Recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a dilemma over the information that my husband tells the children.
When it comes to stuff about animals or birds or wildlife etc., or how to build something, make something, get something working – he knows a hell of a lot. He talks to the girls about this stuff and they drink it in, really learning things and remembering stuff and they are endlessly fascinated by it.
I on the other hand am the person they come to when they want to know about the computer, the world, other countries, languages, science, the “why does this happen” questions and we talk about a whole host of “general knowledge” stuff.
There is however a fundamental difference between the two of us that has me in a dilemma.
If I’m asked a question which is outside my sphere of knowledge – or even one that is within my knowledge but I just don’t know how to explain it at that time – then I use the immortal words “I don’t know”. This is usually followed by GorgeousGirl saying:
“Can we ask the internet Mummy?”
which is great…as long as I’m not driving or cooking dinner or something at the time – but eventually we’ll find out the answer and I’ll do my best to explain it to little minds.
However my husband is the kind of guy who thinks that sweeping generalisations – especially on subjects that he knows nothing about – are as good as facts when it comes to answering their questions. (Or even when they aren’t asking questions).
I have learnt over the years to let a lot of this stuff go by – lets face it who wants to have dinner with someone who’s always correcting your vocabulary or explaining that you’ve got your facts wrong.
However, when he’s making these grand generalisations / talking nonsense to our daughters what do you do?
The example that caught me up short recently was this conversation with GorgeousGirl.
GG “when I’m 20 will I still be in school?”
GG “well when I’m 21 will I still be in school?”
DH “maybe – but I expect you’ll be married with a baby (<<cue strangulated WTF noises from me>>) most girls have babies before they’re 24 or 25”
Now at this point – rightly or wrongly – and in front of GG – I intervened – gently at first,
“I’m not sure that’s right you know – I think its a lot later than that”
DH “no its not – almost everyone has babies before they are 25”
Now I didn’t actually know the correct answer but – given my fairly large experience of mothers (some personally, 100s through blogs and forums) – I was pretty sure that this generalisation was wrong, and what was worse, was that I knew his statement had been made from a position of absolutely no knowledge, research or experience about the subject. What’s more his insistance that he knew a great deal about a subject which I’ve never heard him take the slightest bit of interest in before …had got my back up!
I was straight onto Google – which confirmed that as I suspected the average age in the UK for first-time mothers is around 29 to 30.
I did tell him the answer – I tried to keep the note of “I told you so” out of my voice but I couldn’t guarantee that I was successful.
I suppose that I could have waited till GG went to bed (head filled with mis-information?) and then tell him that he was in fact wrong – but frankly he just wouldn’t have been interested at the time. And actually what he thinks he knows is not really the issue – its what he’s teaching them that matters.
In front of the girls its clearly not ideal to have to tell their Daddy that he is talking complete and utter nonsense – but on the other hand when he IS talking complete and utter nonsense and passing it off as facts – what do you do?