A nod to my husband

WP_20150101_08_34_11_Pro (2)Often times it seems — at least to me — that dads don’t get a lot of recognition, especially when their kids are babies. So in honor of my husband’s milestone birthday this month, I thought I’d take a moment to tell the world why he is so invaluable to my children and me:

To my children, he’s their whole world.

He’s their confidante, their tickle monster, their tent builder.

He’s the one they watch for out the window, unable to contain their excitement that he’s home from work.

He’s the strongest role model they could have, providing a constant example of the type of person we should all strive to be.

In his arms, they can find solace unlike any other.

Because of him, they will have a childhood filled with snowball fights and dance parties, board games and movie nights. But more importantly, they will have a childhood filled with unconditional love and security, a childhood that teaches them that all their dreams can become realities.

To me, he’s my best friend.

He’s the one who always takes care of me after I’ve spent the day taking care of the kids.

He’s the one who can make me laugh — really laugh — no matter what.

He provides constant support and encouragement in everything I do, whether it’s Attachment Parenting or pursuing writing.

He’s the provider that gives me the privilege of staying home with our children.

He’s my partner, in life and in love, as we raise our family.

The truth about dads and Attachment Parenting

alexis schraderLike many bedsharing parents, I’ve had conversations where I let people assume my daughter sleeps in a crib.

While I love our family bed, sometimes I just don’t want to get into the details of why I’m not afraid of suffocating my child and when and where I have sex. So I smile and nod when strangers refer to a crib that does not exist.

My husband doesn’t do this. Anyone who assumes our daughter sleeps in her own room gets immediately corrected and, if they question our choice, engaged in a lively debate.

I love this about him. It’s dads like him who break down misconceptions about Attachment Parenting (AP) and gender.

One of the most common criticisms of Attachment Parenting is that it undermines women’s place in society by demanding too much of mothers, forcing them to abandon any interests and identity outside of motherhood. But women who self-identify as feminists are more likely to practice Attachment Parenting than women who identify as non-feminist. The disconnect between criticism and reality comes from critics’ own assumptions about AP families: They assume Mom is doing it all.

Enter the AP Dad.

Maybe he is feeding the baby a bottle of pumped breast milk, with love and respect of course, while mom is at work. Maybe he’s running errands with an infant cuddled up to him in a sling. Or maybe he’s snuggling up with a toddler in bed at the end of the day.

When Mom is out of the house, he’s not “babysitting” — he’s parenting.

The assumption that he’s not, hurts all of us. This misconception about Attachment Parenting leads families away from a parenting approach that may be better for their children. It places undue pressure on mothers through a societal assumption that they are doing all the parenting. And it’s disrespectful to dads who take on their fair share of parenting responsibilities.

Even those of us in families where fathers pull their own parenting weight expect other people to assume that they’re not. As an API Leader, the most common question I’m asked is, if dads are allowed at API Support Groups. Dads need parenting support, too, but the societal expectation that Mom is doing all the parenting is so strong that we hear “parenting support group” and think “mothers’ support group.”

It is within this zeitgeist that my husband is brave for being a proud bedsharing dad. When people hear a man sleeps in a family bed, there’s often an assumption that his wife made him do it, that he was against it and that he’s never going to have sex again.

They discount the possibility that a father-to-be would research parenting options, discuss them with his partner and together they would make a decision on the sleep arrangements that they feel are best for their family.

In reality, this is how almost every family I know operates. The more apparent it becomes that a couple operates as a team, the less Attachment Parenting appears to put an undue burden on mothers.

So be proud, AP Dad! You’ll be helping out AP families everywhere. Plus, you get to end your day with snuggles.