Want Dad more involved with kids? Then Mom has to back off

I would suspect that many mothers would say that they would like their husbands to more involved in the day-to-day rearing of their children. And a new article in The Wall Street Journal suggests that often it’s the mother’s own fault if the father isn’t more engaged in that process.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Of course, fathers are free to choose their level of involvement. But negative gatekeeping by mothers — grimaces or criticism when men try to change a diaper or feed or play with a baby — can block out even fathers who believe they should be involved, says a 2008 study in the Journal of Family Psychology, led by Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan. Gatekeeping can be positive, too: When mothers encourage dads, the men tend to shoulder more child care.”

“It’s usually moms who do the gatekeeping, but they’re not always to blame. Some fathers invite interference by hanging back or being irritable or anxious. ‘Moms may think, ‘He’s not well suited to have positive interactions with the baby, so I’m not going to encourage that,’  Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan says.”

“In other cases, women aren’t conscious of their gatekeeping. Some women whose sense of identity is strongly tied to being a mother may fend off help in order to bolster their self-image, research shows. Others are simply inclined by nature to bond closely; caring for a baby may be so engrossing for these women that they crowd out dads, says a 2008 study in the journal Family Process.”

When I read this story, I absolutely saw myself. I know that I gatekeep with Michael – not so much now but a whole lot in the beginning, especially with babies!

With our first baby I needed a lot of help, and Michael just didn’t know what he was doing. He would take the baby at night so I could sleep but then leave all the lights on and the TV blaring so it took like a month for the baby to get her nights and days figured out. He was trying to help but he didn’t have experience with it so he didn’t know any better. I’m sure I was vocally judgmental as well as giving nasty looks and glares if I didn’t approve of his fathering.

By the time the third baby came he was very experienced at taking care of our children — bathing them, feeding them, dressing them in a coherent fashion. He may not attend to every detail like I would but I have learned to release on that. (It’s OK if Rose’s bow doesn’t match her shirt or if dinner was pasta. Release Mom! Release!)

The main things I know I gatekeep about now is rough play and watching TV shows and video games of which I don’t approve.

The article suggests some solutions to help mom relax and let dad be more involved:

Skills training before the baby comes – Michael did attend breastfeeding classes with me, and I appreciated that. I knew in a time of stress I might not remember everything and he could be my memory. I’m not sure how you could practice soothing a baby.

Peer support – I do think they may take advice better from other dads than their wives. Also if their friend is bathing his kids or taking his kids to the park on the weekend, your husband might feel peer pressured to do so. (Is peer pressure not the same as peer support?)

Awareness of the problem - I think this is huge. If I read this article before the first baby, I’m sure I would have made a more conscious effort not to judge him and to be gentle giving advice.

What do you think: Do you gatekeep your husband? Do you grimace or criticize when he tries to help? Do you let him have free reign and just appreciate the help? How much should Dads be helping?

77 comments Add your comment

Sorry, Theresa...

June 18th, 2009
7:24 am

…but with your first baby, how much experience had you had with rearing babies? You criticize your husband (gently) by saying “I needed a lot of help, and Michael just didn’t know what he was doing…He was trying to help but he didn’t have experience with it so he didn’t know any better. What makes you think you were doing a better job than him?

And today, as in, “The main things I know I gatekeep about now is rough play and watching TV shows and video games of which I don’t approve”. Again, what makes you the great overseer with all knowing power about what is right and wrong with the way the children interact with a parent other than you? Give us all, and especially your husband, a break from browbeating because you may not “approve”. You just may not be “all that” in Michael’s eyes when it comes to parenting, either!

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
7:43 am

There are things that I complain regarding my husband ( on this blog) but he always has been great with our kids. As I mentioned before, he watched our son from age 3 months until 2 while I taught a.m. Kindergarten in Texas. He had no idea about babies but he figured it out and now our son is 22!

I find the above statement to be so true:
Some women whose sense of identity is strongly tied to being a mother may fend off help in order to bolster their self-image, research shows.

While I LOVE being a mother it is NOT my only sense of identity ( I think some Mothers may need to learn this aspect as you will one day be without your children and your self esteem could plummet.)

When I travel now for business, so many folks ask me how I can leave our ( now 17 year old but it has been the past 5 years) daughter home with her Dad for a 2 or 3 day stretch. Hello, we all live together and he is just as much her parent as I am. She has become so much more independent and they find their way when I am gone. I am not the only one who can get things done around here. I do admit that things are not done the way I would do them but that is the way it has to be.
Sometimes they do run out of things and they just might appreciate the fact that Mom remembers to check if we need ______.

I am proud that our daughter and son both have a good relationship with their Dad. This is because he has been involved in their lives from day one! Happy Father’s Day to my husband…he has been a great Dad to our two wonderful ( most of the time) kids and several dogs too LOL.

JJ

June 18th, 2009
7:45 am

I would have given my right arm for my child’s father to do ANYTHING with his child. But instead, he chose the cowards way out, and ran. He couldn’t handle the responsiblity of children. Too selfish…..

Turd Ferguson

June 18th, 2009
8:00 am

JJ…perhaps you were, NO DOUBT, too much “in the way” and busy being a busy-body and telling your hubby how stupid he was etc.

Sound as if you are one selfish unforgiving beeatch. What happened, did he drop some divorce papers on ya head?

We feel your pain, JJ...

June 18th, 2009
8:02 am

…however, it could be that your X did you all a favor by leaving. You have told us many times that after he left he fathered several other children with several other women. Obviously he has some problems with commitment, and he could also have been a real problem to your daughter whom you have raised to be a successful young woman, including her recent graduation from HS with plans to attend college. If he had stayed in the picture, just to “try to be a father” he may have been a disruptive influence and things may not be as good as they are now for her. This may be one of those times whereby you may be seeing the glass as half empty, when, in reality, it is really half full!

Obviously...

June 18th, 2009
8:04 am

…Mr. Ferguson’s first name fits him perfectly.

On behalf or men everywhere (except the Turd man)..

June 18th, 2009
8:16 am

…Theresa’s complaining about her husband’s efforts to be a good father and husband are precisely why many men give up on marriage. No matter what they do, whether it be assisting with the kids, doing housework, or just trying to “do the right thing” they are met with criticism and, after a long while, it may be time to move on, for their sanity and for the sanity of the kids.

Thank goodness for moms like Ms. Janegoose, who seemingly appreciates her husbands efforts, and is not put off because they may not be what she would have done (and we all know she is not shy about telling us how we SHOULD be doing everything else – lol). As she notes, her kids have survived for 22 and 17 years despite his involvement, and she is appreciative of his involvment just the same.

Jesse's Girl

June 18th, 2009
8:17 am

Infants…pure and simple. JJ..do not respond. Per the topic….I honestly have no complaints here. When I travel, I know the kids are eating pizza or restaurant food almost every night. But it all evens out because Jesse demands more independence from them than I do. I do “little things” for them…. whereas he refuses. When our first was born…we were both in the ignorant boat together! And now we are still pretty much in the same boat. I have them looking very stylish when they leave the house…but he does better hair:)(sshhh, he can’t know i told you that) I make sure homework and the like gets done…he makes sure they can shoot a gun and scrub a potty:) I have zero complaints about my man…..he’s a keeper!

Photius

June 18th, 2009
8:26 am

Mom’s acting this way is so common… it’s the same as the man who throws everything into his job. Guess what folks? When the kids move out you wind up with two people who have nothing in common! Your #1 priority should be your spouse – not the kids or your job. Children are a by-product of marriage.

Jesse's Girl

June 18th, 2009
8:52 am

Couldn’t agree more Photius. My #1 priotity on this planet is my husband/marriage. I have even told my children that. Moms who make their children their entire life…reason for breathing…have marriages that struggle. I truly feel by putting Jesse first, I am teaching my children what a successful/fun-loving/Godly marriage looks like! And I believe whole-heartedly that our children are all the better for it! Our son will grow up knowing how to treat his wife with respect and love and our daughters will grow up knowing what a truly good man is.

Photius

June 18th, 2009
9:00 am

We’ve all seen these women who go off the deep end on Motherhood and pour everything they have into their kids and the husband becomes really nothing more than a paycheck. They love the guy, but make no doubts about it the kids are #1 in Mommy’s life, not her husband and he knows it. Dad just forks over the paycheck and let’s “Mom” sink deeper in absorption of her kids; he is left alone, his kids seem to be allright… back to the ballgame on TV.

I see too often an unhealthy balance where the marriage warps into putting the kids into the #1 spot in a marriage, mostly fueled by the mother. The kids take top priority with Mommy so the marriage takes a different turn. The kids eventually subliminally realize they are number one in the family (not mom and dad together, but them) which is unhealthy. Men are as bad if not worse when it comes to work/sports, etc – I’m just pointing out a fact of Mommy going bonkers over his children and the effect it will have on marriage and the lives of their kids.

Your marriage should always be your top priority, not your kids. Your kids will soon discover they are #1 and use it to their advantage.

I disagree...

June 18th, 2009
9:06 am

…Photius. Children AND your spouse should be the #1 focus – How do you accomplish this? By making sure, as Jesse’s Girl says, that your children grow up knowing how to treat a wife and knowing what a good man is. It is a balancing act, but it is doable, and it is not easy. Otherwise, someone gets shortchanged, and it should not be the kids, nor should it be the spouse! As I said, it ain’t easy! But, ,your spouse is grown and, hopefully, mature. The kids, not so much!

JJ

June 18th, 2009
9:12 am

Jessie’s Girl – Don’t worry, I’ve learned not to feed the trolls. School is out and there’s some bored kids at home with nothing to do. They don’t know my situation. They just try to stir stuff up, and I don’t care what they think or say on this blog, they mean NOTHING to me. I know the truth, they don’t.

Photius

June 18th, 2009
9:12 am

Psychology and all Religions agree: Marriage is #1, the children are a wonderful by-product of that love. If you’re religious, go ask your Pastor/Rabbi they will agree. This does not diminish children with regards to love or caring, however it is quite revealing when people go into therapy of counceling that their priorities were out of whack. The marriage is the center, the rock, the foundation of everything in that family – the children benefit from that stability and love and are not of equal footing.

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
9:16 am

Balance is important and sometimes not so easy to accomplish.

For the record, I have never been a Mom who waits for hubby to fork over his paycheck. I cannot imagine it. I pull my share and sometimes more. Maybe this is why I have learned to let go
( not easy when they are eating mac and cheese for dinner with no protein, fruits or veggies LOL) as I had an outside job and we need my paycheck to help pay bills.

I do know Moms who will not go out to dinner ALONE with their hubby as the children cannot be without them…this is ridiculous. We all love our children but they will survive 3-4 hours without Mom!

Original Becky

June 18th, 2009
9:17 am

JJ isn’t a whiner,she is just stating the facts..She has done a great job of raising her daughter by herself and has nothing to be a b*tch about..I have a nephew that is in a wheelchair and when he (at 19) called his father to tell him that he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, he’s darling Dad, said “I know just how you feel, I broke my leg once.” So, some men really don’t want to be Dad’s..

Back on topic, my husband is good with boys, not so much with girls..When they are eft with him, they pick their own clothes and she does her hair..As for food, they tell him where they want to eat and that’s where he takes them..

Do I worry about them when he has them? NO..He kept them a couple of weeks ago and took them to the lake with no problems..It shouldn’t be a competition..I think that (most) women are better at taking care of kids..I think it’s just ingrained in us.. This is just my opinion, so I’m not trying to piss everyone off..There are plenty of things that men are just as good at..

I think we got off track...

June 18th, 2009
9:17 am

…the question at hand is “Why does Theres’s husband not raise their kids the same way she does, or at least in the way she thinks he ought to raise them?

JJ

June 18th, 2009
9:23 am

Thank you Becky!!!

The Truth

June 18th, 2009
9:24 am

A woman who knows her role is vital to a marriage. Women need to be home and ready to cater to their man at all times. If a woman keeps a man happy then the family will stay together.

JJ

June 18th, 2009
9:33 am

That wasn’t me Becky (but you already knew that)……someone’s very bored.

Original Becky

June 18th, 2009
9:37 am

Photius, I have a sister that ruined her marriage because of kids..Once her first daughter was born, she never wanted to do anything with the husband..Next daughter came along and it was the same thing..By this time, he had a girlfriend and as they say, the rest is history..They divorced about the time that daughter #3 (her) #4 for him was born..

The youngest daughter is now 33 and my sister never dated after the divorce..Her daughters are all now to busy in their own lives to come see her unless they want something….

Becky

June 18th, 2009
9:40 am

Well it is my business, because we are a family on her and I consider JJ a sister..

Becky

June 18th, 2009
9:42 am

Sorry for the typos..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 18th, 2009
9:43 am

Wow — that did get ugly fast — JJ, I am so sorry several visitors are being rude to you! I’m glad you know to ignore them. I never know what’s going to set people off — should have gone with crushes –

JJ

June 18th, 2009
9:45 am

Theresa, no worries. I’m not at all bothered by it. Like I said above, I know my situation…….and so do the regulars…….

Jesse's Girl

June 18th, 2009
9:51 am

OOOOHHH…crushes….do tell!!! I have several…as does Jesse:)

catlady

June 18th, 2009
10:03 am

I have seen dads that had a real interest in learning with their wives about the babies and those who really were not into it at all. I think you can tell before you have kids but some of us are so blind we think that daddy will jump at the chance to learn. And then, when he doesn’t we take it on ourselves to “make up for” his lack of interest. Of course, some women come off as the expert and push their hubbies away. I think we need to be more brutally honest with ourselves before we have children (and yes, I am speaking from my experience. I won’t go into detail.)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 18th, 2009
10:03 am

crushes are tomorrow and I even have photos!

Photius

June 18th, 2009
10:14 am

Crushes – would love to read what the ladies say! And lay off JJ please.

nicole

June 18th, 2009
10:21 am

I’ve always tried to not be over my husband’s shoulder when he is stepping in with the kids..unless he asks..he’s a guy both of our children are girls, and as well all know..when they go number two..I just always had to make sure, once he left the room, that he cleaned all areas? lol. but he did pretty well. But dressing them..omg! I even had they’re clothes set up as outfits..shirts and pants on hangers together, so that it would be easier..and yet he would still pull pants off one hanger and a shirt off another..the shirts for 8 times out of 10 backwards, and onesies were never ever snapped, lol. I never said anything, I just let him figure it out. but there is one thing that drives me absolutely nuts that happens over and over again….our 8 year old! she goes everywhere with him, and he’ll get her home 5 minutes before I have to have her to one of her activities..and not only that,..but unfed! so then I have to hurry, give her dinner and show up to whereever she is suppose to be that night late..and then we are doing homework before bed, instead of before dinner. And these are times when he’s only suppose to be gone for like 15-30 minutes, but they end up getting side tracked and it turns into 2 hours. Or worse…he’ll take her with him, they both come home for dinner, and she walks in eating a ice cream cone! like literally..dinner is being put on the table..and he knows it..and he gets her an ice cream cone…errr! I love that they spend time together, I really do, but his sense of timing is just not there.

Becky

June 18th, 2009
10:35 am

Nicole, that was the only “wrong” my husband did when the kids were babies..I would lay out clothes and come home only to find that they were never wearing them..I can’t tell you how many times he would put the little girls onesies onn backward..I always thought it was cute..A man that can handle twins under a year old and this is the worst thing that he did, is great in my book…

nicole

June 18th, 2009
10:35 am

however…I never ever worry about the kids being with him..he takes them to six flags, white water..he takes our oldest (8 year old) to basketball games and football games and hockey…shows..etc..and I never worry about her being with him, and she always comes back with the biggest smile. If I ever did have to go somewhere, and leave the kids with him..I wouldn’t worry..he would…he ends up feeling at a total loss with the younger ones. Its like he said..our 8 year old can speak up, our babies can’t..so he feels totally clueless..and he is..but he is also capable of figuring it out. I think whats important is when you marry someone is to insure you have the same goals, same morals, and then those things like tv, rough play, food..never become and issue. We both want our kids to be healty, so we both make sure to fix healthy meals, we both want our kids to be mentally stable, and respectful, and have a good sense of the world, while still remaining children for as long as possible, so we both have the same rules we adhere to when it comes to language and play and tv time. we’re married, we’re a team, we’re a family..if its not good for our kids to do it, then its not good for us to do it, and therefore…we don’t, so then its not even an issue. These are things that have to be figured out way before you have the kids though, way before you walk down that aisle really. See when we got together and marriage started to be a topic..we were young, very young..I was 17, he was 21. We married when I was 19, I had our first child two years later. We had the same jobs we have now, good ones, and a house, the dream. But, before we even considered all of that we sat down, and said okay..if we are going to do this..then lets do it right. Heres what we want for our marriage, here what we want for our future kids. Now how do we get there and keep it there? falling in love is easy, staying in love takes a plan. does it mean there are not problems? of course not..it just mean we have a plan already in place to navigate through those problems. But I can honestly say..that in 8 years…none of our arguments have ever been about the children.

Andrea

June 18th, 2009
10:37 am

I agree with the article. Too often, the guys are left out, especially when the mom begins her voyage into Superwomanhood. I think for some women, they have to prove they can be a great mom, a great housekeeper, work outside the home, volunteer for worthwhile causes, have the most amazing sex on the planet, and do all of this in stilettos! If she lets one tiny baby derail her, she loses her membership in the Superwomanhood club.

Having a newborn is rough for new parents – BOTH of them. I thought I would lose my mind when my son was born. He was our first child, and he was very preemie (born at 24 weeks). I knew nothing about babies and knew even less about sick babies. Thinking back on it now, we were both totally lost!

The hardest part for me was telling the Mother Brigade (my mom and my sisters) to back off. I am sure they meant well, but it gets very frustrating to have someone criticize everything you do (with your own kid mind you!). My ex and I did our best learning along the way. Sure there were some things we could have done better. Sure we both did things the other didn’t like – I will never forget the day he told me to please not put our son in one more sailor type outfit and not to buy any more outfits that came with matching hats. But at the end of the day, we were both involved and that only helped my son.

nicole

June 18th, 2009
10:39 am

I totally agree Becky! diapers crooked, shirts on wrong..small potatoes in my book….not life threatening, the ice cream cone really isn’t even all that bad..just irritating, lol. Its like..what are you doing? what were you thinking? lol. I think his thought process is…if we couldn’t do it when we were kids, then I want my kids to do it. I’m the same. My mother never let us take the cushions off the couch to make forts..so now I do it with my kids..and my mom walks in and is like..why are you letting them do that? you were never allowed to do that..and I’m like..”exactly” lol. He turned to me and asked…haven’t you always wanted to be able to have ice cream for dinner? lol. He’s nuts. we have a good time, and our girls love they’re daddy. So I’m happy. I don’t complain..even when we are late..because in the big scheme of things..when she is not a professional ballerina in her future adult life..her being late to ballet class will be totally insignificant to the time she spent with daddy and an Ice cream cone.

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
10:39 am

JJ…I am sorry that some folks are being so mean to you today. Each of has their own story and there is no way others can know the full spectrum of our lives just by simply reading our posts.

There are personal things I do not share on this blog that might shed some light into my strong opinions.

The fact that some folks only chime in to rag on others shows that they really have nothing else to contribute to the topic at hand.

Theresa…how come you don’t apologize to me when posters are rude LOL….

Photius

June 18th, 2009
10:41 am

And to pick on Dads for their responsibility or lack of: Men have a strong tendency to place work above everything else under the illusion that by earning a good income translates into love/care for their families by providing what they need. Quite frankly there are a lot of men who do pass the buck to wife-e-poo or they think being a Dad means screwing around with kids playing. I’ve witnessed to many Dads who have a friend as their child. This is prevelant across all economic spectrums. I do not mean to pick on women but rather the subject matter of the day for I do believe men and women are equally screwed up when it comes to parenting and I also believe 50% of all parents should have never had children.

nicole

June 18th, 2009
10:49 am

Totally agree Photius. I can remember my mother working and my father complaining on the days she went in early and he had to fix us breakfast. He didn’t work he was disabled due to his back being broken years before. So, he stayed home and we went to school, But my mom worked, and literally all he had to do was make us breakfast, and then have the house to himself all day..we even walked to the bus stop (which was acutally a mile away) and he would go back to bed. And he would complain every time he had to make us breakfast. I was 8…and finally one morning I got up, got my brother up, helped him to get dressed, like I did every morning, (my mom would make our lunches the night before for us, and insure all we needed was in our backpacks before she went to work) but this time..I didn’t wake my father up, I made breakfast, and then we left for school. And it remained that way, from that point on. Then he began complaining about the nights she worked..he would always only either make hot dogs or pasta, that was it, and when I turned 12, dinner making when mom worked fell to me. He was not a parent, and he did not want to be one. I left home at 17. And my mother left him 6 months after that. I fully believe if I stayed, she would have continued being married to him. I am fortunate to say that my life only got better after I left. And I have one of the best husbands. my mother is still a little cooky…but she lives an hour and a half away and has to call before she visits..so we’re good. lol

Give it a rest, Photius...

June 18th, 2009
10:56 am

…you are beginning to sound like mothergoose on everything.

But, you are correct that men and women are equally screwed up when it comes to parenting. And there are probably an equal amount of women who place work above everything else WITHOUT the illusion that earning a good income translates into love/care for their families by providing what they need, they just want to PROVE to the world they are valuable – and there are a lot women who do pass the buck to the man-e-poo while believing that being a mom means screwing around with the kids by teaching them to cook or clean or checking their homework, but never taking the time to be their friend or to play with them!

jack5656

June 18th, 2009
10:59 am

What is up with that last question…”how much should dad’s be helping?” I really don’t know what the tone of it was….could be a “how much should a mom ALLOW a dad to help”, or “how much are Dad’s falling down on the job by not helping”. In any event..sounds like the premise indicates a score keeping mentality. What kind of relationship is that? “Do you LET him do (fill in the blank)”…..can only be followed up with when you do ALLOW him to do something, how upset should you be when he doesn’t meet your standards? I bet if Michael criticized Theresa for how she mowed the lawn when she was trying to help out, there would be some fallout there.

Here’s a really novel concept. Don’t keep score in a relationship when it comes to helping at anything. Each parent and spouse help when they see the need for help and support and appreciate each other for the effort.

Wow, jack5656...

June 18th, 2009
11:01 am

…a voice of reason!

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
11:31 am

jack5656…the problem with each spouse helping ” when they see the need…” is that some spouses never seem to see this. I think that most of the regular posters could provide plenty of tales about this. Anyone want to share?

In a perfect world, Dads would realize ( as he watches TV or is on the computer) that if the sink is full of dishes and the kids are running around at 9:00 p.m. without a bath, on a school night…then Mom may come home from her ( perhaps) late day at work or taking a client out for dinner and she will be fuming and say “why can’t you figure this out while I am gone?”

On the flip side….the husband comes home from work to find that the wife has spent the entire day at the pool with the kids and it is now 7:00 p.m. with no verifiable plans for dinner…she is asking him if he could go back out and pick something up. I have heard this happen at our pool….Moms saying they are too tired to cook dinner as they have been at the pool all day…WHAT?
Put something in the crockpot before you leave the house. I am not saying that the wife has to be the cook but when there is a need ( as jack5656 has said) she could step up.

Sometimes there is not a lot of support and appreciation in the house…..this is where the problem lies.

Photius…you are now in dangerous waters….if you are being dumped into my camp….hahaha!

sd

June 18th, 2009
11:34 am

In my opinion, the legal system has done its fair share of damage to fatherhood.

The court system has a major prejudice towards women somehow being the default better parent.

Basically, if two people get divorced, unless there is a major problem with the woman, she is getting the kids.

The judicial system should not prefer one gender over the other. Fathers can be, and often are, the better parent.

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
11:34 am

JJ imposter @ 11:21…the real JJ knows my blog name is motherjanegoose…you just gave yourself up…..LOL

Denise

June 18th, 2009
11:34 am

My sister-in-law is the slacker in the family and this topic can be switched around for her. She’s irresponsible, sends 10 diapers, 0 wipes, and 4 outfits with the baby for a week-long visit. She “lets” the oldest child pack his and his brother’s suitcases for a trip. That usually means there are no socks, 2 pair of underwear, 4 shirts, and 1 pair of pants. LOL! In other words, she doesn’t show enough care for the kids. My brother has is own issues – nowhere near perfect – but he does his best to take care of the kids even if he doesn’t do much else. It frustrates ME because when I get them they don’t have enough clean (not dingy) clothes and shoes so I buy them stuff. They can’t suffer because their parents are not 100% in the game. I wonder if she sends them with not enough stuff because she knows we’ll buy the stuff they need.

And, no, I am not just looking at material things. If I didn’t have the money I wouldn’t spend it. If I didn’t want to do for my babies, I wouldn’t. I just think saying “I love my kids” is the same as taking care of them. They need more than words. They need to be able to play and learn some things the hard way (yes, you can break your arm if you jump out of a tree) but with guidance, care, and discipline. All three are lacking in my SIL.

jack5656

June 18th, 2009
11:48 am

motherjanegoose…I agree with everything you have to say except with one teensy little caveat. In the situation you described…the problem is NOT that one person is helping out or not helping out. It is a symptom of a much larger problem in the relationship.

HB

June 18th, 2009
12:13 pm

I actually get frustrated with my own mom as she often points out young dads she knows, talking admiringly about what a good job they do with their kids — playing with them, taking them to lunch and doing a job feeding them and cleaning them up after, etc. My response is: What’s the big deal? Why wouldn’t a guy be able to take care of his kids? Why are these little everyday things seen as “special” if a man does them? Low expectations of fathers aren’t fair to men or women.

I saw an interview of Gloria Steinem back around 1999-2000 (part of some century series). The subject of women feeling pressure to do everything after the women’s lib movement came up and how many went to work full-time but still were held responsible for the major part of child-rearing, housework, etc. She said she believed the idea that women can do anything men can had permeated society fairly well, but that true equality for both men and women would only come when we recognize that men can do anything women can do too. They can be good homemakers and even stay-at-home dads, and if both parents work, they certainly can contribute as much at home as their wives can. That does require, though, women backing off and “allowing” dads to have an equal parenting role as this article says.

FCM

June 18th, 2009
12:33 pm

OK pretty much we know that my (ex) husband is well…an ‘ex’. So take this for what it is worth.

I have found that generally speaking Men can indeed do things. They just do them differently than women do.

Examples:

DISHES — I rinse plates stack them in the dishwasher and run when full. Male friend feels dishwasher is a waste. He will clean the dishes by hand or you eat off paper.

BATHROOMS–Female friend cleaned the ‘her’ bathroom and the half bath as part of the weekly cleaning on Sunday. She asked her fiance to do ‘his’ bathroom. He commented that since the parents were coming this weekend there was no point to clean the bathroom before today.

HOMEWORK HELP–I tend to sit next to my kids or have them at the breakfast bar while I cook. Most Dads I know come in answer the specific question and leave the room.

KID BATH–I (used to) sit an scrub them and do their hair etc. Dad (at the time) would fill the tub full of suds, watch them play, and eventually pull them out and dry them off—leaving a watery mess. (These days I point in the direction of the bathroom and tell them to get moving, then monitor the bather by standing in the door letting them know they have ‘x’ minutes before I drain the tub/shut off the shower—they are 7 & 9).

VAC THE CARPET–I still do baseboards and move furniture. Most men I know just vac what you see. Same for dusting.

On behalf or men everywhere (except the Turd man)..

June 18th, 2009
12:43 pm

Well since you liberated women are so much better at cleaning, cooking, vacuuming, dusting etc., then let me get back to watching ESPN while you do YOUR CHORES!!

“A maid…..A man needs a maid
I was thinking that
maybe I’d get a maid
Find a place nearby
for her to stay.
Just someone
to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.

A maid. A man needs a maid.”

On behalf or men everywhere (except the Turd man)..

June 18th, 2009
12:45 pm

Go ahead you liberated horses rear-end…see how long you last without me.

JJ

June 18th, 2009
12:51 pm

Denise, sometimes people don’t pack for their kids, so the other will purchase items.

My ex husband’s first wife was like that. When his daughter would come stay with us, she would pack shorts in winter. It forced us to go buy the child proper clothes.

Once we caught on to what she was doing, we insisted all clothing (and other items) we purchased would remain at our home. It got to the point where the child never had to bring anything, as she has her own stuff at our house, toys included.

Denise

June 18th, 2009
1:44 pm

JJ, my father has a drawer for each of the kids. What he buys stays at his house. It’s sad but it’s the truth. He will buy stuff like socks, undershirts, and underwear to make sure that if they didn’t bring any they aren’t running around commando. The baby is a girl in diapers so she’s covered. :-)

Becky

June 18th, 2009
1:46 pm

JJ, my husbands ex would do the same thing to us..Anytime we ever needed to go somewhere, he never had the right clothes..Of course he always had a $100 (or more) pair of sneakers..

Jen

June 18th, 2009
1:59 pm

I am in total agreement with “Sorry Theresa”. Those were the things I immediately honed in on.

I mean, when we had our son neither of us had been parents before. We were both 26 years old. Both in graduate school. So, we just both figured out how to do things so we didn’t accidentally kill the baby.

Seriously.

As for “rough play and watching TV shows and video games of which I don’t approve.”

Should that be something the two of you agree on upfront? I mean, neither one of you is The Boss, right?

Maybe it’s because my husband and I started having kids young…about 6 years before we planned. And maybe it’s because we were both in school and needed to run interference for each other so we could both graduate. But, we really leaned on each other to hold up the parental obligations. As a result, we really have developed a true co-parenting relationship.

It really manifested when I went to Africa for two weeks for work. My son did NOT miss me AT ALL. Now, that really wrankled me at first. But my own mother brought up the point that he didn’t miss me because he felt perfectly safe and secure at home with Dad and because he knew I was coming back. In that perspective, I felt good about it. And I was validated to some extent after getting home and he acted all clingy for a couple of days, proving to me that he did miss me a little, just not in a disruptive way. Actually, that was true about both him and Dad.

I do recognize that my husband and I evolved into equal opportunity parents due to our own circumstances. Otherwise, we might have evolved into the same type of parents as mine (breadwinner dad and primary parent mom), despite the fact my husband I have equal incomes. All 4 of my siblings have fallen in those roles…

catlady

June 18th, 2009
2:01 pm

JJ at 12:51: I have done something similar because of that, and I recommend it because it cuts down on the anger/resentment issues.

One premise I am having trouble with: Other than nursing, why is what the husband does “helping with?” Saying that makes it clear that you are the one responsible and he is the assistant. I don’t buy that. It’s like when I mow the lawn. That is what I am doing. It is not “helping with” anything. Much more so raising a child than mowing the lawn! It’s like the whole “helping me with the house” thing. If both of us work outside the home, how is the home MINE to do and his to occasionally “help” with? It really does not take any special expertise to vaccum the floor or change the baby.

I remember having to “alert” my husband if I was going out of the room so he would be aware of what the child was doing. Otherwise, he (the dad) might wander off, leaving the baby unsupervised. I look back on that and think “WTH?”

Now, when my husband changed the brakes on the car, I was the assistant for sure. It was a technical job, and needed someone with specific skills. (My job was to hold down the pedal to bleed the brakes.) If it was something I was a specialist in, of course he would be “helping” me.

I think by our words we betray our real thinking about this. And I don’t think one person should be the specialist and one the helper on raising kids.

jack5656

June 18th, 2009
2:16 pm

Bravo Jen…the mutual respect and shared experiences is the heart of this matter…NOT who does what and when. You summed up so eloquently what I was trying to say. This is not a slam on you Theresa, but I’m betting that when Michael tried those things you said he had no idea how to do you just stepped in and told him that you would do it (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was with a “get out of the way you don’t know what you’re doing” look.) On the flip side, I bet when Jen and/or her husband tried something they didn’t know how to do, the other stepped in and said “let me show you how to do it” or “I don’t know either, but let’s try this.” And therein lies the heart of the issue…are you in a relationship that is inclusive or divisive? All the resentment and anger and griping, or lack thereof, can be traced back to the answer to that question.

lakerat

June 18th, 2009
2:26 pm

Having read this blog for many months now I continue to be amazed at how many Alpha moms there are who regularly read and converse here. And, Theresa really seems to add to the personna by creating topics for discussion that lend to the ongoing validation of the readers who relate their stories of superiority (me being one), when in actuality we are all legends in our own minds when it comes to who is right or better, me or my spouse.

I really concur with what catlady just said, that being that she did not think that “one person should be the specialist and one the helper on raising kids”. It IS a team sport, so to speak, so quit trying to make out like the dads are completely helpless until they “learn” on the job. Just like doctors, who “practice” all their careers, parents are continually learning, too.

I know society has generally created the notion that the mother is the main caregiver, and that dads get involved either by default or because mom needs help “right now”. Theresa even added to this by posting about her husband’s shortcomings as a new parent, though it is probably true that she had many shortcomings at that time, too, as others have commented.

It is what it is – and the perpetuation of the myth that fathers are inferior caregivers to children is part of a self-fulfilling prophesy, though I am sure we can find numerous instances where the moms left the kids and the dad alone (permanently), just as some on this site have been left, too. But that is a blog for another forum not entitled “Momania”.

JJ

June 18th, 2009
2:34 pm

Lakerat – nice post…….every so often, you amaze us….

Maybe we should change the name of this blog to ParentMania…….???? Theresa?????

April

June 18th, 2009
2:45 pm

I agree with HB and Catlady why is the husband “helping”? I also hate it when I go somewhere without my kids, and someone says, “Oh, is the dad babysitting today?” No, he is being their parent and doing all the things a parent does. Because of our professions, I am the one who typically has the most alone time with them, but no one ever asks me if I am babysitting.

Jen

June 18th, 2009
3:07 pm

Ooooo…I hate that when anyone says, “I am babysitting” in regards to their own children. I’ve heard that from both sides…moms and dads. I heard it not long ago, a guy I worked with who is a cyclist was talking about a weekly ride but how he couldn’t go on this week’s ride because he had to “babysit the kids” while his wife had some unusal thing on her schedule.

I must have made a face because he immediately corrected himself.

You cannot, by definition, babysit your own children!

Denise

June 18th, 2009
3:14 pm

I hate the whole “daddy is babysitting”. You don’t babysit your own kids! I had a girlfriend who had to ask her husband if he “minded” keeping the kid. Are you serious? He didn’t “mind” making that baby so he shouldn’t “mind” raising her.

The Truth

June 18th, 2009
3:22 pm

Jen – If a man watches the kids he is babysitting because it is the permament job of the mother to care for the kids.

Jen

June 18th, 2009
3:24 pm

Now this is different than asking your spouse if it’s okay for you to bail on the family for a few hours because you want to go for that bike ride, or happy hour, or whatever. Asking your spouse if it’s okay to bail is just showing respect for their schedule. For instance, we’re in the middle of trying to rent out out this rental house we have. So, we’ve got to go meet potential tenants to show them the house, etc, get contractors in to get estimates for some work we need to get done on it, etc. So, while one of us is doing that the other obviously can’t bail on the family and go play.

Like I am bailing on Saturday to go with a friend to a writing workshop. I checked with my husband to make sure I didn’t need to be home parenting because he had a more obligatory commitment. He actually did have a commitment, but it wasn’t something where he couldn’t do it AND play single dad for a few hours.

This isn’t about “minding”, to borrow a term from Denise, but it’s about us, as married people, comparing our schedules and prioritizing and dividing labor. No biggie.

sd

June 18th, 2009
3:25 pm

Well, to those of you who agree that Dads aren’t unequal partners, what do you think of the court system?

In divorce, should a mother be given preferential treatment over a dad?

My personal opinion is that Dads should be given preferential treatment in regards to custody of boys and vice versa for girls.

As it is now, unless the mother is on drugs or has some other issue, she is getting the kids.

Becky

June 18th, 2009
3:37 pm

Enter your comments here

Becky

June 18th, 2009
3:38 pm

Sorry about that…

JJ

June 18th, 2009
3:44 pm

So what do you do when you take your kids to your Mother’s house, and she gets drunk? And it’s only 3:30 in the afternoon?

A friend of mine just called and asked if I could go get her daughter from her mother’s house, as her monther is completely smashed, and it’s 3:30? The kid is 8 and gramma is trashed.

I work close to “gramma’s” house and my friend works from home and doesn’t get off until 6:00…….that’s why I was called.

Jen

June 18th, 2009
3:49 pm

Wow, JJ, that crazy. Did she call you to go get the kid and bring her home? OR keep her? If I was faced with that I would have to just leave work on a “family emergency” and go get my kid. But if you’re a close enough friend then I might ask if you could go get her and bring her home. But I’d never ask you to keep her from 3:30 to 6, especially since you might have your own job or whatever…

Best of luck.

Jen

June 18th, 2009
4:04 pm

“The Truth
June 18th, 2009
3:22 pm

Jen – If a man watches the kids he is babysitting because it is the permament job of the mother to care for the kids.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, like you actually believe that. Like it’s not totally true you’re just fishing here. Like it’s not obvious to everyone on the planet with a minimum of ZERO brain cells.

XD

sd

June 18th, 2009
4:25 pm

JJ, I’d go get the kid right away.

motherjanegoose

June 18th, 2009
4:55 pm

Not sure if I have ever shared this story…

When our son was a baby, he was having a truly fussy afternoon. Neither my husband nor myself knew what to do with him. We had both tried everything and nothing was working. I am certain our frustration could be heard well out into our yard as the windows were open and we were venting on each other as to what should or could be done.

The doorbell rings….we look at each other and wonder who it is…our dear neighbor Nelda ( then about 45 ish) who announces…

” you two need to calm down or the baby will never stop crying….give him to me and catch your breath…”

We were amazed, she brought him back in 30 minutes and he was FINE. Proof that sometimes NEITHER parent knows what to do AND some neighbors are really angels….LOL. A fond memory of a terrific neighbor!

catlady

June 18th, 2009
6:12 pm

I would go to get the girl, with the understanding that Mama needs to be on her way to meet me at my workplace. And Mama should tell me what her plans are from now on re her child, since Grandma is out of consideration now. I would certainly press her for what her thinking is about her childcare. Obviously the current situation is a no-go. She doesn’t have to tell me, but I should give her every chance to brainstorm her options.

My ex-husband’s wife has me as one of the people who can pick up their son in case of emergency. Of course, I work 30 minutes from his school and she stays home and sleeps and drinks. But if I was called, I would go and ask questions or raise h afterward.

How did Mama find out Grandma was drunk? Did the girl call her?

annoyed

June 18th, 2009
9:51 pm

wake up, google, cut paste, submit (maybe I should have spell checked that)

wake up, google, cut paste, submit (maybe I should have spell checked that)

Hey guys, I’m totally gonna copy a story tomorrow about shawn cassidy, I totally like promise.

And they cut Jim Wooten back?

JJ

June 19th, 2009
8:07 am

I did go get the kid. Gramma was “BAKED” when I got there, at 4:15. She couldn’t get an entire sentence out of her mouth, and she was stumbling all over the place….

I met up with my friend and dropped her kid off. So sad..

I would do it again in a heartbeat. That’s what friends are for.

Stookie

June 19th, 2009
10:33 am

SD, i am feeling you. It is so biased towards the mother, that if you have an angry ex, she can basically keep the kids from you as long as she is following the parenting plan. I get my kids only twice a week (more then standard b/c I fought her on it). How can i be a father to my 2 boys on 28 hours a week? I constantly ask for more time (sleepovers during the week no that they are out of school, dinners for a couple hours, picking them up for school a couple times a week) but she denies me because she knows that is the only way she can hurt me. I gave up everything to not be with her and only fought her for more time with the kids, but still she says i am selfish. Can i go back to the courts? I don’t have the money to and even if i did, they wouldn’t change anything. Fathers are parents too but the courts don’t feel that way.

Jeff

June 19th, 2009
10:40 am

Yeah, T and I are going to have an interesting time with this. While we’re both pretty well on the same page in the big picture, our strategies are different. She’s all into being **EXTREMELY** polite and things have to APPEAR to be ‘just so’. I’m much more into reality and if something isn’t ‘just so’ I have no problems with people knowing that. Am I going to broadcast it? No. But if it comes up or if they come to the house and see something, I’m not going to act like it isn’t there.

She wants the kids to be nice and never think about ‘bad’ things. I’d rather the kids be able to handle the ‘bad’ things as much as their development will allow. (For example, I don’t expect a 6yo to be able to escape/defeat a 250lb adult male. But I DO expect said 6yo to use those lungs/vocal cords to yell as long and loud as they possibly can if said 250lb adult male tries to do something to them.)

JJ

June 19th, 2009
12:47 pm

Stookie, my brother gets his kids EVERY OTHER WEEK, one week on, one week off. When they are with his ex, he gets them for dinner one night a week. If he has the kids that week, she gets a dinner night with the kids. If your kids are older than 13, they can decide what they want. But, unfortunately, you do have to go to court.

Yes it costs money to go to court, but if you REALLY want more time, then find a good lawyer who will listen to you. You can fight for more time.

Also, you can revise your child support/custody arrangements every two years.

catlady

June 19th, 2009
1:57 pm

I agree that the presumption that the dad is not the best person to be the custodial parent is outdated and morally (and should be legally) wrong. Sometimes it is a dead heat to see who can be the worst for the child–mom or dad! As a teacher, I have seen a lot of really, really bad custodial moms.