Dear Feelings Doctor: I have two sons, ages 11 and 9. They are always wrestling and being active boys. Lately, I have had to take my youngest to the emergency room twice in the same month. I know that this may seem normal, but it is so upsetting to me. My husband says that they are just being boys!
— Help! in Goleta
Dear Help: Boys will always wrestle and be active. There could be a mutual affray, which happens when children close in age are playing too rough. That doesn’t sound like what is happening here.
The problem is when your boys cross over that line of aggressive play to violence. Sit down with your children and be very clear that hurting another person is not OK. I do understand that accidents will happen. The healthy part of playing does not have to include going to the hospital. Have this discussion with your husband, too, so everyone knows exactly what is expected around this issue. Playing with the intent of discovery and fun is normal; playing or wrestling to inflict pain is not appropriate.
Dear Feelings Doctor: I have been married for 18 years, and for the last two years my wife has been hanging out with the wrong people. I found out my wife was doing drugs. I had found some cut-up straws in the bathroom, and I figured she was doing something she shouldn't have. I am against drugs.
One day she got caught stealing a credit card. The first time, we talked about it; then she did it again, but this time it was from a grocery store. She spent 90 days in jail.
I wanted to leave her, but I had to be strong for my three boys. She told me she was going to change, but I don't see any changes. My boys have a lot of hurt in them because when she got arrested it was in front of them.
Please help me with this issue. In the back of my mind, something tells me to leave, but I can't because I have my boys to take care of.
— Dad in Santa Barbara
Dear Dad: This is a sad thing for you and your boys to witness, and you are right, you need to be strong for them. Your wife seems to have a problem, and if she doesn’t get help, this type of lifestyle will bring you and your family down again and again.
You do not have to leave your boys, but you do have a voice in requesting that your wife leave and get help. Being in jail for 90 days hopefully was an eye-opener for her. If not, and she continues her addictive behavior with no positive changes, request that she be the one to leave, and return only when she is healthy and clean, working a program of sobriety.
Your boys are trusting that you will keep them safe. It sounds like that is just what you want to do. Feel free to write me again when you need to. We will keep discussing healthy, positive choices for you and your family. Good luck.
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You cannot spend five minutes in the morning affirming that all is well and spend the rest of the day proving that it is not. — Ernest Holmes