Dads today are more involved in parenting than fathers have ever been. In fact, working fathers report more stress over work-life balance than career advancement.
Yet, research says they still want to do more!
In fact, about half of all dads say they spend too little time with their kids and sadly only 39 per cent felt they were actually doing a “very good job” of raising their children.
So, how can we help dads find more time and do a better job so they have greater life satisfaction? A big start would be if some moms curbed their enthusiasm and stepped aside more.
Let’s encourage dads to parent their own way without our help or interventions.
Things moms (these could just as easily apply to same-sex parents, too!) need to avoid include:
1. Leaving notes or lists
We might all need a little reminder from time to time, but if moms constantly leave notes and lists about how to care for the kids, the assumption is that they don’t think dads can manage without their help.
TIP: Try going list free and see how resourceful your partner is!
It’s nice to have a recap of what we’ve missed in the day, but nobody enjoys a police interrogation: “Did they take their vitamin? Did you pack a warm jacket? Did you ask him to use the potty? How much TV did they watch? What did they watch? Did you watch with them to make sure it was okay content? How much milk did he drink?"
3. Correct or criticize
When moms correct dads or criticize them for their parenting it can make them feel discouraged. No one wants to feel judged, especially by someone whose opinion matters to you. Fearing disapproval, dads can avoid stepping up to help, thinking "If I do nothing – I can’t be blamed for doing it wrong."
4. Demanding things be done our way
Sure we have systems and methods that work well for keeping everyone happy and the family on track, but it’s okay for different parents to have different approaches.
If dad wants to do stories with all the kids at the same time, and mom feels the kids sleep better if they are separated and get their own story – you do it your way on your night and leave dad to handle tuck in his style on his night.
5. Forgetting to appreciate them
No one tires of being told they are appreciated. Moms, be sure to let dads know that they are doing a good job (and vice versa!).
TIP: Be specific, too. "I love that you are a playful dad. The kids love it when you build forts with them."
6. Letting the child pick a parent
When your child protests "I want mommy to do up my zipper” or “I want mommy to tuck me in,” don’t simply acquiesce. The division of labour for parenting should be arranged by parents, not children.
TIP: Say to your child: “Mom is not available for tuck ins tonight – it's my night. We can do it happily or tears, but mommy is not an option.” With time, you will create your own daddy tuck-in rituals that your child will come to love.
7. Refusing alone time
Some moms don’t think dads have enough skills to manage the kids, so they won’t even allow them to be alone together. Believe me – dads will figure it out and will feel way more courageous and less under the microscope if they have time alone with their kids.
8. Referring to their care as "babysitting"
Dads are parents, not babysitters. It's demeaning to say they are “babysitting” their own children.
TIP: Instead say he is “watching the kids,” “home with the kids” or “caring for the kids.”
9. Assuming only you can soothe an upset child
With infants, nursing can be the answer for soothing. However, moms shouldn't assume that just because the baby is bawling that it's hungry and needs mom.
TIP: Dads can burp, soothe, rock and sing to babies, too.
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