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Bassi Gruen

My husband earns a decent living and learns with my boys but he’s never washed a dish, vacuumed a floor, or bathed a baby… He realizes I can’t do it all alone, so he keeps pressuring my children to do more and more cleaning. My children are getting old enough to realize the hypocrisy of his do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do message and there’s some eye rolling and snide comments between them. I know I should stand up for my husband, but have no idea what to say because, to be honest, I entirely agree with them.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rabbi Ilan Feldman

You are to be commended for trying to apply the brakes before your family hits an emotional brick wall with consequences that go far beyond the issue of sharing the burden of household duties. You seem to sense that a parent who subtly agrees with her children about their father’s failings can be assured that her children, too, will nurse frustrations with the people in their lives — including their life partners — by seeking confirmation of their complaints from others.

There’s a way for you to turn this challenge into a two-pronged victory for your family. You can come to understand and communicate with your husband, while showing your children how a mature adult deals with disappointment in others.

You and your husband are both operating with unexamined assumptions, probably learned attitudes you inherited from your families of origin. Continuing with only one of these assumptions unchallenged would cause problems; having them both in operation creates the storm of resentment you’re now experiencing. Unless you identify and challenge these assumptions, you’ll be complicit in maintaining and deepening your frustration and destructive reaction to it.

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