Photo Credit: @britney_whartonLately in the social media sphere (and by lately I mean always) men have consistently been portrayed as unfit parents. But how many of us truly do not trust our husbands with our children? I would say hardly any. I would even go as far to say that husbands are many times even better parents - at least in some ways. You see, after a day at work those happy giggles, little hands, and high-pitched screams are a little more novel and a little more fun then perhaps they are for you and I. So, when our husbands live in a world full of people telling them that they are awful parents, how do we help them realize their full potential? Today I have 3 ways for you to do just that.
Recognize and Thank Your SpouseThere's a great book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In the introduction he explains an experience he had with a female friend who came to him for advice. This friend was wondering what on earth she could do to get her husband to finally paint the walls (or some other project) that she had been nagging him about for ages! Gary's advice was this: stop nagging him to paint the walls and instead thank and recognize him when he does a job well done on other things! Incredulous, she left - not promising to change anything. A few weeks later she showed back up at Gary's office exclaiming that her husband had finally painted the walls! Why? Because she had stopped nagging him and instead thanked him for everything he did around the house. Gary explains what happened here: the husband felt those thank-you's. They meant a lot and they encouraged him to do more things for his wife to get those simple "attaboys." We all want to be recognized for our efforts, even if it's just emptying the Ubbi diaper pail! So say, "Thanks, babe! You're the best for doing that!" give him a smooch and move on. His confidence will grow and your children will learn from your example.
Be Supportive of Their Parenting ChoicesDads can get left behind in making choices pertaining to their children. I know many couples where the wife makes 100% of the decisions when it comes to their kids - even on matters where dad has more insight! This type of behavior automatically shuts dad down - effectively communicating that he is not smart enough or didn't sacrifice enough to have an opinion. Frankly: this just isn't true. Don't be too hard on yourself - I definitely struggle with deferring to my husband's opinion (because lets face it, I am the most stubborn one out of the two of us). But when you listen to your spouse's opinions and incorporate them a magical thing happens - your spouse feels like he is a contributing partner to raising your children! Imagine that. Plus, when you validate his ideas and feelings he will be more apt to share them in the future - which I guarantee you will be grateful for when the kiddos hit puberty.
Encourage BondingLadies - can I tell you how many friends and family I know that don't focus on dad bonding with baby? It's all about mama and her little - which is awesome, but dad also helped to get them here! Most likely he held your hair while you threw up, got up in the middle of the night to go grab that ice cream or burger you just had to have and sprinted to the hospital as fast as he could to make sure you and babe got through labor safely. He was part of that whole process, and should be included in the next chapter! So why does he always get ignored? The trick here is to find ways that dad can get involved and build up his confidence as a new parent. These are my two favorites:
- When baby is little let dad feed them sometimes (if not exclusively breastfeeding). We all know that babies love mom so much because she's the one with the food. But if you're not exclusively breastfeeding let dad have a try! My daughter was exclusively formula fed (which p.s. Mixie baby bottles will save your life if you're doing this) so my husband got to help out A TON. And you know what? That little darling is 100% daddy's girl. That simple act of sitting and feeding her gave my husband some assurance that he could take care of his daughter - just like it does for us mamas.
- Start the "Kid Dates" early. Encourage your spouse to take Little to the museum, splash pad, or even just out for ice cream. Even at 1 years old my daughter LOVES hanging out with dad at special places. She always comes back gigglier and happier than ever. These experiences are cherished ones for dads! Seeing their children have so much fun with them and watching their successes at "parenting by themselves" can prove to be a huge confidence booster!
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