How many of us are guilty of making our partners feels superfluous? Lots of well-meaning moms rob their children’s father of the opportunity to be an equal parent, and often they do so out of a sense of guilt or obligation. They may think they’re protecting a busy spouse from the stressors of childcare, or they might just want things done a certain way.
While intentions may be good, moms could also be standing in the way of a significant, life-changing relationship both for children and their fathers. I know this from personal experience because I had to learn the hard way.
I used to create all sorts of arbitrary rules about what my “jobs” were, things like diaper changes, bath time, meals, and discipline. I ran myself ragged being in charge until I burned out and couldn’t do it anymore.
With time I learned how to ask for help. For many of us, this isn't easy to do. We think we should be able to do it all or that our partners should intuitively know what we need. Knowing how to ask for help is an important skill in parenting and in a marriage. When I began to ask for what I needed, I felt less overwhelmed and more supported, but most importantly I witnessed as a beautiful relationship emerged between father and son. It was incredible to learn that my way isn't in fact the only way and that my husband had skills and ideas I never would have considered.
Here are some ways my husband parents like a boss:
1. Daddy Hold
I distinctly remember one day when my son was about three months old. He was very fussy, and I was desperate for a shower. I left the baby with my husband and wished him good luck. I rushed through the shower, certain that my husband and son couldn’t survive without my presence. When I came out, I stumbled upon a remarkable scene. My son, who could only sleep latched onto my body, was sleeping in my husband’s arms in a hold we came to refer to as “daddy hold.”
That was the day I realized that we’re a team. Parenting isn’t solely my job, and my husband doesn’t babysit. We have different and complementary skills, and it has taken combining our approaches to survive parenthood.
2. Outdoor Adventures
Moreover, I see how these experiences, along with how my husband gently guides my son through them, is teaching competence, flexibility, problem solving, and personal boundaries. When I stood back to let my husband parent the way he knew how to, I was amazed to learn how much he can offer that I can’t. And even better, I don’t have to figure out how to teach my son those things because it’s already happening with no effort on my part.
Do I experience mild panic when I see them climbing something high? Absolutely. Do I keep it to myself? Sometimes.
3. Building & Creating
4. So. Much. Patience
I’m not saying I deserve a gold star for reigning in my inner control freak. However, I am deeply relieved that I had the modicum of self-awareness needed to realize I had the potential to sabotage one of the most significant relationships in my son’s life. I look forward to seeing what new adventures my boys will take together, and I will continue to delight in their unique bond.