Stay-at-home dad needs a gentle nudge

Q: My husband is a wonderful stay-at-home dad. When he first began being at home, he had been laid off and was doing some consulting to bring in extra cash. That has stopped, and I miss the wiggle room that income created. I don’t want to take away from the job he does. I know it’s hard. But I wish he would take on some projects again. How can I bring this up sensitively?

A: Did the consulting dry up, or did he start turning down projects? Did he have any child-care help, or was he squeezing it in during naps or late nights? Was the wiggle room you miss a matter of a couple of dinners out a month or not having to sweat making your mortgage payment?

Get specific in your mind about what you want, what it will entail from him and what the differences in both of your lives will look like so you’re able to convey an exact message. It’s important that he hears the point as “If you took on a project every couple of months, that might help our bottom line” rather than “This setup is failing; you need to go back to work.”

Q: My brother has psychiatric problems and has been on many medications. Currently he has a regimen that seems to be working, and when he’s stabilized, he is a kind and pleasant person to be around. My husband doesn’t see this. He does not want him near our children. He thinks that he may “lash out” and that it will be difficult to explain to our children. I want them to have a relationship with my brother. How do I get my husband to understand this?

A: I empathize with your husband’s protective instinct. But I truly believe that instilling in your children a fear of your brother will do more damage than exposing them to him in measured, mindful ways.

I don’t know exactly what you mean by “lashing out” and whether it’s happened before in a threatening way, or if this is the typical “He’s got a psychiatric disorder, so he must be dangerous!” myth. I trust you know the details enough to suggest some thought-out baby steps, starting with your kids meeting your brother in a structured, brief and safe way.