Let Dads Do It Differently
by Bria Simpson
Bria Coaching Company
“A significant amount of research has proven that men are inherently just as nurturing and responsive to their children’s needs as women. What too many men (and women) don’t realize is that to the extent that women are ‘better’ parents, it’s simply because they’ve had more practice. In fact, the single most important factor in determining the depth of long-term father-child relationships is opportunity.”
-Armin Brott, The New Father
A friend recently told me about a time she left her two children with their father for the day. When she returned in the late afternoon, she was surprised that they were already wearing their pajamas. When she asked her husband why, he said “what pajamas?” He hadn’t realized that they were even wearing pajamas, so the kids wore them to all of their “fun outings” that day! Thankfully, my friend was wise enough to laugh it off, suppress the haunting images of other mothers shaking their heads in shame, and appreciate the day she had to herself.
If we want to diminish the “micro-mommy madness” of our generation (Issue #15- Micro-Mommy Madness), we have to be willing to share parenting and let “dad” do it differently. Yet, at the same time, we know that some parental constancy is important to keep the rules and consequences consistent. Consider these tips to help you determine when it’s important to let go and let dad do it differently (“dad” can be substituted with any partner in parenting):
• Agree on the general rules of the household and consequences for breaking the rules. For instance, if you discipline your children for whacking each other, and dad laughs it off, the whacking will continue and you’ll be the “mean” parent while dad is just the “fun” one. Consistency with rules and discipline is really important. Sit down with your partner at twice a year to update the rules and discipline, as the kids get older, and make sure everyone in the family understands the laws that govern your house.
• Pick your top three “I’m-watching-you-so-don’t-
screw-up” areas and do those yourself. For instance, if you’ve agreed that your partner is in charge of supervising “clean-up” and, upon completion, you wonder when they are going to start- this job may need to remain in your domain.
• Try to let your partner do almost everything else, his way. Many of my clients are challenged with this one- as am I at times. I was recently frightened by how my husband “fixed” my six-year old’s hair before they left for a brownie event (think Pippy Longstockings hit by a truck). The problem is, if we insist on feeding the baby every meal because “he can’t do it right” or we won’t let him dress our young ones because “he can’t match to save his life”, we will drown in the family work load and everyone suffers the repercussions- especially us! (The repercussions vary- but may include problems such as depression, insomnia, chronic anxiety or physical injuries. Our brains and bodies can only handle so much. We are human!)
* Open your mind and you just might learn something! Don’t tell my husband I’m admitting this, but sometimes they even do it better! Research shows that dads tend to encourage more independent behaviors in children. Encouraging self-sufficiency, for instance, teaches our children important life skills and allows us some time to focus on ourselves.
Keeping yourself aware of the “big stuff” you want to manage yourself or co-parent consistently, and letting go of the “small stuff”, will do wonders for your self, your marriage and your partner’s relationship with your children. Remember the bigger picture- dads need to parent their children to bond with them and you need non-parenting time to lead a whole life. What can you let go of this week and let “dad” do differently?
Bria Simpson, MA
Life Coach and Parenting Specialist
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© 2005 by Bria Simpson All rights and media reserved.