Each week, I’ll take some time to answer your questions on any topic. You can submit a question through the Contact form on this site, or shoot me an email.

Today, my wife went out with some of our girlfriends while I stayed home with our daughter. Because there was some bad weather, she ended up coming home early. I knew our daughter needed a bath, but before I gave her the bath, I swept the floor, steam mopped, cleaned the counters, did some dusting and laundry, washed all the dishes, and took the garbage out. After all of that, I sat down for quick break. It was about that time that she walked through the door and started complaining about the fact that I didn’t give our daughter a bath. Am I wrong for being mad that she is picking to bitch about that?

I totally get feeling frustrated. In your mind, you’ve done all of this awesome stuff around the house, just really crushed it, and instead of focusing on or acknowledging that, your wife focused on the one thing you didn’t do. It can totally make you feel like you wasted your time doing all of the other stuff. I’ve definitely been there before.

But, I don’t think you’re going to like what I’m about to say next.

First, it may be that in her mind, you had one job—to give your daughter a bath—and you didn’t do it. But that’s assuming she didn’t leave you with a honey-do list that included all the other stuff you did. It may have also been that all of the other things you did, the sweeping, dusting, mopping, etc., were nice-to-have things, but giving your daughter a bath was the only need-to-have and you didn’t do it. But again, this is assuming a lot.

Second, and probably most importantly, if all of the other chores were things that needed to be done, then you don’t get any bonus points for doing them. All too often, I think we (men) look at these types of domestic tasks as either optional or not our job because we don’t like doing them. And if we do these things, we get to deposit bonus points in the GOOD SPOUSE BANK, redeemable later for sexy time or as a get out of jail free card the next time you screw something up or forget to do something.

The thing is, your wife probably doesn’t like doing that shit either.

When I first got married, that’s definitely how I felt about these things. In those days, if I picked up a mop, I’d spend the whole next week being like LOOK AT ME, FOR I HAVE DONE A THING. I’m sure I was insufferable.

You just can’t have that kind of transactional mindset about parenting or chores. You can’t expect to receive something in return for everything you do. Because then, in your mind, you’re owed something. And when you don’t receive whatever it is you feel like you’re owed, you’ll resent your spouse for it.

Don’t you enjoy having clean floors, dishes, and counter tops? You see, these aren’t things you’re “doing for your wife,” you’re doing them for you, too. You benefit from this stuff just as much as she does.

So, to answer your question: sure, you can be frustrated by it; I probably would be too. But should you say anything to her about it? Nope. Nothing good will come of that.

And that’s the question you have to answer for yourself in all of these kinds of situation: do I want to fight with my wife over this? Is this the hill I want to die on?

My husband and I alternate diaper changes, but somehow I always manage to get the poopy diapers. Am I wrong for wanting to strangle my husband?

Nope.

Saying that you changed the last diaper is totally a cop-out, and one I’ve definitely used before.

I don’t like changing diapers when my son has dropped a load in his shorts, especially now that he’s eating pureed vegetables and fruits. Just appalling. In fact, I’ve come close to passing out twice from changing my son’s diapers.

The first time was right after he was born and we were still in the hospital. My son did his first meconium turd, and being the dutiful husband, I jumped up to change it. I had read all about how the first few dirty diapers look like black tar. I was prepared for this moment.

Except I wasn’t.

I wasn’t expecting “black tar” to be such an accurate description. I could see darkness closing in around my field of vision. I got light headed and short of breath. I had to sit down before I hit the deck.

The second time, it was much the same. I thought I was ready for my son’s first non-meconium poo. The description in the parenting book was that it would look like grainy mustard. And I’ll be damned if that’s not exactly what it looked like. Coarse ground mustard that smelled like moldy popcorn with a hint of sharp cheddar.

Dad had to go lie down.

But back to your question! While the system you guys have worked out seems reasonable enough, in practice, it’s not actually fair. And it seems like he’s more than happy to take advantage of this.  But you know what? He needs to stop being prissy about changing poopy diapers.

I’m convinced that 90% of being a good parent comes down to showing up. You gotta show up to work even if you’re tired, sick, having a bad day, or you’re afraid of getting your child’s shit on yourself. You don’t get to choose to sit one out. That’s just not an option. The child doesn’t care about your husband’s feelings, it cares about not sitting in a steaming pile of doo doo. So homeboy needs to step up to the plate and do some work.

I’m having some issues with my mother-in-law. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we ask her not to feed our son crap like cookies, candy, rice crispy treats, etc., she keeps doing it. She says that part of being a grandma is spoiling him, which we’re fine with. We have just asked that it’s not with processed garbage all the time. Our son is only a year and a half old and, although we’re not crazy health nuts, we know that you are what you eat. What can we do to make her understand that we’re serious?

Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted eats bacon for the first time? He was never allowed to eat it as a kid because his mother told him he was allergic to it. Which was a lie, of course. She just didn’t want him to eat unhealthy food. So Ted tries a piece of bacon, loves it, and then eats two buffet trays of it.

Don’t do that to your kid.

You can keep him from eating junk food now because he’s only a year and a half old and can’t really make decisions about what he eats. But you and I both know that’s not going to last forever.

What happens when he goes to his first sleepover and there’s a tray of fresh-baked cookies? He’ll have one since you’re not around to tell him no and all the other kids are eating them, it will be delicious, and then he’ll proceed to eat ten more of them.

I think what you may want to aim for is teaching him moderation. It’s okay to have a cookie. It’s not okay to have six. So, let your mother-in-law give him sweets. Just make sure she’s giving him appropriate serving sizes and not letting your son eat himself sick.

The other problem I’m seeing here is that you can’t just tell your mother-in-law no on this. What you should be saying is, “instead of doing this, do this.”

And if you’re really worried about things, I’d suggest pre-portioning a treat or two and giving it to your mother-in-law so she can give it to your son. At least that way you’ll know what she’s giving him and how much she’s giving him.

Either way, the absolute last thing you want to do is fight with her about this. If only because it will put your partner in a bad spot–it’s her mom, after all.