In the popular Parenting subreddit, a father writes, “Wife thinks I’m an idiot. How can I prove to her that I can take care of the children?”
Then he explains the situation a bit more. He is 37 and his wife is 35, and they have twins who are 5.5 months old. His wife recently joined parenting groups for tips on caring for the little ones. “Through those groups, she learned a lot and took charge of a lot of parenting decisions,” he adds. “For example, she learned about baby-guided weaning and decided we would start our kids on solids, which I think is great! She has also taken charge of their sleep training and nap routines and is making great progress. Since I have returned to work after a 20 week paternity leave, she has more or less had to take charge, so I have no complaints about that.”
First – 20 weeks of paternity leave? That is amazing! So far, nothing seems out of the ordinary (well, except for those 20 weeks of paternity leave, unfortunately). Many moms join parenting groups for tips and community, and it sounds like she naturally took more charge in her babies’ lives once her husband returned to work. However, she took it to an extreme level of “control,” according to the father.
“Recently, however, I’ve noticed she’s taking things a little too far in terms of control,” he wrote. “She decided I can’t be part of the bedtime routine because the girls get too excited when they see me and don’t want to sleep.” This is a bit difficult because I work all day and don’t have that much time with them. She’s also largely decided that I can’t be in the room when she’s feeding them for the same reason, which bothers me for the same reason.
This is so sad! He has to work, but then she won’t let him off for bedtime or dinner because the girls get too excited? He’s their father – they missed him! She should celebrate the joy and love on her daughters’ faces when they see their dad (or honestly, use those few moments to catch some alone time!). Instead, she kicks him out of the room to continue doing everything herself.
The father’s feelings were understandably hurt, but he finally had to speak up when he felt his daughters were in danger.
“Today, however, was the final straw,” he continued. “We are currently having a heat wave. Her heat tolerance is very high so we rarely use the AC, but today it was particularly brutal (30C, 86F before humidity). The girls were crying extra loud so I looked at the thermostat in their room and it read 28C (85F), which is way too warm to sleep comfortably. His instinct was right! The Sleep Foundation says that baby’s room temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. So 85 degrees is well above recommended levels, which can be dangerous for them.
He had a solution: “Our air conditioning is right outside their bedroom door, so I opened the door a crack, turned on the air conditioning, and placed a fan in the doorway to blow cool air into the room to cool it down.” He wrote. Sounds good, right? But the mother had a problem with this.
“When she saw me do this, she literally pushed me out of the way, blocked my path, turned off the fan and air conditioning and closed the door, then scolded me for ‘disturbing’ them by leaving the door open, ” he wrote. “After a few minutes of arguing I told her I didn’t want to compromise on this, that 28 degrees is too hot and the air con is on. I turned everything back on and left. 5 minutes later I came back and she turned everything off again and closed the door….” She takes control to the extreme and puts her own ideas above the safety and well-being of her girls!
Treating dads like they don’t know what they’re doing with their own kids — and not raising them their way, even if they do things a little differently than we would — does everyone a disservice. The fathers are affected, the children are hurt, even mothers are worse off because fathers treat as if they are incapable of perpetuating the idea that mothers should be the ones to do it everything. Let dads make doctor appointments or pick up school. Encourage fathers to take care of a child’s lunch or bedtime routine. There’s nothing wrong with correcting your man on certain things, but it goes both ways. When he tried to tell her the rooms were too hot, she wouldn’t listen. Being a mom doesn’t automatically make you an expert at everything!
The father explains that he want to be more involved, but his wife won’t let him. “Obviously she doesn’t think I can take care of these kids,” he wrote. “It just sucks because during the 20 week paternity leave we split everything 50/50 and she repeatedly told me I’m a great dad but that’s completely reversed now that I’m back to work. Not sure what to do here.”
He then asked other fathers for advice, and they delivered. “I agree she’s going a little too far,” one person wrote. “It’s not fair that you can’t spend time with your babies after work. I think you should have a conversation with her and basically say that you think what she’s doing is great, but she needs to find a way to include you in their routines.
Someone responded to that comment, writing, “A little too far? I would 1) be heartbroken if my partner told me I couldn’t be involved in bedtime or feeding my kids. And then 2) furiously and sincerely insisting that I be a part of these things. I would just plant myself in the room. You don’t shut me out of my children’s lives like that. This is a mess.”
Others encouraged him to seek help from the pediatrician. “Call the pediatrician with your wife,” one wrote. “That room was way too hot and the sound of a fan can sometimes help babies stay asleep. Either way, this issue is the biggest red flag.”
“Babies that young can’t regulate their temperature yet,” said another. “They depend on their parents to keep them at a safe temperature, which is too warm for a sleeping baby, especially if there is no airflow. Sounds like the fan was outside the room, not inside. Warm temperatures, no airflow, those are SIDS dangers.
Still other Redditors warned him about the toxicity that is rampant in online parenting groups. “I also learned a lot of useful stuff from online/social media mom groups,” one said. “Buuuutttt… Some can be quite toxic and act like you don’t do x exactly as they say you should, you ruin your child for life. And it’s easy to buy into and get all caught up. So maybe discuss that to see if it’s part of the problem?
“My wife left all those ‘mommy’ groups because they all propagate the myth that dads drill idiots who would die instantly if moms didn’t intervene,” another commented. sleeping, both small children and adults. OP needs to have a LONG and SERIOUS conversation with her partner about this because if she keeps up this toxicity she will burn herself out or drive him away. Personally I wouldn’t tolerate this.”
Others pointed out that if this behavior is unusual, it could be a sign of postpartum anxiety.
Someone wrote: “That room temperature was dangerously high for 5 month olds, but she wouldn’t let you open a door to cool them down? This sounds like postpartum anxiety to me.
“I believe this sounds like fear. It even sounds like the two of you have an otherwise honest relationship with each other, and this dramatic change sounds a bit like postpartum anxiety,” said another. “This can be much worse than generalized anxiety and can become a life-altering disorder if left untreated (not always, but I’ve seen it turn into psychosis with a friend and battled it myself).”
They continued: “In addition to exploring safe sleep practices and bringing some data to show that your decision is sound in terms of this particular case, it would be good to have a discussion about obsessive thoughts/new controlling tendencies , and that she should talk to a professional for a balanced and objective assessment. And I mean a mental health professional, not a pediatrician.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 1 in 5 pregnant or postpartum women experience depression, anxiety, or scary thoughts. Signs of postpartum anxiety include worrying about everyday situations, having racing thoughts, feeling like something bad is about to happen, feeling irritable, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and more. Treatments include medication and therapy.
Even if this mother does not have postpartum anxiety or depression, she may still benefit from therapy with her husband. Navigating parenthood is challenging, especially with twins and especially after your partner returns to work. Support and loving, honest conversations can help!
Contact Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773 if you or a loved one needs emotional and supportive resources during and after pregnancy.