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Q •  Does everything we do have to be centered around our two kids? My wife and I argue about this all the time. She's totally into doing what they want, and I'm really tired of it. What should I say or do to get her to realize that we need to do some things that we like and not have to constantly make plans to include our kids? Why can't we just take them to something we like but that they might not?

From a reader • Sorry to say, but when people have kids, their lives change forever. They become the center of your universe. It does get easier with time. You need to grow up and stop being selfish. Right now in this unpredictable world, you need to concentrate on being the best dad you can and keeping your family safe. - F.S. in Atlanta

From Jodie Lynn • It's nice that you want to do activities with your wife, but depending on the ages of your kids, there could be many reasons why she wants to include them in most everything that you do. This is especially true if you both work outside the home and your time with them is fairly limited.

For whatever reason, moms have a tendency to sometimes feel more guilty about being away so frequently from their kids.

It could be the fact that she was the one who carried them for nine months and gave birth to them.

She may feel that it's a mandatory “mom” requirement to protect them by keeping them close so that she can supervise them and teach them important lessons in life.

If the kids are still under the age of 5, this may be somewhat of a persistent gnawing within her soul.

Instead of arguing, be sure that you're really listening to her reasons as to why she feels that they need to be included and take time to think about them.

Perhaps this will give you a better understanding of her hesitation.

Talk to her in a calm and nonjudgmental tone so that you can get more information. This will allow you to make suggestions that might help to alleviate her fears or resistance.

For example, ask her if the two of you can go out alone for a short time, at least in the beginning.

For now, take baby steps and be patient and as she becomes more comfortable with the situation, she'll probably begin to enjoy your time together.

Additionally, as the kids get older and more independent, the circumstances should become easier for her to leave them with a sitter for a longer period of time.

CAN YOU HELP?

My wife and I love to rough house with our three kids. My mother-in-law says horseplay, which she thinks is basically fighting, will make them act out with bad behavior at school. She says it's sending an emotional and psychological message that may lead them into becoming a bully. Should we stop play-fighting with them?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email: direct2contact@parenttoparent.com, or go to parenttoparent.com which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.