As moms we typically “get it”. We know our children’s routines. We know what different cries mean. We can tell when something is “off”.
Dads. Not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. My husband is wonderful! He plays with our sweet little boy like only he can. He’s great at helping with those poopy diapers, even after a long day of teaching and coaching. And he’s always been my emotional supporter. I know he’ll continue to be a great daddy as our son grows, and they’ll have a bond that I will never understand.
But daddy simply doesn’t understand some things.
Daddy gets upset when the baby cries when he gets put down for a nap. Even though I know he just needs to fake cry for 2-3 minutes to let us know he doesn’t like this and is afraid of missing out on something while he sleeps. Those 2-3 minutes of crying get daddy all worked up and upset for an hour. And daddy doesn’t understand why baby sometimes refuses food, even if it’s his favorite. He’ll think he’s doing something wrong when it’s just a picky eater kind of day.
Sometimes our sweet little boy gets handed off to me. Dad just doesn’t want to deal with it. Sometimes I have to step in and intervene so the little guy doesn’t get more worked up.
One day, however, I realized I’d gone too far. Our little man was having a particularly rough day of teething and I hadn’t let daddy do anything. Andrew got upset that I wasn’t including him. I had crossed a line.
At that moment, I realized I needed to figure out ways to include dad more. So here are the five things I now try to do every day to ensure we are including dad in our home.
- Give dad time. He needs to develop a relationship with his children, regardless of age. Don’t step in and “help” with everything. This might mean a mom-outing is in order, but make sure to give dad plenty of uninterrupted time with his kids.
- Communicate. Talk about what is going on with the kids. When my husband gets home from work, I ask how his day went. When he asks how we’re doing, I’ll tell him if junior is off his game. This lets him know what to expect for the evening.
- Be specific. While this ties into #3, it’s worth mentioning on its own. If I need help with something, I should not make blanket statements like, “It sure would be nice if you helped more!” Instead I need to state exactly what would help out. “Could you give little man his bath so I can finish supper?” or “Why don’t you boys go to the park so I can get some work done.” Both of these are specific examples of communication that will include dad more without nagging or begging.
- Thank him. Maybe it’s just my husband, but I have a feeling many dads out there like to know they’re appreciated. If Andrew feeds our little guy supper and gives me 30 minutes of uninterrupted “me” time, I need to show my appreciation! One little thank you goes a long way.
- Don’t judge. It’s easy as moms (at least for me) to think dad is doing something wrong and let him know the right way (aka – my way) of doing things. Instead I need to back off and let him be. If dad wants or needs help, he’ll ask. And I need to consider this: Is what dad is doing “wrong” right now going to matter tomorrow or in a week? If not, leave him be!