time is no exception. Conversely, only you know your parents and their past behavior. Pause for a moment and envision what life would look like if you moved closer to them — not only for you as a mother and a daughter but also for you as a wife. Now envision how life would look for your husband.

If you still feel strongly about moving closer to your parents, I suggest you brainstorm a list of reasons why it would benefit you, your husband, your child and all three of you as a family unit. Then think about the negative effects the move could have on each of you and how you and your husband, as a team, would address those effects. Present this list to your husband. If he sees that you can tackle the difficulties together, he might be more inclined to journey with you.

If you sense your husband might be more controlling than you realized, I recommend you see a marriage counselor together. If he refuses to go with you, I suggest you go alone. If things take a violent turn, I recommend you contact the Family Abuse Center 800/283-8401 or Compassion Ministries 254/755-7640. Blessings to you and your family!

Dear Elizabeth,

I have two children, ages 2 and 5. This month I am sending my oldest to kindergarten, and I am freaking out! I don’t think he is ready for such a big change. How can I help him transition to this new stage of life? — Worried Mom of Two

Dear Worried Mom of Two,

I have to be blunt and ask this question: Is it your son who is not ready for this big change, or is it you?

I wonder if your son has a summer birthday and will be the youngest in his grade. Sometimes younger children are more immature — not in a negative way. They just haven’t progressed emotionally as much as their peers. Or maybe you are concerned that he is lacking academically. If either of those are true, you have several options:

  • You can send him to preschool and hold him back one more year.
  • You can send him to a private school that offers half-day kindergarten and then repeat kindergarten next year in a full-day program.
  • You can send him to kindergarten and express your concerns to the teacher at the beginning of the year. Check in with the teacher periodically and monitor your son’s progress. If he does well, then you know your fears were just natural mama jitters. If he struggles, then you can decide if he needs to repeat kindergarten at his current school or at a different one.

If you decide to send your son to kindergarten, here are some practical ways to help him succeed:

  • Start implementing an early bedtime and wake-up time about a week before school starts in order to establish a routine.
  • Attend Meet the Teacher night so your son can visit the school, his classroom and take a tour.
  • Prior to school starting, play on the school’s playground so he is familiar with the equipment.
  • Read the picture book “Kindergarten Rocks” by Katie Davis.
  • Make sure he gets plenty of sleep and eats a healthy breakfast.
  • If your schedule affords it, volunteer in his classroom.
  • Eat lunch with him occasionally.

On the other hand, if you are the one who is apprehensive about your son attending kindergarten, please hear me when I say those feelings are completely normal. Many moms find it difficult to let their first-borns take these big leaps.

Giving our children a longer leash allows them to learn independence, confidence and a greater sense of self. One of the joys of motherhood is watching our children exercise all the gifts and talents God gave them. Try to view this next stage of life not as a loss but as a gain. You are gaining a child who is growing into a stronger, smarter, more self-assured version of himself. And that means you have done your job well.