When it comes to keeping our two children happy and on schedule with their routine, my husband and I tend to use a Divide And Conquer philosophy. We each have our strengths as parents and we each have things that frustrate us. When I’m reaching the limits of my patience, my husband is great about stepping in so I can cool off; when my husband tires of sibling rivalry, I step in to give him a break and chance to regroup.
We also split up the household duties. The faster the work gets done, the more time we have to spend together. For example, after dinner, it’s common practice for one of us to get the children ready for bath and bedtime, while the other tackles the dishes, cleans up the kitchen and puts away leftovers.
A few days ago, I ended up with kitchen duty, and as I stood at the sink washing dishes, I listened to the rest of my family cleaning up the toys in another room. As I listened to my husband direct the kids to put their toys away, it struck me how different his method was, compared to mine.
He turned the chore into a game, whereas I would have given specific instructions for my daughter to put her dolls away and my son to pick up all the blocks. My way is faster, but his way was more fun. The kids didn’t whine or complain, and in the end, the result was the same. The toys got picked up and the kids went upstairs to prepare for bath and bed.
It was hard for me to stand there and listen and not interject, or instruct the kids to put the toys, “Not there, on THAT shelf,” but I held my tongue for a reason. It’s very true that my husband and I have different ways of approaching things, but we agree on all the big things. The biggest one is that we’re equal partners in raising our children. So while it might be hard for neat freak me to see the toys put away in the wrong place, in the long run it’s not something worth getting upset over. And my husband is not one of my children that needs to be instructed on how to do things either. I might prefer my way, but does that make it the best way? Clearly, my children preferred the slower, more fun method of toy clean up, instead of their mother barking orders like a drill Sergeant.
Some years ago, someone gave us a couple of Berenstain Bears videos. I took them gladly, because I read and enjoyed the books as a child. So when I sat down with my son to actually watch the videos, I was sad and disappointed. In the Berenstain Bears, the dad is loving but misguided. He attempts to teach the kids about strangers and scares Sister Bear, and when Mama Bear creates a rule chart, it’s Papa Bear who has the most infractions for rude behavior. How had I not noticed the obvious inference that mothers are better than fathers?
It’s important for me, as an Attachment Parenting mother, to treat my children with love and respect, but it’s also important for me to treat my spouse with love and respect. And in doing that, my children are observing a relationship in which the partners respect each other. How would it be beneficial for my kids to grow up thinking that I look down on their father? Despite his lack of rules about where the toys go, my husband is a good and loving father, and that’s what is important.
Instead, I’ll continue to strive to provide my kids with a good example. And the Berenstain Bears videos went into the donation bin.
What do you think? Is your spouse a dumb daddy? Dads, are you insulted or offended by cartoons such as the Berenstain Bears?