“Fatherly Advice” is a weekly parenting advice column by the experts at Fatherly. Need hard-won insights and scientific facts to resolve a parenting dilemma or family dispute? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Need justifications for parenting decisions you’ve already made? Ask someone else. We’re far too busy for that nonsense.
My daughter was bitten two days in a row at preschool by two different kids. Neither attacker broke the skin, but both left a nice full set of teeth marks. How do we handle it with the preschool and the other parents? I don’t want to overreact, but what do we do if this keeps happening?
Preschoolers are super cute, for sure, but also… they bite. And they bite for a ton of reasons — none of which excuse your daughter’s pals for using her as a chew toy. It’s the responsibility of the preschool to keep her safe. It’s your responsibility to remind them of that fact from time to time.
It is important, however, to recognize context and understand that biting isn’t always malicious. There are a ton of reasons preschoolers are mouthy. For one thing, some are still teething — and those third-year molars aren’t any more comfortable than cutting the first teeth. But kids might bite because they’re stressed or lack the ability to adequately communicate. So it’s not just because they’re mean.
Still, the school staff is there to help keep everyone’s mouth and teeth to themselves. After all, bites are a safety issue, and when the skin is broken, there can be serious concerns of infection. The fact that this has happened twice to your daughter may indicate that there are supervision problems in the classroom. Given that, your next step is to set up a parent-teacher conference. Don’t come in hot. Ask questions about what happened. Ask about what happened before and after. Together, you might be able to figure out where the hiccup in supervision is occurring.
Of course, if it happens again, you’ll need to involve preschool administrators. And if there is ambivalence or you feel you’re not being heard the best route may be to find a new preschool. But don’t cross that bridge before you come to it. You likely won’t.
Finally, I would discourage you from confronting the parents of the biter. That path leads straight to conflict. The biter’s parents will feel immediately defensive, which is totally natural. You’d be defensive too if it were your kid. You can safely assume that the biter’s parents are probably going through some tough times too. If you insist on talking to the kid’s parents just make sure someone is mediating that conversation. This kind of thing has been known to lead to parking-lot fisticuffs. And plus, you never know — the biting could be hereditary.
My wife recently told me I was bad at foreplay. She said it in the nicest way possible, but it still hurts to hear. How do I get better at it?
Before you read anything I have to say on the subject, I have to ask the obvious question: Did you ask your wife what she’d like you to do? If she thinks you’re bad at foreplay, then she probably has an idea of what’s good. Her perspective is way more valuable than mine. So, if you haven’t had that conversation, please stop reading and go have it now (unless she’s with the kids). If you have already had that conversation, stick around.
You sound motivated to put in the work, Anon. But it important that you don’t think of foreplay a means to an end. It’s not. It’s play. The truth is right there in the title. Think of it that way. And help her think of it that way as well. Flirt with her. Send her texts. Before kids play, they talk about rules and teams and trash talk each other. It makes it more fun. Do the same, but maybe keep the trash talk to a minimum.
Look, we’re in a new era. So use the tools you have at your disposal to help your wife understand that you are into her, you find her sexy and you’re ready to get in on in the near future. This does not mean sending her dick pics. It means texting things like: “thinking about how soft your skin is” or “imagining your sweet kisses.” You have to go with whatever is appropriate for your relationship. I can’t Cyrano this thing for you. Put definitely think about sending something that makes you slightly uncomfortable. That’s the point.
As things get going invest in a bit of physical foreplay. But don’t just start grabbing at her. Take your time. As her for directions. Be in charge — if that’s what she prefers — but use your body to solicit feedback and your words to demand instruction. There’s a way to ask for help without begging for it.
Finally, Anon, familiarize yourself with oral sex. This isn’t rocket science. Everyone likes oral sex.
My wife’s parents are way too fast and loose with buying our two boys presents. Our kids are both in elementary school and we’re trying to teach them lessons about money but their grandparents get them anything they ask for. How do we get them to lay off?
Tampa Bay, Florida
Oh man, Jason. I’m not sure I want to be a part of your plot to cut your kids off from their sweet sweet connection. I mean, seriously. Would you have wanted your dad to cut you off from the grand-parental toy teat? Probably not. That said, I understand it’s hard to teach kids important lessons when you feel undermined. But I think there is a middle way.
To begin with, all of this advice is predicated on the assumption that you are willing and able to speak to your parents-in-law. If you can’t, you might want to focus on shoring up that relationship first. Because fixing their spending is going to take some conversation.
You need to help grandma and grandpa understand that your kids would probably just dig hanging out with them. They’re more than just gift machines. They are people who your kids probably adore. If it’s a feasible option, it might help to just ask them over more for family dinners or get-togethers. That way your kids get to see them for the humans they are and the grandparents begin to understand their worth isn’t tied up in their ability to give gifts.
But if the grandparents are insisting that they give more, you can encourage them to take the money they would have spent on the blockbuster gift and funnel it into a secure investment in your kid’s names. That way, the grandparents become partners of your kids’ money education. They can track what’s in their account and watch it accrue interest. Not only will they learn about building wealth, but they’ll also start to understand delayed gratification.
Finally, you need to understand that grandparents get a ton of pleasure from buying stuff for their grandchildren. Because of that, you need to make sure that they have opportunities to do so. Not just on birthdays, either. Sometimes a “just because” gift is what everyone needs. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with placing a reasonable spending limit on these gifts. Pick a number that makes everyone happy and stick to it.