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, which my husband had claimed was the best. 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?
6 thoughts on “Is Your Spouse A Dumb Daddy?”
What a great example. I don’t think I’ve ever analyzed it as deeply as you, but I’m definitly very conscious of not interjecting or criticizing my hubbys parenting.
Our daughter is still very young (6 months) so its still new to us, but I told myself before DD was born that I would let him learn on his own, after all, who am I to try and teach him when parenting is equally as new to me?
I know our parenting styles will be very different as our daughter grows and I think that’s great as long as we continue to agree on core principles and the values we want our daughter to possess.
My hubby and I have often commented about the media perception of the “class clown” type of father…he means well, but bumbles through his parenting duties…and the steady, responsible mom swoops in to set it all right, teaching the kids, and dad, a valuable lesson in the end. While it is true that in our house, I do tend to be the more practical parent, there is no one I trust more with the children then their father. I know that he feels just as strongly as I do about our choices to be attachment parents and that ultimately, whatever chores get done, or however they get done, is not nearly as important as the kids knowing they can count on us to do what it best for them.
I know that my husband would be offended by such inferences that fathers are dumb, and I’m certainly irritated with these inferences, too. I believe that it’s very important that fathers are as involved in their children’s lives as their mothers are, but I still struggle in a community where the view is that raising children is solely a woman’s domain and that fathers aren’t “manly enough” if they take time to play and nurture their children. I think this is so silly and misguided. In my opinion, I think men can only really be manly if they are nurturing and loving toward their wives and children.
This is something that I try to talk about as often as possible on my own blog. As a father I am offended by people, stories, etc. that portray fathers/men as bumbling idiots that can only take out the trash and drink beer. (sometimes at the same time :)) I think this is a stereotype that needs to be broken but unfortunately there are far too many dads/men out there who are bumbling idiots. I know some of them. Society as a whole needs to understand and come to grips with the fact that it’s OK for men to love their kids and be sensitive. It doesn’t make them less of a man. Basically, get over it!
One show that does a good job portraying dads as manly yet sensitive, and even right half the time, is “According to Jim.” The character of Jim is a sports nut, a contractor by trade, yet reads to the kids, helps them with homework, and cries when he dances at his daughters first father/daughter dance. He also is very interested in his kids lives and definitely has a different way of parenting than his wife Cheryl. Cheryl, the mom, is also portrayed as a strong, loving mother and wife who, at the end of the day, respects her husband’s parenting style and yields to him as head of the house.
I feel the bias society has for men being bumbling idiots and not able to be responsible parents. I have also felt the sting of how society treats men who do try to be involved in their children’s lives. I have children. One is 7 and the other 2 months. My wife and I split the household chores and both of us are active in the rearing of our children.
I felt the sting of bias all the time against me being an active dad. I feel it from the looks I get at the store when I am alone and pushing a stroller to the harsh treatment I get from day care centers when I have been shopping for one. Why is it such a strange thing for dad to take responsibility. You see billboards all over our streets saying to men to take time out to be a dad, but why does society at large make involved dads look like freaks??
As far I am concerned, I am going to keep doing what I am doing now no matter what because I know it is the right thing to do, whether it is considered “manly” or not.