I'm a SAHM Striving to Validate my Husband's Fathering
Soon after I became a mom, I realized that I needed a certain amount of validation and encouragement along the way. Not that I was mothering to be noticed or validated, but the moral support sure does a lot for me. Finding those sources of love and encouragement were really quite easy; my husband, mother, sisters, and close friends with children all quickly just settled themselves into the position. After a while, I started to think about my husband's needs as a father, and what I could do to be his encouragement.
My hubby works and attends school full time. With those two things combined, he barely has enough free time to even sleep 4 or 5 hours a night. I have always been conscious of complimenting and thanking him for his efforts at work and school for the benefit of our family, but one day I realized I was missing something very important, I wasn't validating and encouraging him enough about his role as a father!
I just never really thought about making a conscious effort because he is a pretty easy-going guy that doesn't very freely share his emotional needs. I wouldn't say that all men are like this, but I do think it is more common, so maybe your husband is the same way! So what led me to believe that he needed to be validated more? It was a very simple apology that he made daily:
"I am so sorry that I am gone so much and can't help you with Penny more."
Whenever he made this apology, I always told him that he didn't need to apologize because he was working hard now to be able to be home more later! But, the apology kept happening even though I wasn't ever complaining about him being gone (a goal I made for myself when he went back to school; I didn't want to ever make him feel bad.) So I started thinking; why is he feeling the need to apologize so often even if I don't prompt the apology?
That is when I realized that maybe he was feeling bad and stressed about missing out on time with our daughter more than he was letting me know. I figured that if I made an effort to provide him with opportunities to be involved and validated, even when not at home, then maybe, just maybe, it would ease his concerns.
He has been loving little video blips during the day. For one, it allows him to see the excitement about a new toy or the irritation at mom because I put the wrong kind of cheese on the lunch plate. In the beginning, I didn't really send him these because I didn't want to bother him while he was working or studying, and I could always just show him when he was home. But, he loves to see them in "real time" much more than me just showing him the whole day's events at night!
It also gives him something to talk to our daughter about when he gets home: "Did you throw your cup in the river at the splash pad today? Was it so silly?" "What animals are on the new puzzle that you got?" Now, even though he wasn't actually there, he gets to be part of the memories.
Work VisitsI realize that some might not have the luxury of visiting dad at work, but it is only a five minute drive for us. So, whenever we are out and about, we drop by to say hi! Even if it is just a quick hug and kiss in the parking lot, he has expressed how great it is to see us mid-day. When his schedule permits, we pack a lunch and go eat with him during his break. It is honestly not the easiest, or most convenient, thing for me to do, but I know that time is precious to him.
Stepping Back and Affirming
When my husband is home (hallelujah for the weekends!!!) and has time that he gets to focus completely on spending with us, I try to step back a little bit. Not in a "now that you're home, you take care of her" kind of way, but just in a way that allows him to make the first parental move. I think it is SO important to let dads do things their way too. Yeah, us moms have a schedule and a normal way of doing things, but that does not mean it is the only way things can be done. Constantly telling them they should "do it this way," will only rain on their daddy-confidence parade.
My husband loves getting to teach our daughter new things, to comfort her when she is sad, and suggest what activities we do for fun. The more she turns to him, the more confident he has become as a father, which, in turn, allows him to enjoy her more! As I watch them have sweet and successful interactions, I make sure to express that I think he is doing a great job in his role as dad.
So, what do you think? Would your spouse benefit from a little more validating and moral support in their role as a parent? I am willing to bet that anyone can! I know that without my husband, there is no way I could be the mom that I am, so I am doing my best to make sure he knows that! Take time this week to give those dads the extra praising they need!
Written by: Alyssa Liston